Everyone is predisposed to carry body fat a little differently. Some of us are pear-shaped, while others may be more top-heavy or have an athletic build.
No matter what your body type is, if you want to lose thigh fat, you have to know something upfront: spot-reducing doesn’t work. You can’t spot-reduce body fat because you store fat cells all over your body—where your fat cells happen to be concentrated is often a genetic predisposition.
You need to lose weight all over by making dietary and lifestyle changes, and then tone up your thighs with targeted exercises. If you take our comprehensive approach, you’ll lose pounds all over AND tone your thighs to make them tighter and stronger.
Here are 10 tips to help you lose thigh fat:
- Increase Your Cardio
- Do Thigh-Toning Workouts
- Strength Train To Boost Your Metabolism
- Reduce Calorie Intake
- Eat More Fiber + Protein
- Consume Less Sodium
- Drink Lots of Water
- Limit Alcohol Intake
- Get Plenty of Sleep
- Reduce Stress
1. Increase Your Cardio
Heart-pumping cardio is a great way to up your calorie burn, and many forms of cardiovascular exercise also focus on toning the legs simultaneously: think running, cycling, or jumping rope.
If you’re only doing a few light cardio workouts per week, increase that number to burn more calories. The CDC recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of heart-pumping cardiovascular exercise per week. You should also be mixing up your workouts by incorporating High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which helps burn fat fast and has you doing calorie-torching plyometrics.
Note: While you’re on your cardio kick, incorporate more inclines to really target your thighs. If you walk on a treadmill, ramp up the incline manually. If you walk or jog outside, find a trail with some hills. You’ll immediately start to feel the burn in your inner thighs and glutes, because the incline targets your thighs and buns more than walking on a flat surface.
2. Do Thigh-Toning Exercises
Your thigh muscles are made up of your quadriceps, hamstrings, abductors and adductors (inner and outer thighs). To sculpt and tone these muscles, you have to perform exercises that incorporate different angles, moving in different directions.
The exercises shown below target both the inner and outer thighs by using different ranges of motion. Aim to perform 8-10 reps of these exercises 3 times per week, in addition to your other workouts. You’ll be feeling the burn and loving your slimmed, toned thighs!
Also called curtsy lunges, cross-behind lunges are a great lunge variation to specifically target the inner thighs. Click here to learn how to perform cross-behind lunges.
Stability Ball Single Leg Lift and Lower
Not only will this move target the thighs and hamstrings, but it also requires great core stabilization. Click here to learn how to perform a stability ball single leg lift and lower.
This fun squat variation targets the inner thighs more intensely than a regular squat. Click here to learn how to perform a plié squat, or check out this quick video below.
Resistance Band Outer Thigh Press
With the help of a resistance band, this move targets the tricky-to-tone outer thighs, or abdutors. Click here to learn how to perform a resistance band outer thigh press.
Not only does this exercise get your heart pumping because it’s a plyometric (jumping movement), but it also specifically targets the outer thighs. Click here to learn how to perform skaters.
3. Strength Train To Boost Your Metabolism
Cardio and thigh exercises aren’t the only component to leg fat loss—you need total body strength training, too! The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories your body burns at rest.
The myth that lifting weights is going to make a woman “bulk up” isn’t really true. When you strength train, you not only work your muscles, but you rev your metabolism.
Aim to incorporate at least two strength training sessions into your week—in addition to your cardio—for weight loss. Strength train your whole body—not just your legs—to burn fat all over. Try one of our strength training classes to get started!
4. Reduce Calorie Intake
Plain and simple, excess calories end up on your body as excess fat. If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. In other words, you need a calorie deficit. Something as simple as being aware of your portion sizes can make a difference.
What you eat matters too. Lots of preservatives, chemicals and added sugars cause inflammation and weight gain. Choose nutritious, whole foods—and cut back on unhealthy fats, refined sugars, and processed foods.
A good tip to use when starting a weight loss journey is to fill half of your plate with veggies—and the remaining parts with lean protein (salmon, chicken) and some healthy carbs (quinoa, brown rice.)
