How to Lose Muscle Mass on Purpose?


I know this is going to be a controversial post.

It is beyond the realm of imagination on most fitness sites to ever talk about losing muscle on purpose.

How to lose muscle mass

I know I have disrupted the bodybuilding gods by even typing this phrase!

Click Here for my “Yacht Bod” Article: How to get a slim & sophisticated physique that looks equally stunning in dress clothes or a swimsuit.

Let’s talk about this subject.

I’m convinced many people believe it is politically incorrect to talk about how to lose muscle mass.

Fitness websites seem to dance around the subject.

They will use phrases such as “slim down”.

I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to this.

The fact is that it does make sense for some people to lose muscle on purpose.

Aren’t we all suppose to gain as much muscle as possible?

I hear people talking about losing fat, or losing weight, but rarely about losing muscle.

If the term “lose muscle” is used, it is always used as a negative. In fact, if you listen to all the mainstream info more muscle is always better than less muscle.

The main reason for this is that you often times will hear that “muscle burns more calories all day long and helps you stay lean”.

How did I get the idea for an article about how to lose muscle?

A reader named Michael asked this question:

“I have these powerful short-ish legs (6’2 with a 32-inch inseam), and while I have focused for 15 years on building shoulders and back to not much avail, all I have to do is think hard about my legs, and they grow. And every few years, I make this same mistake. I decide that a couple of heavy singles a week will not do anything. Wrong.”

“I would go and rack a couple of hundred pounds and just do A squat. Or three heavy singles. Twice a week. Thats it. Well, my legs look like pile drivers again.”

“So, here is the question. How can one use a limited gym availability period to allow muscles to shrink/catabolize? Further, I have read people talking about “muscle shifting” by not lifting the target group, lifting other areas, and not eating sufficient protein. What do you think of this? What’s the best way to get my old legs back? If you tell me, I will promise to never give in to the squat itch again…”

I also found funny advice on a few forums.

For instance…

A former female soccer player explained that she had tree-trunk legs that she wanted to slim down.

slim down tree trunk legs

Half of the people replied and said to get a bigger upper body to even things out.

Not the answer she was looking for.

Others claimed that she is a woman so it is IMPOSSIBLE for her to look bulky.

This is another myth.

It is possible to gain strength without size with a proper workout design, but…

There currently isn’t any advice online for men and women teaching how to purposely lose muscle.

I decided it was time for a detailed article on how to reduce muscle mass.

how to lose muscle mass

I certainly don’t think most people need to go out of their way to lose muscle…

But some do.

In fact, a huge complaint that many women have is that lifting makes their legs too bulky.

I’ll address that.

I also know many guys are sick of lugging around a large amount of muscle. I have been there and it slows you down.

Excess muscle mass also tends to sag, it doesn’t age well.

More often than not it is the legs that get too bulky, but I have seen guys and girls with overly developed traps, pecs, shoulders, obliques, etc.

I dropped 25+ pounds of muscle 19 years ago because nice clothing wouldn’t fit right… I looked like a dork.

I spent the first 12+ years of working out to try to get as big as possible.

This made me feel slow, it was hard to find clothes that fit well, and I was sick of lugging all of that weight around.

Getting overly muscular creates a try-hard cheesy appearance.

I decided to I wanted to look slim like a stylish villain in a James Bond movie, not look like a boofy WWE wrestler.

It took me close to a year to slim down.

I’ve been carrying around much less muscle these past 19 years and I look and feel better than ever.

I’ll share the strategy here.

Let’s talk about how to lose muscle in the legs first… since I believe this is the biggest problem area for both men and women.

how to lose muscle mass fast

Big legs were my #1 issue as well.

My legs were outrageously large and bulky.

I used to be a monster at squats and deadlifts. I could easily do 3-4 sets of 405 for 5-6 reps with squats.

Yes, I know to the hardcore lifters this doesn’t sound like much, but I am 6’3″ and I have a long way to travel on each rep, plus I did this at low body fat levels while having a ripped six pack.

