Saddlebags and inner-thigh rubbing are the bane of many women's existence. Excess fat on the thighs can be unsightly as well as uncomfortable. While leg lifts can build muscle and tone the legs, it will do little to burn away the fat. If you want to look great in skinny jeans or short skirts, you need to combine aerobic exercise and a healthy diet with your leg-lifting regimen.
The thighs are made up of many different muscles, all of which work to help you flex and extend your hip, legs and knees, movements which are needed to walk, sit and perform other movements. The muscles on the tops of your thighs are the quadriceps, whose job is knee extension and hip flexion. On the back of your thighs are the hamstrings, which also help with knee extension and hip flexion. The problem areas for most women are the adductors on the inner thigh and the abductors on the outer thigh. These muscles help with moving your leg away from and back toward the center of the body and offer support with balance and hip flexion.
The dream of spot reducing -- the ability to burn fat off a specific part of the body -- has made the creators of exercise gadgets rich, but fails to produce results. According to the American Council on Exercise, research into spot reducing consistently shows that trying to lose fat in one area through spot training doesn't result in less fat in that area.
More Muscle, More Fat Burn
While leg lifts won't get rid of your saddlebags, they aren't without benefits. Leg lifts increase muscle, which leads to greater fat burn. However, that fat burn is not limited to the legs. When you burn fat, whether it's through cardiovascular exercise or increased muscle mass, the fat lost is throughout the entire body.
Leg Lifts that Burn Fat
The best way to use leg lifts to burn fat is to combine them with an activity that increases your heart rate, which is what does burn fat. For example, adding a side lift to a squat uses the large muscles of the glutes and legs to increase your heart rate, while also toning the legs. Another option is kickboxing, which uses a variety of kicks to the front, back and sides that builds leg and core muscles while burning fat through aerobic activity.
- Inner Body: Muscles of the Leg and Foot
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- MayoClinic.com: Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories
- Fitbie: Squat with Leg Abduction and Lateral Raise
- FitDay.com: Cardio Kickboxing: Increase Intensity, Burn Fat, Lose Weight
Leslie Truex has been telecommuting and freelancing since 1994. She wrote the "The Work-At-Home Success Bible" and is a career/business and writing instructor at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Truex has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Willamette University and a Master of Social Work from California State University-Sacramento. She has been an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certified fitness instructor since 2001.