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Old 11-16-2007, 11:47 AM
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Help with exercise & gaining leg muscle

I've been going to spinning class about 3-5 times per week for the past month or two. During that time I've seen my thighs get bigger, even while watching my diet very closely. (I'm a lifelong vegetarian and pretty darn healthy eater). I've always been active, but nothing quite this vigorous....at least long-term like this.

It seems to be all muscle, although I do have a bit of fat that I'm trying to lose. Even with a diet, and all of this working out, the fat is staying put, and my thigh muscles are getting HUGE. Its getting to the point where I can't fit into my jeans. The waist still fits fine, but the thighs are getting uncomfortably snug.

It was my understanding that a woman's legs can't really "bulk up" unless you are doing VERY heavy weight lifting. I am wondering if I should switch to some other form of cardio, and cut out the spinning for a bit? Seriously, I'm going to be out of jeans to wear if my thighs get even the tiniest bit bigger.

I feel great from all of the exercise....I sleep better and have tons of energy. But I honestly expected to lose a bit of weight, not gain more. Its stressing me out, and I don't know what to do. Any suggestions?
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Old 11-16-2007, 12:05 PM
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the weight gain should be a non-issue if you are gaining muscle because you'll weigh more with the addition of lean muscle, even if you are losing fat.

i, too, have always understood (even from my trainer) that it is really hard to "bulk" up without a weight lifting program.

are you spinning with really high resistance? because i would think that would bulk up your muscles, rather than just a cardio workout.

i would definately suggest supplementing your workout with other forms of cardio, like walking or running or the stair climber.

i have also found that when i am feeling "bulky", adding in yoga or pilates once or twice a week really helps me out. i feel like the muscles get all long and stretched out again and definately helps when i feel like i am "retaining".
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Old 11-16-2007, 12:27 PM
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Sometimes when you start an exercise program, your muscles retain water for a bit, and it makes them seem bigger for a bit. It usually goes away though.

If you are maintaining your weight with all of the exercise and you are trying to lose some fat, you can either add some more exercise (something different for variety) or cut your calories a bit. Do you drink juice or soda? Eat pasta or white rice? Cutting out liquid calories and cutting your serving of grains in half, and replacing the amount you cut out with veggies are easy ways to cut calories.
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Old 11-16-2007, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zoki View Post

are you spinning with really high resistance? because i would think that would bulk up your muscles, rather than just a cardio workout.
Yes, now that I think about it. The trainer is a big, burly, muscular guy. We don't do enough light resistance/high speed spinning IMO, so maybe that is something I need to look into. Also, I think I will try a bit of yoga or pilates for a few weeks and see if that helps
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If you are maintaining your weight with all of the exercise and you are trying to lose some fat, you can either add some more exercise (something different for variety) or cut your calories a bit. Do you drink juice or soda? Eat pasta or white rice? Cutting out liquid calories and cutting your serving of grains in half, and replacing the amount you cut out with veggies are easy ways to cut calories.
I consider myself pretty good with my diet. I was raised to eat healthy, so I don't drink soda, very little juice, and mostly eat whole grains, veggies, and vegetarian proteins. However I've been averaging ~1800 cals a day, if I go much below that I start to feel really hungry and lightheaded. Spinning burns ~500 calories or so per hour session, and I'm going 3-5 times per week, so I think that number is OK....? If I start doing more yoga/pilates, I think I should dip down to more like 1500 calories.....?

I also know that I need to do some upper-body weight lifting. I have been putting it off lately...because, quite honestly, my arms are wimpy and it is hard for me to do.
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Old 11-16-2007, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by herwrx View Post
Yes, now that I think about it. The trainer is a big, burly, muscular guy. We don't do enough light resistance/high speed spinning IMO, so maybe that is something I need to look into. Also, I think I will try a bit of yoga or pilates for a few weeks and see if that helps
the high resistance of the bikes could definately be a contributing factor.

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Originally Posted by herwrx View Post
I consider myself pretty good with my diet. I was raised to eat healthy, so I don't drink soda, very little juice, and mostly eat whole grains, veggies, and vegetarian proteins. However I've been averaging ~1800 cals a day, if I go much below that I start to feel really hungry and lightheaded. Spinning burns ~500 calories or so per hour session, and I'm going 3-5 times per week, so I think that number is OK....? If I start doing more yoga/pilates, I think I should dip down to more like 1500 calories.....?

