Got Muscles and Proud of It? Barbell Denim Debuts Jeans Made Specifically For Athletes and Our Muscular Legs!

by Charlotte on April 25, 2014 · 22 comments



I’m sure these were the prototype.

Remember that time I ripped the crotch out of my jeans when my muscular thighs Incredible-Hulked my wussy J.Crew’s? Good times! You may remember I finally found a pair of stretch denim jeans in a curvy fit that didn’t make my thighs feel like sausages on sale, bought two pairs and have been wearing them exclusively since then. Of course I’m not the first athletic person to come up with this solution. The pros do it too!

“I have an enormous butt,” Canadian Olympic skier Jan Hudec proudly declared in an interview with the New York Times about – what else? – jeans shopping. He admits that, like me, when he finds a pair that fits he wears them forever, even shipping them to his mom to fix when they get torn because the chances of finding another pair are so slim.

Clearly there are a lot of us that have a hard time finding denim that will fit the waist but still accommodate larger thighs, booties and calves. Many of us have noticed that as our squat weight goes up, our options when jeans shopping go down, which is why I was so excited to see Barbell Denim, a new company that designs jeans specifically with athletes in mind.

“We were tired of struggling with jeans that didn’t fit, weren’t comfortable, and completely restricted our ability to move. So we decided to fix it,” explain the founders, who boast they spend upwards of 20 hours a week snowboarding, mountain biking, motorcycling, and doing just about any adrenaline fueled movement you can think of. (My kind of work environment!)

“I’ve spent 28 years squatting in that squat position, and I’m really proud of it,” says Chemmy Alcott, a British skier. “It would be a lot easier for me to be a skinny normal person. I have to work really hard to get this muscle,” she says. “We’ve got booties!”

One of my pet peeves about traditional jeans (besides the fact that they rarely fit me) is that they often try to minimize or camouflage larger legs which not only make my legs feel strangled but hide the muscle I’ve been working so hard in the gym to build! Even “curvy fit” denim falls short as it gives extra room for apple bottoms but doesn’t for muscular legs and with a two-size difference between my waist and my thighs this is a real fit problem. Honestly this is why I wear skirts and dresses so often. People think I’m just ultra-girly (and I kinda am) but I’m also more comfortable in them.

But I’m all about embracing my shape these days and I’m not looking for jeans to make my legs look smaller, I’m looking for pants to flatter them and show them off! My curves already help me rock the heck out of a pencil skirt, why can’t jeans make me look smokin’ too?

Note: This is often where people tell me to embrace the wonder that is jeggings and I’ll admit to owning a couple of pairs and they are comfy. But I’ll also admit to only wearing them with tunic-length tops as the thin material feels too revealing for me. Plus I feel like a little bit of structure to the denim makes them hold their shape better (just say no to saggy baggy bottoms!) and hold me in better (I’ve had five kids, just saying I don’t mind a little help).

This is exactly why the company says they designed their premium stretch denim to “fit comfortably over muscular legs by accommodating your quads and butt without forcing you to buy larger sizes for the small waist you work so hard for.” They add that the jeans stay firmly on the side jeans and not jeggings. And, judging from their pictures, not only will you look cute standing in their jeans but you can also do full splits (you know, for all those occasions where you need to do splits).  In addition, they offer men’s styles as well because as any bodybuilder will tell you, this isn’t just a girl problem.


The good news: Barbell Denim has got such a great response that they’re considering branching out to other clothing items and considering the company’s kickstarter campaign has already raised thirteen times the amount of money they originally asked for, it’s obvious that I’m not the only squat-loving girl excited for their debut. Bad news: They’re still in the kickstarter phase of development which means you can’t actually by them yet. Now, if only they can make me a blazer that will fit my ripped shoulders!

Anyone else have this problem buying jeans? Anyone else ever Incredible-hulked a pair of pants? What are your go-to jeans?


{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer Hudy April 25, 2014 at 5:01 am

I have been wearing Cocabang jeans, a pair that launched last year around this time with a Kickstarter as well. They are sooo comfortable and you can even squat in them. ;) AND.. they even have tops, too! (though quite a bit out of my price range)

I am interested in seeing if these are similar, but LOVE that they cater to men as well! We have so many guys at the gym frustrated with their tiny waists and then BOOM quads and glutes! I think I may pick up a pair just because they must be similar to the ones that I have from Cocabang and about half the price while in their campaign!

Unrelated.. did you change your blog layout back to the old way? Or did I dream that you had a new layout..?


