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. And while we think voluptuous thighs and hips are beautiful, we also know that sometimes your goal is to slim down in certain areas. You may wonder how to lose leg fat or how to reduce thigh fat, in particular. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation about how to do this. If you want to lose thigh fat, you have to know something upfront: spot-reducing doesn’t work. In other words, you can’t just do a bunch of inner thigh exercises and expect that alone to reduce thigh fat. You need to lose weight all over, making dietary and lifestyle changes and then tone up those slimmer 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. How does that sound? Here’s how to lose thigh fat the right way.
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But FIRST! Why Spot-Reducing Fat Doesn’t Work
Before we get into how to lose thigh fat, let’s take a moment to discuss why spot-reducing fat doesn’t work. If you’ve ever wondered how to lose leg fat or how to get rid of thigh fat, listen up. Plain and simple, 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. If your thighs are covered in a little extra fat, you need to lose weight all over and THEN tone that specific area. You can’t spot-reduce, but you can spot-tone. Does that make sense?
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Think about it: you can tone your thighs all you want, but if they’re still covered with a little extra fat, those toned muscles will stay hidden beneath your fat. So losing thigh fat begins by losing weight. Then, we’ll get into the specific exercises that can help you firm up and tone those slimmer thighs.
1. Increase Your Cardio
If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. Simple as that. 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, which helps burn fat fast and has you doing calorie-torching plyometrics, in addition to strength training, which will get into in a little bit for its metabolism-boosting benefits!
The 7 Best Fat Burning Leg Exercises
Ok, it’s time to jump in and get to these 7 leg exercises.
Bear in mind that you shouldn’t do all 7 of them in one workout but rather pick and choose 2-3 of them for any given lower body workout.
For best strength and fat loss results, choose a weight that will only allow you to complete 6-8 reps with excellent form and complete 2-3 sets for each one.
Without a doubt, squats are the most fundamental lower body exercise.
If you’re into sports, squats are a must since they mimic the exact movement patterns of jumping and sprinting. The more you can squat, the more powerful of an athlete you will be.
Squats are also hugely beneficial for burning fat since they recruit ALL of your lower body (and core) muscles. Need I say more?
Plus, if you want to firm up your thighs and get buns of steel then you can put away the Cindy Crawford workouts and start doing more squats – with HEAVY WEIGHTS and good form. Nothing will get you stronger, firmer, and slimmer than squats… nothing!
Actually, this exercise might…
2. Front Squats (or Kettlebell Goblet Squats)
This is probably my favourite lower body and CORE exercise. I even prefer front squats to traditional back squats because the load is more favourably on the front of your shoulders, which lowers the stress on your low back.
Front squats are probably the most challenging core exercise you will ever attempt, especially if using a suitable heavy weight. The abdominal/core engagement that is required to maintain a neutral and strong torso during this exercise is massive.
Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think. Better yet, do a few ab crunches and see how that feels. Then, do a few heavy front squats and tell me your core isn’t working 1000x harder!
Remember, the more muscle working, the more calories you burn!
3. Forward-Backward Lunges
Everyone’s seen the traditional lunge, right?
Well, in my workouts, I kick things up a notch (or 2 or 3) by doing forward-backward lunges.
This is essentially a lunge where you step backward, drop down into your lunge, and then push forward into a forward lunge. Then push backwards into a reverse lunge, and repeat.
Sounds a little confusing, I know.
But this exercise, when done properly (and without even using any weight), could very well be the MOST challenging leg exercise you ever attempt. You’ll know what I mean within a few seconds as your legs begin to catch fire faster than a Southern Californian forest.
What an amazing exercise.
Once again, if you want glutes of steel, a solid lower back, and a fit body, then deadlifts are a must. And, because they recruit ALL of your lower body muscles, you’ll also be huffing and puffing after just a few reps – assuming you’re using a challenging weight.
And huffing and puffing is a good sign that your body is churning through calories!
5. Glute-Ham Raises
A lot of people sit all day and as a result have weak and tight hamstrings. This can eventually lead to lower back problems.
One of the best ways to avoid weak/tight hamstrings is to strengthen them using this exercise. I would have to say that the glute-ham raises will make you realize exactly how weak or strong your hamstrings really are.
Going through the motion, you’ll feel as if your “hammies” are about to pop out of your skin. But as you get stronger, you’ll be amazed at how much easier these get.
