Many women call their thighs a trouble spot. If you're among this number, you aren't doomed to big legs forever. It's true that large thighs don't pose the same health risks as excess belly fat, but being overweight does increase the chances that you'll develop diabetes, cancer or heart disease. Combining cardio with strength training is an ideal way to slim down your thighs and protect your health. At the same time, ditch your unhealthy eating habits to maximize your progress.
You can't target your thighs with cardio exercise, but it does help you burn fat all over your body. This is because cardio elevates your heart rate and burns calories, helping you create the deficit necessary to lose unwanted pounds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women get at least 150 minutes of cardio each week, though doubling that is more beneficial for weight loss, including that in your thighs. Choose cardio that works your thigh muscles for even more results. Walking, jogging, biking, swimming, dancing and basketball are good options.
Using your own body weight is an ideal way to fit in some thigh exercises. Use them to exercise at home or at the office when you have time, say while you're on your lunch break or while you wait for dinner to cook. Include at least 12 repetitions of each thigh exercise two or three times each week. Squats are an easy choice. To do one, stand with your feet about hip-width apart, arms at your sides. Slowly lower your body as if sitting into a chair. Stop when your knees reach a 90-degree angle and hold the squat for a second or two. Return to the starting position to finish one repetition. Lunge forward and to the side as well to work both the outside and inside of your thighs.
You can't use your legs to lift a barbell or a set of dumbbells, but holding weights while you do exercises increases your total body weight, which makes your thighs work harder, thereby increasing the benefits. Hold weights as you squat and lunge to increase the activation in your thighs. You can also hold dumbbells as you do stepping exercises to make them more challenging to the muscles in your upper legs. Another good exercise for working your thighs is the deadlift. To do one, place a barbell at your feet. Squat down and grasp the bar with your palms facing inward and stand back up. Return the barbell to the ground to finish one deadlift.
If you prefer to get a workout at the gym, several of the weight machines are ideal for working your thighs. The leg press machine is a good choice. Load your desired pound load, sit on the machine's bench with your feet on the plate and your hands holding the handles. Press the plate with your feet until your legs are straight, then return to the starting point to finish one leg press.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.