When losing weight, many women like to focus on one or two particular areas of stubborn fat. One of the most common fat-storing areas is the thighs. According to Patrick Bird of the College of Health and Human Performance at the University of Florida, women tend to store more fat around their thighs due to their hormones. However, while it may be tricky to lose thigh fat, it certainly isn't impossible with a structured exercise plan alongside a calorie-controlled diet.
Squats are often referred to as the king of lower-body exercises and for good reason too. They hit all of the muscles in your thighs -- quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and adductors. Start with body-weight squats. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and knees and toes pointed out slightly. Squat down by pushing your butt back and knees out until your thighs are parallel with the floor, then stand up again. Keep your back straight throughout the whole movement. Once you can do four sets of 15 repetitions fairly comfortably, try weighted squats. You can do these holding dumbbells at your sides, or with a barbell across your back or front. Pick one squat variation per workout and do it for three to four sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Lunges are a unilateral exercise, meaning you work each leg individually. If you've never done lunges before, stick with the basic forward lunge. Step one leg forward around 24 inches and bend both of your knees until they're at 90 degrees, with your front knee over your ankle, then push back up again. Do three sets of eight per side. New York-based strength coach John Romaniello writes in his book "Final Phase Fat Loss" that reverse lunges, where you step backward, are more suited to women, as they hit the glutes and hamstrings harder than forward lunges do. You can also experiment with lunges with your front or back foot elevated, holding dumbbells or a barbell, or walking lunges.
Posterior Chain Exercises
Your posterior chain is the group of muscles around the back of your thighs and butt -- your glutes, hamstrings and lower back. Working on your posterior chain helps improve the overall appearance of your thighs. You can use gym machines such as the leg curl to work these muscles, or try body-weight movements. For the glute bridge, lie on your back with your knees bent to 90 degrees. Dig your heels into the ground and push your hips up as high as possible. Pause for a second then slowly lower them again. Once you can do 20 reps, perform them with just one leg on the floor at a time.
These exercises on their own won't be enough to burn substantial thigh fat. According to the American Council on Exercise, spot reducing fat from specific areas by training them isn't possible. What these exercises will do, however, is strengthen and firm your thigh muscles and burn calories, which will lead to leaner, more defined thighs. Do this workout twice per week on nonconsecutive days, follow a calorie-controlled diet and perform 150 minutes of intense cardio per week as well, to increase calorie burn.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.