I also know that I need to do some upper-body weight lifting. I have been putting it off lately...because, quite honestly, my arms are wimpy and it is hard for me to do.
hrmmm...in another post didn't you say that you were about 5'-9"? 1500 calories may be too little for you. you don't want your body to go into starvation mode. you are still building lean muscle with yoga and pilates, so your lean muscle will burn more in a resting position throughout the day.

i good yoga/pilates session is still going to burn about 150-200 calories in an hour, depending on your weight. even if you switch out two spinning sessions per week with yoga/pilates, that 600 less calories/week you are burning. that is less than 100 calorie/day difference.
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Old 11-16-2007, 03:27 PM
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the high resistance of the bikes could definately be a contributing factor.



hrmmm...in another post didn't you say that you were about 5'-9"? 1500 calories may be too little for you. you don't want your body to go into starvation mode. you are still building lean muscle with yoga and pilates, so your lean muscle will burn more in a resting position throughout the day.

i good yoga/pilates session is still going to burn about 150-200 calories in an hour, depending on your weight. even if you switch out two spinning sessions per week with yoga/pilates, that 600 less calories/week you are burning. that is less than 100 calorie/day difference.
Yeah, I am 5'8". I am only eating when I'm honestly HUNGRY, so I figured my calorie intake was OK. But yeah, dropping to 1500 might be too little since I am so active. I am going to take your suggestion an try some yoga/pilates. I need to do SOMETHING quick because this muscle/water retention/whatever.. has made it impossible to wear all of my beautiful premium denim

Thanks for your help.
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Old 11-17-2007, 07:16 AM
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1800 sounds like a good number/on the low side (but makes sense if you're just starting exercise). Disregard my previous advice to cut calories! Do remember to drink a lot of water (you probably are already, but I will say it anyway) because I really do bet that your muscles retaining some water is a factor. Yoga/pilates is a great idea and will complement the spinning a lot.
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Old 11-17-2007, 10:54 AM
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^Yeah, I'm feeling pretty comfortable at 1800. Is there a mild diuretic I could take to get rid of the excess water my muscles are holding? I'll bet thats part of it.....my quads just feel really bulky, and kind of squishy when I rub them. (If that makes sense....)

Seriously, I'm going to have to start wearing stretchy-pants if this gets any worse
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Old 11-17-2007, 12:29 PM
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I'd stick with lots of water and eliminate any salt (anything processed, even soup, has sodium in it). Sometimes I add lemon to water because I heard it helps, but I don't know if that's true. Diuretics would probably just have a rebound effect.

I hope it eases up soon, that sounds really frustrating and uncomfortable.
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Old 11-17-2007, 02:37 PM
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i've been doing spinning the exact same time as you and I'm getting so frustrated i'm not losing any weight !! I think if you lower your resistance it might help, and maybe do some extra sprints at the end, I remember a spin teacher I had telling me that flushes the muscles of lactic acid, and i'm no exercise guru so I don't know what that means, but I try to always make sure to add my own low resistance sprint at the end after she told me that.
when I dedicatedly (is that a word?) did spin before, I lifted weights as well just twice a week and my thighs actually got smaller, which is fairly hard for me so maybe that may help? good luck and let me know how it goes!!
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Old 11-17-2007, 08:54 PM
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Sprints wouldn't flush lactic acid. That would increase production actually... (Lactic acid is the product of anaerobic respiration...you're using up oxygen faster than your circulatory system can provide your muscles). Now, if you were doing low resistance, at low speeds, that'll help flush lactic acid, think cool down.
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Old 11-18-2007, 12:51 AM
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You need to mix up your cardio. I take spin classes 3-4 times a week, but I also run, stairstep and walk at incline. This way my body is working all muscle groups. Also, add some lunges, plie squats and regular squats. This combo keeps my legs strong but lean.
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Old 11-18-2007, 05:31 PM
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Thanks everyone for your help! I am going to try all of your excellent suggestions, and hopefully get a bit of relief.

I'm just amazed that doing such an EXHAUSTING workout hasn't helped me tone up. I would have thought the FAT would have gone away before the muscles started growing...ugh. In years prior, I would have no problem dropping a couple of pounds working out like this. Meh, I'm 27....maybe its a metabolism change or something?
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