I need to build up my legs

Since March, I’ve lost nearly 60 pounds. Mrs. L.A. says my legs are too skinny. Recently my ‘exercise’ has been digging up tree roots and other heavy work. Otherwise I walk 3.4 miles (in 1:08, if that means anything). Anyway, Mrs. L.A. is right. Last time I saw legs like mine, there was a note tied to them.

Here’s the thing: I had injuries in high school. My right leg doesn’t bend quite as far back as it should, and I can’t lift my right great toe due to nerve damage suffered in a skiing accident. I’m missing the patellar tendon on my left leg (and part of the patella) so my kneecap isn’t where it should be. Basically, I’m missing the fulcrum and my left leg can buckle from time to time.

Mrs. L.A. says I need to start swimming. There’s a pool at the YMCA about 10 miles or so from here. They have ‘Water Fitness’, which they describe as a ‘full body workout’ that is good for people with joint problems. They also have lap swimming, which I used to do in the (tiny) pool at my apartment when I lived in L.A. Would either of these help build up my legs?

How else can I work on them?

It’s a bit tricky to build muscle. You can’t just work out a muscle. You have to work out a muscle in a specific way which triggers muscle growth. Typically, that means working the muscle at a high enough exertion level that the stress triggers muscle growth. Lower level workouts don’t reach that level.

Water fitness probably isn’t going to be great for building muscles. It’ll be good for giving your existing muscles a workout, but that type of activity doesn’t build muscle.

Swimming can build leg muscles, but you’d want to do mostly kick sets. Most people who swim use their upper body a lot and their legs are just along for the ride. If instead you did sets where you used a kickboard and just used your legs, you’d could build up leg muscles. But you’d have to make sure you’re doing hard kick sets. If you’re just moving your legs at a calm pace, it won’t be intense enough.

You might want to consider cycling classes. The bikes have a dial where you can make it harder. The bike keeps your leg and knees aligned, so you may be able to avoid injury. But again, you’d need to workout with the resistance set at a high enough level to stress the muscles.

Rowers and steppers are also good machines for leg workouts.

But right now, don’t get too hung up on finding the perfect activity. If you do nothing, your body will continue atrophy your muscles. Any activity which uses your legs is going to help slow down or halt muscle loss.

The limited range of motion on my right knee makes cycling problematic.

How well is the walking working out? It sounds like you have some good distance there. If your legs are okay with that, you could try to make it more difficult by wearing a weighted backpack. If you’re okay with pulling stumps, maybe you could do squats or tractor-tire flips.

You should probably join the Y regardless. They will have a variety of classes and equipment that will allow you to work your legs as well as your whole body, which everyone should be doing on a regular basis anyway. Your wife can join and you can workout together. You can ask the manager to go over the classes they offer and ask which ones might be good for what you need given your ability. They may offer X days as a free trial, so you can try it and see if it works for you.

A gym will also have personal trainers, which can be useful for one-on-one guidance. Although cost will be more of a factor, they can often create a workout with specific activities for your specific needs.

Or I could walk up and down the little hill to the beach. An older woman in the neighbourhood calls it ‘Devil’s Hill’ because it’s a little steep.

Ahahahahahahahahaha! :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: She reckons she worked out enough in the Army.

Yeah, I think it’s $40/month or $456/year.

Remember Rocky II?

Running or even walking in Sand increases the level of resistance.

Imho You’re already doing enough by oosing weight and taking a daily walk. That’s more exercise than many Americans get.

I’d strongly recommend that you don’t do anything to make your knee worse. That would end the exercise you are already getting. Wear a medical knee band for support on your walks. Get a recommendation from a good sports orthopedist. I learned that lesson the hard way. Surgery and rehab isn’t easy.

You could use Velcro ankle weights. They come in 1 and 2lbs. Start with the smaller weight. You’ll be surprised how tiring that 1 lb gets on a 3 mile walk.

People have ruptured their Achilles tendon and torn/pulled hamstrings doing that.The leg didn’t evolve to have heavy weight around the foot. The weighted backpack mentioned upthread will load the leg as intended.

  1. Not to fight the premise, but why? Why, at this point of your life do you care that your legs look skinny?

  2. To play the premise though - sure, so long as the increases are very gradual to not risk injury with backing down for any discomfort, do more hill walking, sand walking, stair climbing, ankle weight wearing, flipper kick sets in the pool, weighted seated leg extensions, so on. Gradual progression focusing on gentle increase of intensity not time as your volume is already high. Don’t get hurt!

