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Do leg machines (nautilus) make your legs/thighs/butt bigger?

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Old 10-14-2011, 04:56 PM   #1
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Default Do leg machines (nautilus) make your legs/thighs/butt bigger?

Warning this is going to be kind of long lol!

I know that it is important to build muscle but i want to get SMALLER, not bigger especially my lower body.

For arms i do free weights but for legs the machines i typically do on the nautilus circuit are the hip flexion, leg extension, prone leg curl, leg press, and hip abduction for inner and outer thighs. Now a few years ago i had a trainer who had us do 10 reps of each machine with cardio in between and i lost a ton of weight and inches.

What i do now is cardio, then i do nautilus legs straight through. I increased my weight on each machine after a few weeks by 5 lbs and i upped my reps to 20 on each machine so for ex i was doing this:

hip flexion: 150 lbs x 20

leg extension: 95 lbs x 20

prone leg curl: 90 lbs x 20

leg press: 165 lbs x 20

hip abduction: inner 100 lbs x 20, outer 135 x 20

I feel like when i was doing this i was getting bigger in my hips, thighs, butt, etc. i had these jeans that i tried on every couple of weeks and they were not getting any looser at all but my trainer had always said to up the weights and reps to get results so i kept at it. After about a month of doing everything "right" in terms of diet and exercise and still i wasn't losing inches and getting smaller i pretty much stopped doing nautilus legs and started running and i now feel like i am getting smaller especially my lower body. I've taken measurements and i am losing inches and the jeans are getting looser. But i've been feeling guilty about not doing weights so I started nautilus again last week and decreased my weights and reps to this:

hip flexion: 135 lbs x 12

leg extension: 80 lbs x 12

prone leg curl: 75 lbs x 12

leg press: 140 lbs x 12

hip abduction: inner 95 lbs x 12, outer 125 x 12

However i am terrified that this will either 1. make me gain inches if i build muscle on top of fat or 2. do nothing at all because the weight and reps are too low and i wonder if it's just a waste of my time.

So is there anyone that can advise me on what to do for legs in terms of strength training? Should i not do any? Should i only strength train arms?

I also do a ton of squats and lunges in the cardio classes i take and i also was wondering do those make you smaller????

Thanks for anyone who replies!!!
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Old 10-14-2011, 05:00 PM   #2
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Honestly, I'd avoid machines. Will your legs get bigger? Not if you are in a calorie deficit.

I'd recommend squats, lunges and deadlifts over any machine though.
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Old 10-14-2011, 05:35 PM   #3
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IF you were to gain muscle while NOT losing fat, then yes. But if you gain muscle while losing fat, you will appear smaller, not bigger because a pound of muscle is far more dense than a pound of fat. A pound of muscle is about the size of a man's fist. A pound of fat is about the size of a half gallon container. So, basically 1 lb of muscle is about half the size of 1 lb of fat. That said, women have difficulty putting on muscle and even training hard you are unlikely to put on more than 1 lb of muscle a month. You WANT muscle because it will increase your metabolism, it will give you a better shape, it will help to strengthen your bones, and resistance training has an after burn on calories that can last as long as 3 days and is very effective at burning fat. I agree with Nelie that compound exercises with free weights is more effective, but do what you're comfortable doing.
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Old 10-15-2011, 12:34 AM   #4
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It's really hard for women to build muscle. So likely, no.

I would also, like nelie and EagleRiver have said, avoid machines. Completely. They are not ergonomic and do not require functional movement of the body. Take the hip abductor/adductor- when do you ever do that motion in real life?

Second, certain ones, like the leg extension, can make you more prone to injury.

There are sticky threads on this forum about this subject:
Machines vs. Free weights
10 Most Ineffective Exercises (check out the first two)

So, I'd opt for squats, lunges, and deadlifts. There are lots of 3FCers who lift HEAVY and who are quite small. The weights at which most of us lift are not going to be heavy enough to make ourselves bulky.

hope that helps good luck
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:18 PM   #5
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bella, your legs are incredibly strong! I would guess that genetically, your legs are muscular AND you carry your extra fat below the belt.

So first of all, embrace your genetics, don't waste your time changing the impossible. YOU ARE INCREDIBLY STRONG!

Secondly, more specific to your question, in order to maintain your asset of strength, all you have to do is maintain. So keeping the weight low and doing more reps isn't going to hurt, isn't a waste of time, you're just there to maintain. You are still burning caloried when you lift.

The body adapts to regular exercise. That's why it's such a lucrative business, the fitness industry. The population is constantly needing to change things up. That's all you need to do.

Take a different fitness class. DON'T do your regular exercises, but find a way to work the same muscle groups in a different way. This challenges the body to adapt another way. You may see a change, you may not (genetics) but either way, it'll keep the mind interested and the body challenged.

That all said, I have a problem myself. I have skinny friggin ankles. Like sickly skinny. Embarrassing. I have been working on my lower calves for 5 years - like specifically doing exercises to build the muscle there - and guess what? I can still touch my middle finger to my thumb around my ankle. Absolutely NOT A SINGLE MILLIMETER greater. However, I have some awesome upper calves and I'm faster and stronger and have more endurance than I did 5 years ago. So I take the good with the bad. I look at what I can DO better, not what I see in the mirror, and I'm happy.

I hope you are proud of your strength. Don't worry about size.
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