Cbuffy April 25, 2014 at 5:45 am

I totally Incredibly Hulked my jeans – ripped from knee to knee – like a little kid with his onsie unsnapped. Unfortunately it wasn’t cuz my thighs were musculicious – it was my thyroid coming to a screaching halt, combined with the Freshman 15+. Kicker? I did it while getting on my horse at the BYU Stables and required that I WALK back to my apartment on the opposite side of campus – and back in the day, jeans weren’t permitted on campus, so I couldn’t just cut across the middle. Had to squirt around the edges and dodge campus police the whole way. Fab.


Rachael April 25, 2014 at 6:27 am

Have never Hulked a pair of jeans but always have a hard time finding a pair that fits. The sagging gap at the waist, suction to my thighs, gap at the knees, suction to my calves look just doesn’t do it for me (sausage links). Some of the Calvin Kline jeans work okay for me, but not always. Though lately a lot of their styles have a bit older cut to them (high waist, high pockets, mom butt), which I don’t dig.

Husband has a similar issue. Muscular butt and thighs so no pants really “fit”. They are either baggy or ridiculously snug.


Susan Helene Gottfried April 25, 2014 at 8:29 am

Ha. I’m wearing my only pair of jeans today… by Mountain Hardware. Although I do need a belt with ‘em, but at least it’s a belt with bling… ;)


joemama April 25, 2014 at 8:57 am

My hubby has this problem. He has tree trunk legs and a bubble butt. He’s also 6’5″. He wears very baggy jeans cinched in with a belt. He always looks sloppy, but ‘guy who hates shopping” + hard to shop for body type = sloppy looking guy. I, on the other hand, have the flattest, widest booty invented. This presents its own unique jeans-related challenges.


Darwin April 25, 2014 at 9:19 am

No, this isn’t just a girl problem.

Thus I am not “ultra girly” at all.

The whole dress and skirts thing was never an attractive option for me.

Although I did wear a kilt for several consecutive evenings during the performance of a play.

I prefer pants.

Just saying.

So when I buy pants for myself, I try them on and do the move Chuck Norris is doing in the top picture.

When it works comfortably, I buy the pants.

However, I do not have this option when other people buy me jeans.

So those are all “leg strangle” until my thighs bust the seam. Or the material itself.

So I too only have a couple of “go to” pairs.

It was always very odd to me that they would make “leg strangle” jeans for guys.

I have absolutely no interest in making my legs look smaller.

One pair of my “go to” jeans are black.

The other are blue.

I have also Incredibly Hulked a shirt or two.

(Sometimes there is not time to change if you help someone move between sessions of General Conference. My suit jacket covered it.)

And Cbuffy, I am jealous. Even with five years at BYU I never made it to the stables.

I have a friend who lives in California and she claims that English saddles are the best.


Cbuffy April 25, 2014 at 2:02 pm

They’re probably nicer now than they were years and years ago… (I also got to take my written final in their tiny indoor arena whilst they “cut” a stallion and turned him into a gelding. Quite the educational experience – I’m pretty sure they did it on purpose…)

And English saddles are SLIPPERY! (Plus my horse says it makes his butt look big.)


Darwin April 25, 2014 at 2:38 pm

*laughing SO hard*

Your horse has excellent logic.

I did not know about the “slippery aspect of English saddles. I just told her they seemed impractical for long rides.

Or rodeos.

My Dad used to ride in rodeos until he got married and my Mom made him stop.

And I was ALSO in the BYU Class of “Years and Years” ago!

What a coincidence!


Cindy April 25, 2014 at 9:40 am

I have a booty and big legs but a small waist so I always find I am showing plumber butt in the back and tucking my jeans into my bra in the front. Most pants are just too far from fitting to even look at having them altered. I have just told myself I don’t like the look of jeans. Stretchy pants are where it is at!
I find now that I can have clothes made for the same price as buying them for the most part.


Megan @ Meg Go Run April 25, 2014 at 9:52 am

My biggest problem with jeans is pocket placement. A poorly placed pocked can make my butt look saggy. My butt is NOT saggy but pockets can make it look like it is! The other problem is my thighs and butt are a lot bigger than my waist. I only have 2 pairs of jeans (both generic brands) and the rest of the time I wear leggings. I freaking love leggings!


smac-a-roo April 25, 2014 at 9:54 am

Plumber butt: yes
Split my pants: yes
Sausage -looking jeans: yes
Jeggings/leggins: no – look awful on my body type, only with a dress and boots (ie. to act as tights)
I did buy the jeans you had raved about a while back and stil lwear them, but as a general rule, trouser fit suits me best( with the gap in te waist, of course)
I recently bought my first pair of :skinny” jeans, tey are actually “boyfirend cropped (suppsoed to be short, but I am so short, tey go below my ankle), and htey fit like skinnies without hte thigh/calf tightenss and knee loose weird look. they are jimmy-jimmy paige and UUUBER expensive…
I would love to try these jeans, and the cocabang Jennifer mentioend…


Sarah April 25, 2014 at 10:19 am

I actually just Kickstarted these. I have a tendancy to Hulk-splode the entire rear end out of my jeans. It’s awful. The idea of a pair of jeans that are not only geared toward my body type but also has the possibility of squatting, lunging, and yoga! What?!