But really your heavy yard work and long brisk walks are wonderful functional exercise and assuming that the weight loss was intentional and not due to illness, congratulations! Focus more on keeping up the exercise you are doing and having fun doing it than worrying about stopping a car for ride by putting your leg out.

I didn’t realize just walking with an ankle weight would be a problem. But I defer to running coach. :wink:

I’ve learned avoiding injury is so important as we grow older. It’s better to do some limited exercise than none at all because of pain.

Reaching middle age and beyond sucks. I took athletics for granted for so much of my life. Now I’ve learned to take better care of my older body.

I would talk to a doctor or physical therapist to see what can be safely done with your limitations. You don’t want to cause more injury.

A key point is that it needs to be something you will keep doing–and often the activities recommended by fitness freaks don’t meet this criteria for most people.

So something like getting a dog and taking him for long walks might be something that works.

A reasonable point that ankle weights can sometimes be problematic, especially with a history of knee issues … but we are not exactly evolved to carry heavy backpacks around either. Neck, shoulder, and lower back injuries are pretty common there. Main thing is not too much of any one loading and gradual progression. And again, being less concerned about vanity, and more health and fitness!

Someone mentioned engaging a sports/fitness trainer, and I have no arguments for or against. However, a couple of years ago I noticed a pronounced “toe drop” in my left foot, and the musculature in my left leg was markedly less massive than in the right. Having had a good experience with a local physical therapy business for a different problem previously I walked in there wearing the $1100 foot-ankle orthotic I had fitted at SportsMed.

The physical therapists evaluated the situation, and more importantly evaluated my goals (stop the toe drop and strengthen the leg). They set me up for 12 one-hour sessions with one of the team working on each area. After the second session I never wore the orthotic again, and by the end of the treatment the atrophy had been overcome. Oh, yes, we had also retrained my left leg “how to walk”. I think it was a splendid outcome and that physical therapists are pretty much medical geniuses.

I have to admit that having good insurance coverage helped an awful lot, as sessions cost $150-$200 an hour depending on the therapist, but I’d still recommend it as a possible resource for you.

Your weight loss might actually be the culprit–I have a friend who has lost a lot of weight over the past year or so due to a weirdly undiagnosible GI problem. He has a hard time getting enough calories to keep his body weight up and for whatever weird reason his body will sometimes allow a bit of his old spare tire to build up while at the same time cannibalizing muscle from his thighs. I know you’re doing keto, are you sure you’re getting all the protein you need to support your working out? My friend has had some good luck with drinking lots of that protein fortified muscle milk stuff–he hates it, but it does keep his thighs from going narrower than his knees!

One thing everyone needs to realize is that your muscles will naturally atrophy as you get older unless you regularly put them under stress. This often happens around your 30’s or 40’s. If you remain sedentary, then your body will adapt to that level of exertion. And for most of us, that means a level of activity which consists of walking back and forth to the car.

This can cause major health problems as you get older. Your weakened body is greatly at risk for getting injured from simple activities. Lifting a heavy bag of groceries from the trunk can throw your back out, which may take a significant amount of time to heal. You may take a step and slip, your weakened body isn’t strong enough to regain balance, so you fall and break something. And when you’re older, you get injured much easier and it takes much, much longer to heal from those injuries.

The good thing is you don’t have to workout like crazy. Taking long walks is a great way to keep your core and legs in good shape. The more you do the better it is, but even a small amount of exercise is greatly beneficial to maintaining quality of life as you get older.

If your wife is reluctant to workout, it’s not surprising, but it would be beneficial if you could encourage her to work out with you. Start taking water aerobics and talk about how fun it is. If she’s still reluctant, tell her all the other ladies in the class are flirting with you and it’s distracting you from working out :slight_smile:

A few questions just so I know a little more about what your limitations are: can you do a bodyweight squat? How about a deeper sumo squat? You’ve said a bicycle is out, have you tried an elliptical machine?

If lunges aren’t possible, and it sounds like they aren’t, you can try what my trainer called “speed skaters”. It’s more like doing a curtsy than a lunge, and it’s easier on your knees. When I do them, I do them facing a bookshelf or something I can hang on to for balance.

Good work on the walking. I’m doing that as well: during a typical weekday I’ll take 4 or 5 15-minute walks, on the weekend I just do it straight. My wife has been calling my legs “sexy”, which grosses out my 11-year-old daughter, which makes me laugh.