Your body's fat distribution is determined by age, gender and genetic factors, so no exercise will cause you to "spot reduce" or lose fat from just your thighs. However, with the right workout program, you can tone your thigh muscles, making your thighs look smaller and firmer. Also, work to lose overall body fat, which will include the fat on your thighs, by a combination of diet and exercise.
Tone Thighs with Strength Training
Perform strength-training exercises for your thighs on two or three non-consecutive days every week. Allowing a day of rest in between workouts lets your muscles repair and recover.
Use your own body weight at home to tone thighs by doing squats and front and side lunges. For a more challenging workout, hold dumbbells in your hands while doing these movements.
Work all thigh muscles by using leg press, leg extension, leg curl, thigh abductor and thigh adductors machines at a gym. Complete one or more sets of 8-to-12 repetitions using a weight you can lift no more than 12 times.
Lose Body Fat
Eat 250 to 500 fewer calories per day than you expend to reduce your body fat percentage. Avoid very low-calorie diets of under 1,200 calories per day as they may cause you to lose muscle as well as fat.
Burn calories with cardiovascular exercises. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity cardio for good health, or 300 minutes for even more health benefits.
Get enough sleep. A recent meta-study by Sanjay R. Patel and Frank B. Hu shows that sleep deprivation is associated with weight gain.
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- Exrx.net: Fat Loss & Weight Training Myths
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- MayoClinic.com: Fitness Basics
- BodyBuilding.com: Exercise Guides – Quadricep Exercises
- Exrx.net: Thigh
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Weight - It's Not a Diet, It's a Lifestyle!
- U. S. National Library of Medicine: Short Sleep Duration and Weight Gain: a Systematic Review
- Try weight circuits in which you move directly from one exercise to the next, or even do short segments of cardio between resistance exercises, to combine cardio and strength training in a single workout.
- Consult your health care provider before starting a new diet or exercise program if you are over age 40 or have existing medical conditions.
Carol Poster began writing professionally in 1974. Her articles have appeared in "Outdoor Woman," "Paddler," "Ski Magazine," "Women's Sports & Fitness," "Dance News," "Show Business," "The Athenian," "PC Resource" and "Utah Holiday," among other publications. Poster holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Eastern Washington University, as well as a Ph.D. in English from the University of Missouri.