Q: I've just been so confused. I have been shrinking and really don't want to get any smaller but my lower half of my body is still very squishy and not toned. Would that mean I need to do cardio or just lift more on my legs? I have those dreaded saddle bags that stay on me till I weigh as much as a toothpick. I weigh 110 right now with around 20% body fat. I don't know if I could handle a month cut? Sorry for all the questions. I am just tired of not seeing any results.
A: Wow, you are so small already, cutting doesn't sound like it will help with the look you're trying to achieve. I'd say it's time to up the weights in the leg work. Doing more cardio at this point will just create the “skinny fat” look, which is what you're trying to avoid/overcome. Building muscle will firm the legs up quite nicely. So you could go straight into a bulk, and develop some lean muscle under the layer of fat that may be there now. Because of this your legs may feel like they're getting bigger at first (because muscle is developing under fat), but pay close attention to the firmness. When they seem firm enough (or if your pants get too tight) cut for 3-4 weeks (or until pants fit again, lol) and then go back to bulking. This will slowly get rid of the “skinny fat” and give you firm, shapely legs and glutes.
A few must-haves in your leg routine would be heavy squats, lunges and deadlifts. Stick to free weights/compound movements, don't even bother with the weight machines, if you can help it (unless you're very new to weights and still learning proper form. But eventually wean yourself, or sprinkle into your free weight routine).
Also see if you can incorporate 2 leg days into your routine, 1 heavy and one light (the lighter weight/high rep day can replace a cardio day — or, alternatively, use a cardio machine like the stair mill on cardio day).
Even if you choose not to bulk now – opt to eat over maintenance (~ 200-300 cals) on leg day.
Q: Yes! It's that awful skinny fat on my legs! Everyone says cardio, cardio to get rid of it. My thighs are 19 1/2 inches and still fat. One of my friends refuses to lift weights and tries to get me to run with her a few days a week. I hate it! She wants me to run a 5k with her but all I can ever think about is how it's cutting out my time at the gym.
A: Nooooo! Now is NOT the time for a 5k, ROFL. Excess cardio is what creates the skinny fat, not what heals it. Not to mention the fact that you say you “hate it,” why torture yourself unnecessarily? As you develop the muscle you desire in your legs, you can carefully use your runs (or preferred cardio) to help with extra fat. But too much will tear down the muscle that you're trying to build and become counterproductive. If you force your body to choose between building muscle and endurance, endurance will typically win. This is especially important — unless you are training for a marathon/triathalon/etc. (in which case you would want some muscle atrophy in order to run faster- too much muscle makes you slower) — since you actually want muscle in your legs. If you wanted to incorporate cardio that will help you reach your goal, shoot for things like the stairmill, bleacher runs, sprints, etc., NOT long distance running (at least not right now).
Girl, adding squats, deadlifts, etc. was the best thing that ever happened to my cellulite, lol. Weighted leg work is the real deal when it comes to shaping the legs.