Why Are Basketball Players Legs So Skinny?

Basketball players are very fit individuals. More than being fit, they also can be pretty tall and lanky.

Unlike other athletes, though, what you will easily notice with basketball players are their legs.

The legs of basketball players are not only long, but they are actually skinny. What do these basketball players do to keep their legs muscular but lean? Is this normal?

Blame It on Their Genes

Everything about the body, especially body structure, is dictated by genetics. The same can be said for the legs of basketball players.

Many of these players have pretty long legs, which gives the illusion of their lower limbs being thin and skinny.

It’s important to note, too, that many professional basketball players are African Americans. For many of them, it is natural to have smaller calves which add to the skinny look, again due to their genetics. This kind of lower body structure makes it easy for them to even do those tall jumps needed in the game with so much ease.

Skinny But Muscular

While the legs of basketball players may seem skinny, do remember that these players go through rigorous training.

These may even be mistaken for skinny leg syndrome with how their legs look, a condition characterized by a big upper body disproportionate to a thin lower body structure.

An eight-week study has shown that rigorous training during that period of time improved not only their physique but also their performance. It also improved their endurance, as seen in an increase in their lactate tolerance.

This proves that the skinny legs in basketball players may actually be a result of constant training, which results in legs that are actually stronger and more toned.

Basketball is a sport too that is more aerobic and cardiovascular too, so you don’t expect to bulk up doing this kind of routine. That said, basketball players undergo weight training to build the strength needed to endure this highly fast-paced game.

Lean and Not Bulky

Basketball is a game that requires much movement on the court. It is a game that requires a lot of running and jumping, which requires as little weight as possible in order for the player to be able to weave through the court without getting easily tired.

Remember that bulking up means building up much muscle and that muscles can actually add to body weight.

Being extremely muscular, especially in the lower body, will make movement more difficult. The extra weight will also cause these players to get tired easily – something that is common in individuals who do more weight training than aerobic exercises.

What Can I Do to Get Skinny Legs?

It is important to underscore at this point that one’s leg shape and structure greatly depend on the genes one has inherited.

That said, there are exercises that can be done to achieve, if not nearly achieve, this kind of physique. Here are just some of those exercises you can do to have those lean yet muscular legs commonly seen on many basketball players.

Lateral Lunges

This is done by first standing in a straight position. From standing, move one leg to the side in a wide stance, making sure that your feet are firmly flat on the ground with toes pointing forward.

Bend the knee on the right, and as you do so, simultaneously stretch the left leg towards the right.

Slowly go back to standing. Do this ten times and switch to the other leg.

Do the same movement, this time bending your left leg.

To have a better visual, you can click on the video on this link.

This exercise is highly recommended for basketball players as this stance is often used when trying to block an opponent whenever necessary.

Romanian Deadlift

This exercise is ideally done using a barbell, although this may also be done if you don’t have any barbell.

Begin by standing straight with feet flat on the floor and a shoulder’s width apart. Bend your knees as if to squat with your buttocks pointed towards the back. Bend forwards with your head facing front and slowly reach for the barbell, knees slightly bent.

Grab the barbell and slowly lift up, keeping your back straight as you lift the barbell until it reaches the knee level. Ensure that your head is facing forward as you do this movement.

Place the barbell slowly down on the floor and repeat this movement ten times.

Check this video to see how a Roman deadlift is done.


Basketball is a sport that calls for endurance since players are made to run around the court and jump in order to shoot the ball into the baskets.

Despite the rigors of the sport, it is often noted that many basketball players have skinny legs, which is made even more obvious through these players towering heights.

Many often credit the skinny legs of basketball players to the time spent on the court by these players. This may hold only partially true since these skinny legs may result from genetics, which is actually what dictates a player’s physique, including his legs.

It’s crucial to note that despite the skinny look of these legs, they may actually be quite strong. After all, staying, running, and jumping all over the court does require quite an amount of endurance. Due to this, it would be unfair to say that these legs are quite weak. On the contrary, these have been shown to be quite strong.

In order to improve the looks of their legs and, more importantly, their strength, many players go through rigid training, aside from the many nights they spend on the court.

However, these kinds of skinny and strong legs are not limited to basketball players. There are numerous strengthening and toning exercises that you can do to achieve the kind of leg shape that basketball players have. This can be done by performing exercises meant for the lower extremities regularly every week.

Chris Davis

I'm Chris, the guy behind BasketballJoy. I've played basketball for 20+ years and have been a full-time coach since 2017. On this website, I share everything I know about the most beautiful sport in the world - Basketball.

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