You’ll also be amazed at how this incredible leg exercise will tighten up your backside.
Alongside deadlifts and the next exercise, this is one exercise I would definitely add to your leg strengthening and fat burning arsenal.
6. Elevated Hip Thrusters
If glute-ham raises are a bit too advanced for you, then elevated hip thrusters will be perfect.
Yet another amazing leg exercise that targets the entire backside of your body, which means stronger and firmer glutes, hamstrings, and low back muscles. Yes, yes, and yes!
The coolest part is that you can even do this exercise between your sofa and coffee table – at least that’s what I do when I get bored of sitting on the couch.
I was reminded of just how good step-ups are this morning as I awoke to a set of sore and stiff legs. That’s because last night I did just 2 sets of heavy step-ups. Man, are my legs feeling it today!
Step-ups are like doing 1-leg squats. In fact, many Eastern bloc powerlifters have moved away from exclusively doing back squats to doing more step-ups because of how beneficial they are for developing single leg strength.
Plus, doing a step-up targets your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. I think I’m beginning to sound like a broken record.
Are you starting to get the point?
What Makes an Exercise Great at Burning Fat?
In case you’re wondering why these lower body exercises are effective at burning fat, it’s because they involve your body’s biggest muscles.
And the more muscle you recruit in any given movement…
The more oxygen those muscles require and the more calories they consume (aka. “burn”).
That’s why using the leg exercises I’ve described above will not only will help sculpt strong legs, they will also get your legs (and the rest of your body) more lean and toned!
If you want more fun exercises to strengthen your legs, check out this post.
Want to Burn More Fat?
Check out my new strength and interval cardio combo workout. It’s fun and will definitely ramp up your fat burning.
This Fat Blaster workout includes an instructional video, workout tracker, and follow-along audio. It’s a $29 value – and it’s yours for FREE!
Simply click the banner now to download the workout.
And if you’re looking for another way to burn fat, you’ll want to check out the benefits of fasting one day a week. This allows your body to use fat as your energy source!
How Hormones Factor In
Two of the major hormones that affect your body’s setpoint are leptin and ghrelin. Leptin has been coined the “starvation” hormone because it plummets when you restrict your calorie intake or starve yourself. Produced in fat cells, leptin signals when the body has had enough to eat or is full, so it plays a big role in your satiety. When leptin levels decrease, your brain tells your body that it needs more food than it really does.
Ghrelin, on the other hand, increases your appetite and makes you feel hungry. When you starve yourself, your ghrelin levels rise. In concert with the decrease in leptin levels, this further confirms with your brain that your body isn’t full and tells you on a hormonal level that you need to eat more food and calories. Ghrelin is made in the stomach, so it’s directly affected by the foods you eat.
Several factors influence the rise and fall of these two hormones:
- How much you eat
- When you eat
- Your sleep cycles
- How much light you take in
- How much you exercise
- The amount of stress in your life
While you can try to control most of these factors, influencing your hormonal balance with what you eat is one of the simplest ways to change your setpoint quickly. This is because hormones are largely controlled by calorie quality. By feeding your body nutrient-dense foods, you avoid starvation mode. You change your hormones so they can change you.
The Best Way to Lose Thigh Fat (and All Fat) is Through Calorie Quality
The quality of calories is controlled by four factors: satiety, aggression, nutrition, and efficiency. These four factors work together to make the needed changes in your body so your setpoint can change.
- Satiety: How quickly your calories fill you up and make you feel satisfied
- Aggression: How aggressively your calories impact your hormones
- Nutrition: how many vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids and other nutrients your calories provide
- Efficiency: How easily those calories are converted into body fat
These four factors make up the basis of the SANE solution. They are the best way to lose thigh fat and all of your extra body fat. Understanding how water, fiber, and protein affect those four factors, hormones and thus your body’s setpoint is crucial to seeing how the four factors work. Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…
How to Get Enough Water
That’s a huge difference but drinking that much water might seem overwhelming. In the SANE eating plan, you’ll get a lot of your water from the foods you eat. By increasing the amounts of non-starchy vegetables, nutrient-dense protein, whole food fats and low-fructose fruits you’ll automatically get more water and be able to get the most benefits from the food you eat. You’ll feel satisfied and full quicker. Your body will be able to use the nutrients better. And you’ll keep burning fat longer, all because of the higher water content.
