No magical pill, food or single exercise will earn you a flat stomach and thinner thighs. These enviable body parts come from good, old-fashioned hard work at the gym and a clean, portion-controlled diet. Of course, certain exercise techniques and tweaks to your eating plan can help you achieve these physique goals faster.
Burn It Off
Cardiovascular activity burns calories, which helps you create a caloric deficit to lose pounds. Without losing extra fat covering up your stomach and thigh muscles, you'll never get the physique that you seek. A casual stroll or gentle bike ride is nice, and it's certainly more healthful than sitting on the couch; if you want results, however, you must kick up the intensity.
You've probably heard of high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, and it's your ticket to effective fat loss. It can be as easy as alternating short bouts of sprinting with easy jogging or walking for a 30- to 40-minute session. Alternatively, put together a cardio interval circuit that taxes the muscles of your thighs and strengthens the muscles of your abs. Working out with HIIT stimulates your body's fat-burning mechanisms in ways that steady-state training just can't.
While no exercise can cause you to lose fat from a specific area — fat is lost and gained throughout the body according to hormones and genetics — you can tone specific muscles so they look more defined once you do drop weight.
A Stomach and Thigh HIIT Circuit
When completing this circuit, the even-numbered exercises are low- to moderate-intensity moves while the odd-numbered exercises are to be done at an all-out effort.
Start with a warm up, such as stepping up and down on a riser, for 3 to 5 minutes and end with a 3- to 5-minute cool down. Do a minute of the following exercises in quick succession. Perform two total circuits for about 20 minutes of work.
The plyometric moves, such as the burpees and jump squats, raise your heart rate so you burn calories, as well as strengthen and develop the muscles of your thighs.
Lifting weights helps you build muscle, which boosts your metabolism. You definitely want to do moves that target your thighs and midsection, but 1980s-style leg lifts and sit-ups aren't your go-to option.
Join the big boys in the gym and heave some iron. For your thighs, squats, hip hinges, lunges and step-ups build muscle. Don't worry about bulking up, as you'd have to commit to almost daily sessions and a high-calorie diet to gain muscle. Women, especially, don't usually have the hormonal profile for extraordinary muscle gain.
Aim for about two total-body strength-building sessions per week — three, if you have time — and do at least one set of eight to 12 repetitions of the chosen exercises. Use heavy weights that make you fatigue by the last rep or two. Wait at least 48 hours between strength workouts to allow for recovery. Don't leave your upper body out of strength training, either — the more muscle you create, the better for weight loss.
Ab-specific moves won't give you a flat stomach. You can do planks and anti-rotation exercises to build stability and strength, but diet and overall fat loss plays a bigger role in creating a flat belly.
In the long term, losing weight will help slim your thighs and flatten your belly. Reduce calories about 500 below what you burn daily to lose 1 pound per week. Make healthy choices most of the time, so that your diet mainly consists of lean proteins, fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains.
Follow these extra tips to make your whole foods, reduced calorie diet maximize weight loss without extraordinary hunger:
- Have protein with every meal: Protein helps you feel more satisfied because it takes longer to digest. Protein also supports muscle growth. Aim for 10 grams at snacks and 20 to 30 grams at meals.
- Load up on fiber-rich foods: Fiber assists digestion, slowing foods' transit through your tract and keeping you full for hours after the meal. Watery vegetables, such as lettuce and peppers, and whole grains contain the fiber you need. Aim for 25 to 30 grams per day.
- Hold off on the drinks: Soda, fancy coffee, alcohol, juice, sports drinks and sweet tea all have lots of extra calories, mostly from sugar. Cut these out to slim your thighs and belly without feeling deprived.
- Drink lots of water: Keep yourself fully hydrated to prevent bloating due to dehydration. Hydration also helps you feel energized for workouts and keeps you regular.