Toned thighs and hips can make your legs look longer and your body slimmer. But the hips, thighs and even buttocks are a trouble spot for most women, according to the American Council on Exercise. While spot reduction is impossible, a balanced workout with cardiovascular and resistance-training exercises that build muscle in the lower body will help make your thighs and legs look skinnier.
Tone Your Thighs and Legs
Trim down your entire body. Despite claims by popular gadgets like the ThighMaster, spot reduction is not possible. The University of Massachusetts debunked in the 1980s the claim that doing exercises in one area of the body can reduce fat in that specific area, ACE reports. Instead, focus on reducing fat throughout your body. Cutting 500 calories a day through diet and exercise will allow your body to trim down slowly and will reduce fat that has collected around your legs and thighs.
Add squats to your workout. Squats work your entire body, but are particularly beneficial in toning the muscles in the legs, hips and thighs. Beginners can perform this exercise safely and effectively by using a stability ball. ACE recommends performing this exercise by placing a stability ball, available at most gyms and sporting-goods stores, against the wall. Place your back against the ball and walk your feet out a comfortable distance. Lower yourself down by rolling the ball until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Add three sets of 12 to your resistance training for the best results.
Work your hamstrings by doing deadlifts. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your toes forward, holding dumbbells in your hands. Bend down as if you were going to touch your toes, keeping your back completely flat. Look forward or up and keep the weights parallel to your legs. You will feel your hamstrings stretch as you lower. Go down only as far as is comfortable; do not over-stretch. Tighten your core muscles and lift by hinging at the hips and returning to a standing position. This exercise is great for toning the backs of your legs — but it can be dangerous if performed incorrectly, so consult a fitness professional to ensure proper form.
Burn off excess fat by running or walking. The secret to losing fat, even around the thighs, is to expend more calories than you are eating. Experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recommend cutting 500 calories daily by eating 250 fewer calories and burning 250 calories through exercise. Do this for seven days and you will have cut 3,500 calories, enough to lose 1 pound of fat. You can burn 250 calories by running approximately 2.5 miles.