How to Get Enough Fiber
All of the foods in the SANE solution are naturally higher in soluble fiber and can help you lose thigh fat. You’ll have lots of choices from all of the food groups. Some of the best examples are:
- Brussels sprouts, mixed greens, asparagus and broccoli from the non-starchy vegetable group
- Peas from the nutrient-dense protein category
- Chia seeds, flax seeds, cocoa and avocado from the whole-food fats group
- Goji berry, raspberries, and blueberries from low-fructose fruits
How to Get Enough Protein
The SANE solution offers great choices for nutrient-dense proteins. Some of the foods you’ll get to enjoy include:
- Sea bass and salmon
- Eggs and cottage cheese
- Grass-fed beef and lamb
Next Step: Best Way to Lose Thigh Fat with SANE
Ready to finally break free from the yo-yo dieting rollercoaster by balancing your hormones and lowering your body’s setpoint weight?
Want to know the exact foods and serving sizes that are scientifically proven by over 1,300 peer-reviewed research studies to boost metabolism, burn fat and enjoy virtually effortless weight loss like a naturally thin person?
Download the free SANE metabolism boosting food list, cheat sheet and “Eat More, Burn More” weight loss program by clicking here. Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…
Where Does Fat Disappear First?
Do you find when you lose fat it disappears from the places you want to stay big?
Maybe it stubbornly holds on to the places you really want to slim down.
Some of the books we’ve read tried to sell us “spot reduction”. It’s a myth. We cannot choose to burn the fat on our waist over that in our face.
There Are 2 Kinds of Fat
We have adipose tissue all over the body.
This tissue is made of adipocytes (fat cells) whose sole job is to store energy in the form of fat. Body fat distribution differs from person to person.
There are generally two types of fat storage:
- visceral (surrounding organs).
- subcutaneous (beneath the skin – about 80% of all body fat is this type (src)).
Does eating fat make you fat? We get to the bottom of that myth here.
Where Do We Gain Fat?
- Women – around the buttocks and thighs (gluteofemoral): “pear-shaped”.
- Men – around the abdomen: “apple-shaped”.
These are the predominant patterns – but both ‘apple’ and ‘pear’ shaped distribution can be found in either gender.
|Knee||Fat often builds up on the inside region of the knees in women.|
|Upper Arm||Common in women, fat build up can occur in the middle to upper area of the upper arm – typically covering the tricep area. Some women elect to have arm liposuction procedure to remove fat from this area without the marks caused by surgery.|
|Abdomen||Fat buildup around the navel area is common in both men and women. It is also one of the few fat deposits that are also found in slim women.|
|Inner Thigh||Fat storage between the thighs is common in women – but also occurs with men. It is more noticeable in women due to the width of the pelvis that in turn influences the position of the thigh (femur).|
|Outer Thigh||Sometimes called “Riding Breeches” – this area is the most likely place for the pitted or ‘quilted’ appearance of cellulite. This fat concentration also blends with fat tissue on the inner thigh and the buttocks.|
|Buttocks||Without fat here – sitting would be quite uncomfortable. Fat is held in place by the gluteal fold. If significant fat is lost from the buttock, only appropriate training can prevent the buttock from sagging down against the thigh.|
|Lower Back||This fat concentration often merges with the buttock area.|
|Chest||Breast tissue comprises the mammary gland (one’s ‘endowment’) surrounded by fat. Men also have atrophied glands and fat in this area. Both sexes gain fat in this area. In men this can sometimes be mistaken for gynecomastia – a condition that includes not only fat build up, but growth in gland tissue.|
Ethnic VariationThere is considerable research showing that fat distribution varies between ethnic groups.
- Asian adults are more prone to visceral and central obesity than Europeans.
- Mediterranean women are prone to fat gain in the outer thighs.
Cellulite is Different
This is further compounded by cellulite. With cellulite tissue, fatty acids are contained in a net of fibrous connective tissue.
As fat loss occurs the net becomes compressed – making it difficult for the blood supply to readily remove the fat from these stubborn areas.
Why Do I Lose Weight But Look the Same?
- Obese men tend to lose more visceral (internal) fat while obese women lose more subcutaneous fat (src).
- Exercise seems to result in more subcutaneous fat loss.
- Diet alone results in more visceral fat loss (and less surface fat loss) (src).
This explains how you can lose weight – but not necessarily have any radical change in appearance.