Stretching is an essential component of a good exercise program, but it's not going to thin your thighs. You need to burn off the fat and tone those leg muscles in order to see size changes. It may take some time, but with consistency you can change the shape of your thighs and show them off.
What Stretching Does
Stretching improves your flexibility, or the ability of a joint to move through a full range of motion. Regular stretching lengthens the muscle fibers and allows greater mobility, can reduce injury and even improve performance of sports and daily activities. You should stretch your thigh muscles, and the rest of your body two or three times each week. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds at the point where you feel a pulling sensation, but not pain. Perform stretches at the end of your thigh-thinning workout when your muscles are warm.
Cardio to Burn Fat
Cardio is going to burn calories to melt fat off your whole body, including your thighs. Reducing the amount of fat is going to thin out your legs. Perform cardio three to five days per week for modest weight loss, and five to seven days per week for significant weight loss, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Keep your intensity moderate to vigorous to get the most benefit, and keep it up for 30 to 60 minutes.
Resistance to Tone Thighs
As you burn off the fat you want to shape and tone your thigh muscles. You went to the trouble to thin them out, now shape them up. Perform resistance exercises two or three times each week on nonconsecutive days. Do two to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions with a challenging resistance. Perform two or three exercises for your thighs as part of a full-body workout routine. Or you can alternate your leg workouts with upper body training, and increase the amount of exercises you do for your thighs. Squats, lunges, step-ups and all their variations are great thigh shapers.
Sample Thigh Workout
Start by warming up for at least five to 10 minutes. You can walk, use the elliptical or bike to get going. Then try this workout for your hips and thighs from the American Council on Exercise. Hold a set of dumbbells and squat down and up for eight to 12 times. Then move into alternating step-ups on a bench that brings your thigh parallel to the floor. Perform eight to 12 reps each leg. Set the dumbbells down and with your bodyweight do glute activation lunges by stepping one leg in front and across the other as you lunge. Do all reps on each leg before moving on to a hip hinge. Hold a lightly weighted bar along your spine with one hand over your head gripping the bar, and the other hand behind your hips holding the other end. Hinge forward at your hips, keeping your knees just slightly bent. When you feel a stretch through your glutes, lift back up. Finish off with a side lunge using just your bodyweight or holding dumbbells.
- ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription; American College of Sports Medicine
- American Council on Exercise: Hip/Thigh Workout
Bethany Kochan began writing professionally in 2010. She has worked in fitness as a group instructor, personal trainer and fitness specialist since 1998. Kochan graduated in 2000 from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, Medical Exercise Specialist and certified YogaFit instructor.