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Bigger legs requires a combination of nutrition, cardio and resistance training.
Running uphill is a form of incline cardio that helps you burn more calories and build muscles. Running on a treadmill with incline emulates the benefits of uphill running. The upward and forward motion is more intense than running on a flat surface; therefore, it's more demanding of your leg muscles. This increase in intensity helps you build muscles in your legs. However, uphill running is still an aerobic exercise, which means you should factor in strength training and nutrition when it comes to increasing your leg size.
Muscle Growth in Legs
An increase in resistance stimulates muscle growth in your lower legs, which an uphill climb can offer. The incline motion utilizes your calf muscles to push-off the ground and propel your body upward and forward. The other secondary muscles engaged are your hamstrings, gluteus maximus, abdominal muscles and quadriceps. An uphill run results in micro-tears in your leg muscles and when you rest, these muscles grow stronger.
Stronger Legs, Not Bigger
Unlike strength-training exercises such as weightlifting, running uphill burns a significant amount of calories. Therefore, uphill running alone will result in toned and strengthened muscles but slimmer legs. According to Columbia Health, burning fat may result in lean body mass loss when the protein and carbs you consume are used as energy for your cardio. This leaves insufficient amounts of protein and carbs to grow and repair your leg muscle. The resistance from the exercise allows you to maintain some muscles, which creates the toned look and not larger legs.
Building Larger Legs
To build larger legs with fat-burning exercise like uphill running, you should increase your calorie intake and perform strength-training exercises. The increase in calories -- particularly protein -- will provide enough calories to sustain your aerobic workout and promote anabolism to grow muscles. Strength training is necessary to stimulate muscle growth, while the protein and carbs feed your muscles, which allows them to grow and repair. Aim for a dietary target of 60 percent complex carbs, 30 percent lean protein and 10 percent healthy fats daily.
Run Uphill in Moderation
An intense aerobic exercise such as uphill running can improve leg strength in moderation, but easily lead to calf muscle and Achilles tendon strain when you overwork your legs. Limit your uphill running sessions to twice a week on non-consecutive days. This will give your calf muscles adequate time to recover from the workout. Mix up your aerobic exercise by running on a flat surface and downhill to target your quadriceps and hamstring muscles.