Everyone has a problem area on their body. If your thighs are causing you heartache you're probably looking for the magic thigh reduction machine or routine that will finally bring your upper legs in line with the rest of your body. There's a good number of weight machines at the gym that target your legs, but there's not just one that will help you get your thighs under control.
The Cardio Key
So here's the awful truth: There is no such thing as "spot reduction." You can incorporate every thigh exercise known to mankind into your workout and it won't help you to reduce their size. It might even work the other way around, giving you larger thighs because you'll be building up solid muscle under a layer of fat tissue. It's really that fat that you want to banish and the only effective way to do that is to include cardiovascular exercise in your workouts. There is no one cardio machine that is better than the next for providing you with a challenging cardio workout. It all depends on you, what your preferences are and whether you have any physical limitations, like knee problems for example, that might mean the elliptical or the stationary bike would be a more comfortable workout than the treadmill, with less chance of injury for you.
More Than Just One
Your thighs are made up of more than just one muscle, so unless you work your upper legs with a variety of different machines and exercises to get a complete thigh workout, you'll end up with unbalanced muscles and weird-looking thighs. Pick the machines that will work to tone all of your upper leg muscles. Use the leg press to work the quads on the front of your legs, the leg curl machine to work the hamstrings on the back of your thighs, and the adductor/abductor machine to work the inner and outer muscles on your upper legs.
Alternative Equipment Exercises
There may be a handful of thigh-toning machines that will help get your upper legs looking great once you've started burning fat off of them, but there are also many exercises that use other equipment. You can work your inner thighs -- adductors -- by lying on your back and squeezing an exercise ball between your knees. Your abductors -- outer thighs -- will get an effective workout when you lie on your side and lift your top leg up. Use ankle weights or a light hand weight to add intensity to this version of an abductor exercise. When you hold dumbbells in your hands while performing step-ups, you'll be engaging your quads. And deadlifts and squats activate both the quads and the hamstring muscles.
No Equipment Necessary
There may be times when you don't have access to any equipment at all, but that shouldn't stand in the way of your workout, especially when you have a goal like toning up your thighs. The cardio aspect of your workout can be easily resolved with a jog or a bike ride in the great outdoors and thankfully there are some exercises you can do wherever you are that don't require any specialized machinery. Squats can be performed using your bodyweight as resistance, as can lunges and step ups. Leg lifts benefit from the use of ankle weights but can be performed without them in a pinch and you can improvise a box jump by using a short set of stairs, two or three at the most.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.