Thighs -- they have the potential to be your best asset or your worst. If you have extra fat deposits along your outer thighs, chances are you believe you fall into the latter category. If you're looking to lighten the load and swap those saddle bags for a set of lean, toned thighs, embark on a body-changing journey that combines healthy eating habits with regular cardio and strength training exercises.
Lose the Fat
Elevate your heart rate on a regular basis. Walking, jogging, elliptical training, rowing, swimming, kick boxing and Zumba are all appropriate ways to fulfill your cardio quota. Opt for moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes five days per week, high-intensity exercise for at least 20 minutes three days per week, or a combination of the two. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that high-intensity exercise is best for improving body composition.
Increase your muscle mass with strength training exercises on three nonconsecutive days per week. Exercises that target the major muscles in your body such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, shoulder presses and bench presses will make your workouts effective and efficient. Aim for two to three sets of eight to 12 reps of each exercise with weights heavy enough that you cannot complete more than 12 reps. Circuit training can be beneficial, too, and involves one set each of a series of exercises with minimal rest in between sets, followed repetitions of the circuit.
Avoid high-fat or processed foods. Reach instead for fresh whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, low-fat dairy, eggs and lean cuts of meat.
Keep track of your calorie intake. Eating too much will add to your fat deposits -- eating too little can put your body into starvation mode and have the same effects. A pound of body fat contains 3500 calories and to lose that pound requires decreasing calorie intake or increasing calorie burn a total of 3500 calories. Cardio sessions can burn anywhere from a few hundred to several hundred calories per session.
Tone the Muscle
Lie on your right side with your hips and legs stacked and your right elbow supporting your upper body. Stabilize your hips and torso and lift your hips off the floor while simultaneously lifting your left leg away from your body. Slowly lower your hips back to the floor and your leg back to your body. Repeat on your left side. Another version of the side leg - without the "bridge" - raise involves keeping hips on the floor and raising the upper leg as high as possible - as near as possible to vertical for each repetition.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, back straight, pelvis neutral and abdomen tight. Take a large step to the right and slowly lunge onto your right leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor and your knee is above but not beyond your ankle. Press through your heel to return to the starting position. Repeat the side lunge to your left. You can also use the hip abductor machine in the gym, in which you are seated and you move your thighs away from your body, against resistance.
Attach the cable from a low-pulley machine to your left ankle and stand with your right side facing the machine. Stabilize your torso then lift your left leg up and out to the side. Pause at the top of the movement before lowering back to the starting position. Repeat with your right leg.
Adding muscle mass will increase your metabolic rate making it easier to lose weight and keep it off. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that moderately active men age 19 to 25 consume 2,800 calories and men 26 to 45 years consume 2,600 calories per day. Moderately active women age 19 to 25 should eat 2,200 calories while women age 26 to 45 consume 2,000 calories per day. Complete two to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions for each outer-thigh-targeting exercise.
Consult your health care provider before beginning a new exercise or weight loss program.
- American College of Sports Medicine: High-Intensity Exercise Best for Improving Body Composition
- American Council on Exercise: Strength Training 101
- USDA.gov: Estimated Calorie Needs per Day by A ge, G ender, and Physical Activity L evel
- ExRx.net: Side Bridge Hip Abduction
- American Council on Exercise: Side Lunge
- ExRx.net: Cable Hip Abduction