One of the biggest questions I get from women is how to get rid of thigh fat. It’s a big problem area for a lot of women.
Women tell me they easily gain thigh fat and it’s usually the last place they seem to lose it. With warmer weather coming up many women want to get swimsuit and shorts ready for the summer.
But thigh fat can be a big pain spot for a lot of women as it’s a stubborn area to lose weight and excess fat. The good news is you don’t have to wear jeans all summer long. By using the methods below you’ll start removing this stubborn thigh fat fast.
The crazy part is you can lose weight, but the thigh fat doesn’t’ go away. This can be disappointing and discouraging to not see any improvement towards losing your leg fat. That’s because more weight loss isn’t the answer you have to use the methods below to get the results you’re looking for.
Trying to lose your leg fat can be stubborn and discouraging. But below, I’ll show you how to get rid of it without expensive and risky plastic surgery.
Here you’ll discover how to tone up and lose the fat on your thighs without gaining big muscles.
What Causes Thigh Fat
Women naturally have a higher body fat percentage than men for childbearing purposes and from hormones. According to the American Council on Exercise, the average American man has between 18 to 24% body fat. While women have an average of 25 to 31% body fat (1).
Slightly higher estrogen levels and genes will promote the storage of thigh fat in women (2). Some women have a “pear-shaped” body type and are more prone to storing fat in their thighs and hips (3). Hormonal changes from peri-menopause and menopause can make this fat move to the belly (4).
Men tend to have a body type that carries more belly fat (5). You can use these strategies to lose belly fat naturally if you’re looking to lose that spare tire.
Researchers have found fat cells are genetically pre-destined for the location based on the person’s genes (5). The researchers found that storage was not the result of diet or environment, but because of a person’s genetic makeup.
Studies have also found leg fat helps women reduce their risk of heart disease and diabetes (6). This is why some women with more belly fat than leg fat tend to have more heart attacks.
Although there are some newer studies conflicting with these findings. Researchers are now advocating the reduction in thigh fat to reduce heart disease risk (7).
Carrying more leg fat was useful for increasing the chances of survival for your caveman ancestors. Storing fat in women’s thighs and hips helped to store energy reserves in case of future famine or drought.
Cavewomen were also able to still have a baby and feed them if they had extra energy stores in their bodies. Women need more calories while pregnant and breastfeeding so the storage of extra body fat was essential (8).
Nowadays it seems like more of an unattractive hindrance to carry leg fat and can seem almost impossible to lose. But there are proven ways you can lose the fat on your thighs and toned them up.
Is It Possible to Target Lose Thigh Fat?
When most women try to reduce fat on their thighs they just try to increase weight loss. But this can make you end up looking “skinny fat.” More weight loss isn’t really the answer because your body fat could still be high. The trick to losing stubborn fat isn’t with more weight loss but with overall fat loss and then adding in leg exercises to build muscle on your thighs.
But if you talk to any personal trainer out there they’ll be quick to tell you that spot reduction is a myth and doesn’t work. Most older peer-reviewed studies found spot treatment reduction was ineffective to reduce fat in targeted areas of the body (9).
Research says you have fat cells all over your body so it’s practically impossible to reduce fat in just one targeted area. And there is a lot of truth to spot reduction not being very effective.
You can’t just do the Suzanne Somers “Thigh Master” all day to lose your leg fat. You will need to reduce fat overall and use thigh exercises to build up your legs muscles to tone them up.
According to the study, most women who are genetically “pear-shaped” tend to lose body fat in their upper body much sooner than their lower body. (10) But a new study was just published in 2017 finding that spot reduction isn’t quite a total myth (11).
The researchers found lower body strength training resulted in more fat loss in the lower body. While the upper body strength training group lost more fat in their upper body. This is interesting because the whole-body fat loss was similar in both groups. There might be something to say about spot reduction working at least a little bit.
Best Way to Lose Thigh Fat
Just doing more cardio workouts isn’t going to be the answer to lose your thigh fat. Long and low-intensity steady-state cardio is not the most effective way to lose fat. But it will help if you aren’t doing anything except sitting on the couch all day.
Walking is better than nothing but there are much better ways to lose the fat on your thighs than that. Doing more High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts is the most effective way to quickly burn fat throughout your body (11).
