Do Lunges & Squats Make Your Thighs Smaller?

Lunges and squats offer numerous benefits, but they won't help you target specific areas on your body to lose weight. These exercises can actually increase the size of your thighs if they're done at a high enough volume. To make your thighs smaller, you instead want to incorporate exercise that burns calories and helps you reduce your body fat.

Lunges and squats build strength and tone thigh muscles. (Image: Dirima/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

Although lunges and squats tone and define your thigh muscles, they won't make them smaller. In fact, you might notice your thighs getting bigger from exercise.

Lunges and Squats

Lunges and squats are both compound exercises that work your glutes, quadriceps and calves. They're similar, except that squats work the same muscles in both legs simultaneously, while lunges work the front leg differently from the back leg.

Squats are performed by setting your feet shoulder- to hip-width apart and lowering toward the floor by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. The lunge, however, is completed by getting into a staggered stance with one foot in front of the other and then bending your lead knee to lower your back knee toward the floor.

Impact on Thigh Size

If you're consistently including exercises such as lunges and squats in your workout routine, you might actually notice your thighs getting bigger from exercise. Strength training increases the size of muscle — particularly if you perform these exercises with added weight such as dumbbells or a barbell.

To make your thighs smaller, you've got to either lower excess fat located in your legs or have your muscles atrophy, which means the muscles get smaller. Lunges and squats target the muscle tissue you have in your glutes, quads and calves, but they don't impact any fat tissue in the area.

According to the American Council on Exercise, it's not possible to spot reduce or lose fat specifically in your thighs. Strength-training exercises like lunges and squats prevent the muscles in your thighs from atrophying and can increase the size of your thighs. Therefore, they're not an effective way to make your thighs smaller.

Benefits of Lunges and Squats

While lunges and squats won't make your thighs smaller, they are effective for building strength and size in your lower-body muscles. An increase in glute, quad and calf strength will allow you to walk up hills, climb stairs and squat down with more ease.

By building lean tissue, you increase your metabolic rate and burn more calories throughout the day. In turn, this can help with overall fat loss throughout your body.

Decreasing Thigh Size

To effectively decrease the size of your thighs, make efforts to lower your overall body-fat percentage. To do so, you've got to burn more calories than you consume. In order to lose 1 pound of fat, you must burn 3,500 calories or create a deficit by eating less. Increase the calories you burn by consistently incorporating cardiovascular activities, like jogging and swimming, into your regimen.

Decrease the number of calories you take in by limiting high-calorie foods. Instead, consume primarily fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. While this won't target your thighs, as you lose overall fat, you'll see differences everywhere, including your legs.

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