When is it Common for Men to Shave Their Legs?

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Swimmers, Like Michael Phelps

Phelps diving into pool
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Michael Phelps, like many professional swimmers, is one of the men who shave their legs. Swimmers often shave because it helps reduce friction and water resistance, so they can go faster. People also report they like the feeling of the water against their bare skin, but that's secondary,

You're more likely to see almost completely hairless bodies diving into the pool than hairy ones, when you're looking at professional swimmers. Hair from their legs, arms, underarms, chest, back and even their head often gets removed.

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Male race cyclist driving up mountain road
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Other men who frequently shave their legs are cyclists. Most professional bicycle racers keep their legs bare. In fact, if you're serious about the sport, you might want to start taking the razor to your legs as well.

But professional cyclists have reasons to shave. Since the hair adds insulation, it feels cooler to have bare legs, and cycling can get hot. Not to mention, at the speeds traveled and conditions they ride in, pro cyclists are bound to fall. Cleaning up smooth legs is much easier to do than on hairy ones—especially when removing or adding band-aids is involved. Massage also, a part of many athletes' routine, is said to be more enjoyable over shaved legs because there’s no pulling on the hair.

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Mid adult man, lifting weights, low section
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Bodybuilders often shave their legs, chest, back, arms and underarms so you can see the definition of their muscles clearly when competing. The really intense ones will do waxing, because they're hair-free much longer than shaving.

Hair removal creams, although temporary like shaving, might also be slathered on by bodybuilders, because it allows them to avoid getting razor burn, nicks or cuts. But beware, hair removal creams can leave a chemical burn—and those look much worse than razor burn.

Keep in mind that shaving cream is just as important as the razor for a great nick and burn-free shave. There are plenty of special creams made especially men's body shaving that help soften the hair and relax the follicle for a closer, smoother shave.

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Male Models

Giorgio Armani - Runway - Milan Men's Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2018/19
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Many male models shave their legs, and other body parts like their chest and back. However, they don't always cut everything down totally smooth with a razor. Some shoots will call for hair, some will ask for the model to be hairless. Agencies want models to have options. Often they will trim the hair to 1/8 of an inch so that the hair isn’t detectable to the camera, but it keeps them from risking razor side effects like cuts, nicks or razor burn.

There are many trimmers and groomers for men that allow for shaving with special blades or trimming to different lengths. Some have wet and dry capability, so you can use them in or out of the shower. 

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Soccer (Football) Players, Like Cristiano Ronaldo

Real Madrid v Girona - La Liga
Quality Sport Images / Getty Images

Some guys shave their legs for soccer (or football if you live outside the U.S.A.) Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, from Portugal, often do it. You can't really say having hairless legs makes them travel faster like swimmers in ​water, but just like other athletes they have their reasons. Soccer players are constantly wrapping injuries with tape—and having that hair get pulled on really hurts. Similarly, they also get leg massages regularly, so they need the extra comfort.

There's nothing like showing the other team what they're up against. I also think hair getting pulled on and stuck in a chin guard has really got to hurt too.

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Meb running in the TCS New York City Marathon
Elsa / Getty Images

Not most runners are shaving their legs. However, because it’s a very demanding sport, some keep them smooth for the same reasons as other male athletes: keeping cool, no pulling on hair with massages, and ultimately showing off leg muscles.