Don’t think that eating the right foods has to be boring. Try our 28-Day Veggie Challenge to start filling up on nutritious, antioxidant-rich foods that help you lose weight and keep you healthy.
5. Eat More Fiber and Protein
In order to lose weight, including from your thighs, you should consume an adequate amount of fiber and protein.
Fiber has a wide range of benefits, including aiding weight loss. Some types of fiber slow the absorption of nutrients, allowing you to feel full longer, therefore consuming less calories throughout the day.
Men need between 30 and 38 grams of fiber per day, and women need between 21 and 25 grams per day.
Some good sources of fiber include
- Fruits (Bananas, apples, oranges)
- Vegetables (cruciferous, peas, sweet potatoes)
- Whole grains (quinoa, whole wheat pasta)
- Beans and lentils
Protein is made up of amino acids and helps build our muscles, among other parts of our body. However, it’s where you are getting your protein that matters most.
Choose good sources of animal protein, like:
- Low-fat dairy
You can also get ample amounts of protein from dark, leafy green vegetables and other sources, including:
- Whole grains
6. Consume Less Sodium
Sodium is an electrolyte that plays a key role in muscle and nerve function. However, too much sodium can lead to bloating and water retention in many individuals, as well as an increased risk of heart disease.
If you’re getting more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, it may be time to reduce your sodium intake. Try swapping out pre-packaged snacks – which are often packed with sodium – with homemade trail mix or kale chips.
7. Drink Lots of Water
Water has plenty of benefits, several of which involve maintaining a healthy weight, like improving energy and reducing hunger.
And consider this: in a living, moving body, skeletal muscle is more than 70 percent water. In order to put healthy muscle on your body, water is a necessity.
On average, you should be drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. If you exercise regularly, add another glass or two to that.
8. Limit Alcohol Intake
That’s right—eliminate alcohol as much as possible while trying to lose fat. Alcohol contributes to weight gain in several ways: it stops your body from burning fat, it’s high in calories, it can make you feel hungry, and it can lead to poor food choices.
Might we also mention that the mixers that commonly accompany it – soda, juice – only add more unhealthy, refined sugars.
9. Get Plenty of Sleep
You may not think of sleep as being connected to your diet, but research can prove it: study participants who were put on a sleep-deprived diet experienced a 55% reduction in fat loss compared to their well-rested counterparts.
Lack of sleep can also change your fat cells by disrupting your body’s ability to properly use insulin. Excess insulin can cause your body to store fat in the wrong places, which can cause weight gain and even diabetes.
Adults should regularly get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep to stay healthy, alert and energized.
10. Reduce Stress
Prolonged stress can increase your body’s cortisol levels. High levels of cortisol cause your body to store more visceral fat, which is stored in your abdominal cavity. Not only that, but when you’re constantly flooding your body with cortisol, your appetite can increase and your desire for fatty foods may increase as well.
Managing stress can help not only with a slimmer body, but also help prevent disease and inflammation. To keep tension at bay, try:
- Yoga + meditation
- Quiet, self-care time
Remember: Thigh-Toning Takes Time
Losing weight and slimming down your legs doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the result of a lot of hard work and motivation.
Our ten tips will help you make the exercise, dietary and lifestyle changes necessary to lose weight all over and tone your thighs.
Harshita on March 20, 2018 at 12:02 AM
I am a 25 years old woman. I have arthritis. Does these exercise good for me?
Chris Freytag on March 21, 2018 at 4:09 PM
Hi Harshita - it's hard to say without knowing much about your condition. You might find this article to be helpful however: https://gethealthyu.com/prevent-joint-pain-during-exercise/
Ayu on November 18, 2017 at 2:06 PM
thanks for sharing the information, I am indeed looking for this discussion and I think find the answer in this article. Nice website :)
Sahantha on October 10, 2017 at 5:28 AM
For me, squats worked in getting rid of the fat around my thigh region. I used to do a minimum of 50 reps every day along with 20 minutes of HIIT running on treadmill.