Abby April 25, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Yes! I’ve totally complained about this every time you’ve written about this. I actually (shockingly) found that the curviest style of Old Navy jeans fit my thighs without them feeling strangled and, unlike the Old Navy jeans I had a few years ago, these new ones actually hold their shape really, really well. I think it just depends on where you put that muscle on. But I agree, once you find a pair that works, buy 20 pairs!


Amy @ Run Mom Run April 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm

I don’t usually have this problem with jeans, but with tops. There are so many cute tops that the sleeves cut off circulation in my arms – and I’m not overly muscular at all. I mean I’m a runner, so my arms are pathetic!


Sabrina April 25, 2014 at 5:31 pm

I did once Incredible Hulk a pair of pants (khakis, not jeans), while working in one of my grad-school clinical placements, a language group for two-year-olds with autism. In a room with one-way mirrors. With the parents of the kids observing on the other side. Awesome. I kept going, but did some creative side steps to avoid exposing my backside to the mirror.

I have the proportionally big booty and thighs problem. Not the calves; those are scrawny as can be, no matter how much exercise I do. They are very muscular, but they don’t bulk up. Hence my problem with the trend toward skinny jeans; I look like an ice cream cone. I often have that awful gap at the back waist if I can get my thighs into the pants. When I find a good pair, I treat them with kid gloves, to get them to last. I too prefer the solid feel of real denim to the thinner feel of jeggings; while I’ve “only” had three kids, I definitely also don’t mind the help!

I love skirts but find them impractical (I work with toddlers), so I don’t wear them much. Maybe I should start wearing them more on my days off…


Jody - Fit at 56 April 25, 2014 at 6:33 pm

I just shared this on my FB page yesterday! :) Pretty cool!


Andrea B. April 25, 2014 at 6:45 pm

I like the idea of Barbell jeans, and heaven knows I have too much booty and quad for the standard skinny jeans to ever fit over comfortably, but I have this fantasy that I can find jeans to fit me that aren’t 10% spandex. I don’t WANT to do splits and squats in my jeans, I have perfectly nice exercise clothes for that stuff. What I’d like are jeans made of, you know, typical jean denim, that fit because the fabric is actually cut to my shape, not because it will stretch around my quads like a snake swallowing an elephant.


Robin April 26, 2014 at 4:20 am

This company is so amazing! Can’t wait to try some on. I hadn’t seen your earlier posts about your jean issues but just read them and am so glad you are talking about this! I have ripped 3 or 4 pairs of jeans, in the same spot over the last year–on a lovely vertical slip at the top of the thigh outside the zipper…all because of my expanding thighs and because of the many, many squats and lunges and other things I do. I just ripped my first pair in the rear while bending the other day–all super-expensive–and you scratch your head thinking: have I gained weight? no, I haven’t, but why don’t my jeans fit when they did before? Something has changed though and that toll it takes on you and body-image is the opposite of positive. Now I know it’s not just me, so thanks!


Joanna Aislinn April 26, 2014 at 5:47 am

Yay for this article! I’ve recently gotten into barre workouts. Feeling great and core-stronger, but kept feeling like my thighs are getting bigger! (Feeling so sad about that too, but you made me feel better! My tennis game is much improved too, so hey! I’ll take it!)

I will never have muscilicious thighs or belly, but at least the back end is much improved in a pair of jeans. I’ve recently dared to wear a pair of skinny jeans–heck, my MOM told me they looked good. She NEVER says that; last time I mentioned something about declining to buy a pair b/c they were loose, she told me they’d most likely been stretched out by someone else (as in, “You’re too heavy for the pair to have been loose on you.”) And I wonder why I have body image issues…

Pear shapes are not considered by jean designers either. I’ve learned to adapt my jeans’ waistline with elastic at the back to take up the gap–sometimes at the sides too. Works very well, is barely noticeable and much cheaper than having them tailored (sometimes more effective too).

Great post, Charlotte. Thnx!


Erin April 28, 2014 at 12:47 pm

My problem is actually my calves! I have really muscular calves so the on-trend skinny jeans tend to be so tight there it looks ridiculous. I also can’t find a pair of white jeans that aren’t so tight on my thighs that you can see the pockets through the fabric. And this would be why I hate shopping for pants of any type.


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