I wasn’t a fat slob with his gut sticking out doing squats.

I enjoyed doing squats back then because my legs pumped up like balloons.

Plus I got all kinds of compliments from the guys in the free weight rooms, who were impressed with how deep I could squat with that type of weight.

This leads me to the first tip…

To lose muscle in your legs, drop all direct resistance training that targets your quads and hamstrings.

lose muscle on your thighs

This was a hard one for me to decide to do since I used to make fun of guys that just trained their upper body.

The problem is that if your legs are big, almost any resistance style exercise is going to help you maintain that size.

What if you want to increase the size of your glutes without getting bigger thighs?

Read my article here:

5 Exercises That Grow Your Glutes NOT Your Legs

Here’s the top tip when it comes to how to lose muscle in your thighs…

The #1 rule to lose muscle in your legs: Avoid anything that creates a “pump” in the legs.

fastest way to lose muscle

Even things like riding an exercise bike CAN pump up your legs and cause them to stay the same size.

My sister is a fan of cardio machines and she refuses to do cardio on an exercise bike because it increases the size of her thighs.

The exercise bike can really create a large pump in the legs.

Jogging on a treadmill is the best way to slim your legs down (lose muscle in your legs).

Once your legs are a smaller size, feel free to give the exercise bike a shot again.

I would also limit intense HIIT (temporarily).

HIIT is a great form of cardio for those who want to maintain muscle, but NOT the best for losing muscle.

HIIT is an amazing way to get extremely lean without losing muscle.

This is ideal for most of the readers, but Not for those people who want to lose muscle in their legs.

Marathon cardio is the best way to lose muscle fast.

marathon cardio to reduce muscle mass fast

If you are trying to lose a bit of muscle mass, you need to do what I call “Marathon Cardio”.

Jump on a treadmill and do a medium to high intensity steady state cardio for an extended period of time.

Aim for 45-60 minutes at as fast a rate as you can handle for that period of time.

Marathon cardio is used by boxers to “make weight”.

They basically call it “road work”, but it involves long periods of running at a pretty high intensity level.

A calorie deficit will speed up this process.

calorie deficit for weight loss

Don’t go too extreme here, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to go low-cal during this period of time. Heck, I like to go low-cal a few times a year just to give my digestive system a break and detox a bit.

Here’s a link to my favorite calorie calculator.

This will give you a great starting point on figuring out how many calories you need to lose weight.

Make sure you go into your workout with an empty stomach and don’t eat a meal right after exercising, wait about 1 hour before eating anything if it is convenient.

How to lose muscle on any part of the body.

It’s a little easier than slimming down your legs.

  • You still want to work the muscle group, but dramatically cut down the sets and reps.
  • Lift heavy for low reps and don’t go to failure.
  • Also, just like your legs, you are going to want to avoid the pump on this body part.

This is going to allow you to keep that area strong and dense without having the excess mass.

This builds a strong, functional body that winds up holding a “natural” amount of muscle.

I’m going to go ahead and point out my most controversial fitness view…

Many people would benefit from dropping direct leg work from time to time and increase cardio.

For a lot of people, cardio seems to create the ideal-sized leg that is functional as well.

Not only that, the extra time available for cardio will help you keep a lower body fat level year round.

The nice thing is that they will remain a normal size while firming up.

Just periodically add in 2-3 months of direct lower body resistance training if you feel your legs are looking too small.

Add in specific glute exercises if you want to build up the butt without bulking your legs.

Note: Michael, I hope that answers your question at least partially. I haven’t heard much about “muscle shifting”, so I can’t comment on that.

Click Here for my “Yacht Bod” Article: How to get a slim & sophisticated physique that looks equally stunning in dress clothes or a swimsuit.

Bottom line is that you need to get a good pair of running shoes and hit the pavement (or treadmill).


-Rusty Moore

As a former fitness coach to fashion models, I can teach you how to increase muscle definition without adding size.

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