HIIT workouts help to increase your body temperature, blood flow and increases your body’s natural fat-burning hormones. Try running up hills as fast as you can and walking back down. Make sure you have an intense incline and you’re giving it an all-out max effort while you’re sprinting up the hill.
Metabolic Resistance Training workouts are also highly effective to burn fat and gain toned muscle at the same time. Using compound and complimenting non-competing exercises with minimal rest periods in between sets will increase your heart rate for many hours after finishing a workout. These kinds of intense workouts have been found to keep your body burning fat and calories up to 38 hours after you finish completing the workout (12).
Make sure you do some cardio after your strength training workouts to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise to lose the fat on your legs (13). Adding in an extra 20-30 minutes of cardio after your weightlifting can do a lot for maximizing your fat loss.
Dieting is also key to losing fat throughout your entire body. There’s a saying amongst trainers, “You can out-train a bad diet.” And this is 100% correct. Even if you’re doing the workouts, it will still be very hard to lose any leg fat or weight if your diet is trash.
Start by adding these nutrition tips into your diet plan:
- Put your body into a calorie deficit
- Lower your carb intake (the higher your carbs the more water your body stores)
- Eat more lean protein
- Eat more real whole foods
- Drop sugar, processed foods, bad vegetable oils & alcohol
- Drink more water
- Eat more leafy greens & cruciferous vegetables
These are just the essentials for an effective fat burning diet. For a complete fat-burning diet and workout blueprint check out my Flat Belly Formula system. It contains a full done-for-you blueprint that’ll get you quick results without having to starve yourself or workout like a maniac.
10 Exercises To Get Rid Of Thigh Fat
- Start off in the standing position. You can either hold a pair of dumbbells or keep your hands on your hips.
- Take a big step forward and place the foot firmly on the ground. Lower your back knee towards the floor.
- Stop right before your knee gets about an inch above the floor and come back up to the starting position. Then repeat on the other leg.
- Start off in the standing position with your feet hip-width apart and your chest out with your shoulders back. You can either hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides or at your chest to increase the intensity.
- Begin to lower your hips towards the ground like you’re taking a seat on a chair behind you. Go down low enough into your thighs are parallel to the floor before you stand back up to the standing position.
- Make sure you don’t round your back or lean forward during the exercise.
- Find a box (or you can use a chair) that is about knee height for this exercise. You can either hold a pair of dumbbells at your side or at your chest to increase intensity.
- Take a step up with 1 foot on top of the box. Then with the foot on top of the box lift yourself up into the standing position.
- Then bring yourself back down to the floor. Switch feet and step up with the other foot this time.
- Start off in the standing position with your feet hip-width apart and you can hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides to increase the intensity.
- Take a big step out to one side with 1 foot and place it firmly on the ground.
- Then begin to lower your hips to the side that you just stepped out to.
- Make sure you bring your hips towards the floor in a squatting movement and not just leaning out to the side. Then step back up into the starting position and repeat on the other side.
- Start off with your back leaning up against the wall with your feet hip-width apart and farther out in front of your body.
- Slowly slide your body down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Make sure your heals are underneath your knees throughout the wall squat hold. Hold this until your finish and then you can slide back up to the standing position.
- Take a big wide stance with your feet about 6 to 10 inches outside your hips. Point your toes out so they’re about 35 to 45° angle away from your body. You can hold a pair of dumbbells in front of you to increase the intensity of the movement.
- Then slowly lower your hips towards the ground in a squatting movement until your thighs are about parallel to the floor.
- Make sure you keep your chest up throughout the exercise and don’t round your back or lean forward. Then stand back up into the starting position and repeat.
1-Legged Hip Bridges
You can also do Hamstring Curls on an exercise ball too…
- Start off laying on your back with your arms out to your side and your palms up. Lift one leg up off the floor so it’s pointing towards the ceiling.
- Then with your bottom knee bent point your toes up towards the sky. Then begin to lift your hips up and down off the ground towards the ceiling.
- Slightly pause when you reach the top and hold for a quick second before slowly returning back to the ground.
- Try not to let your hips rest on the ground in between repetitions. Make sure you complete this on both sides.
- Find a box that’s about knee height and place 1 foot firmly on top of it.
- Then with the foot on top of the box propel yourself up.
- When you reach the top of the jump switch legs at the top so your other foot is now on the box as you come back down towards the ground. Then repeat.
- Start off in the standing position with your feet hip-width apart.
- Then explosively jump out to one side landing on the same foot you jumping out towards.
- Allow your inner leg to twist around your other leg and use that momentum to propel yourself back out to the other side.
- Keep jumping outside to the side just like this throughout the exercise.
- You can also do Curtsy Lunges if you don’t have access to a low box like this.
- Find a box that is about the same height as your shins and place it a couple of feet behind you.
- Then put 1 foot back behind your body and place it on top of the box. Make sure you keep your chest up throughout this movement and try not to lean forward by bending your back.
- Then slowly begin to lower that back knee towards the floor. Once the back knee almost reaches the floor raise yourself back up to the starting position.
- Make sure you repeat on both sides and you can also hold a pair of dumbbells to increase the intensity.
- This is a fun one! Start in the standing position with your feet hip-width apart.
- Squat down towards the floor. With your legs holding the squatting position begin to making a jumping jack movement.
- Be sure to keep your knees bent throughout the exercise. Don’t do it if you have knee pain.
Leg Workouts To Get Rid of Thigh Fat
Here are a couple of leg workouts you can use as an exercise regime to tone up your thighs. You’ll boost your heart rate with interval training while gaining leg muscle to tighten up your thighs.
You’ll have a higher calorie burn by adding in this leg workout in your weight loss program. By mixing up these leg exercises you can challenge more than one muscle group in your thighs.
A1. Lunges 3×12
A2. Squats 3×15
B1. Step-Ups 3×16
B2. Sumo Squats 3×12
C1. Step-up Hops 3×16
C2. 1-Legged Hip Bridges 3×10/side
A1. Skater Plyos 3×16
A2. Bulgarian Lunges 3×8/side
B1. Side Lunges 3×10
B2. Smurf Jacks 3×20
B3. Wall Squats 3×20-30 sec.
C1. Hill Sprints x5
Measuring Your Thigh Fat
Measuring your thighs will give you a better picture of your progress than stepping on a scale. That’s because as your build your leg muscles you’ll replace the burned fat with some muscle. This can throw off the scale and it’ll deceive you into thinking you’re not getting results.
To properly gauge your progress in losing your thigh fat make sure you use a Body Measuring Tape. To do this just wrap the measuring tape around the middle part of your thigh to get a reading. I like to measure in centimeters as it gives you a better overall picture of your progress than inches.
Make sure you’re standing still with your feet hip-width apart throughout the measuring. Also, make sure you don’t flex your leg while measuring. Be sure to write down your measurements so you can track your progress towards reducing the size of your thighs.
How do I tone my inner thighs?
If you’re looking to tone your inner thigh area then you’re going to have to do exercises that specifically target them. The inner thigh can be even more stubborn for some women than the entire thigh area. The inner thigh doesn’t get as much exercise as the rest of the thigh area. This makes it more likely to hold flabby fat in your inner thigh area.
Can running get rid of thigh fat?
Yes, running over time will help to lose your thigh fat but it won’t work to tighten and tone them. Losing weight from running can result in your thighs becoming more dimply, saggy, and mushy. That’s because you’re also losing muscle that is needed to tone and tighten your thighs. Make sure you combine your running with the above strength exercises to better slim down and tone your leg fat away.
The Last Word
To get rid of your thigh fat for good start using the exercises and workout above. Make sure you’re also adding in a proper diet otherwise it’ll be nearly impossible to lose the stubborn fat on your thighs.
Unfortunately, if you’re genetically “pear-shaped” then your body will want to hold onto your fat reserves in your legs and hips. You may lose weight throughout your body but your thigh fat can be stubbornly the last to go. I know it can be discouraging to lose weight but not make much progress on getting rid of your thigh fat.
Just make sure you keep following the strategies above and it’ll only be a matter of time before you finally get rid of your thigh fat.
The storing of fat on your thighs is genetic and was used for purposes of survival for our caveman ancestors. But nowadays having thigh fat is as unwanted as having belly fat.
This doesn’t mean you’re stuck with your leg fat forever. You just have to lower fat throughout your entire body and then do the best exercises to tighten and tone them up. Now that you discovered how to lose thigh fat it’s time to start putting in the work so you can get the results you want quickly.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.