Are you scrambling to find some leg-slimming exercises to help you achieve the slim thighs and toned legs of your dreams? Did you fall off your healthy eating and workout routine while in quarantine? Or maybe you want to look great for the upcoming holidays and start the coming year on the right foot?
2020 has been a tough year, and many of us have not had the time or energy to work out and/or eat right, and the pounds have crept upon us. If you have suddenly realized that your favorite pair of jeans can no longer go past your thighs, you are not alone. If you want to remedy this and are looking for answers to issues such as ‘how to lose leg fat’, ‘how to lose thigh fat,’ as well as ‘exercises for slimming thighs and legs,’ read on to find out more about this.
Tips And Tricks On How To Lose Leg Fat And Tone Down Thighs
Before looking up leg-slimming exercises or other tricks to help with thigh fat, the first and most important thing to realize is that the notion of spot reduction does not work. You cannot eat a certain way or exercise just one part of the body for the fat to ‘melt away’. This is a myth that has been sold for many years, that most people have begun thinking to be true (6).
There are several studies that have gone on to further debunk this myth:
- In 2011, the results from a randomized controlled trial proved that participants who only completed exercises targeting the abdominals for six weeks found no reduction in belly fat (11).
- Another study done for 12 weeks in 2015 showed that overweight and obese women who consumed a healthy diet and did abdominal workouts experienced no significant loss in belly fat and circumference as compared to the women who only ate a healthy diet and never worked out for the same duration (4).
- A clinical trial done in 2013 proved more or less that same thing. 7 men and 4 women were required to work out one leg 3 times a week for 12 weeks. At the end of the trial, researchers found that overall body fat mass reduced by 5.1%. However, when it came to the legs, there was no discernible difference in bone mass, lean mass, fat mass, or fat percentage in both the control and trained leg. Both limbs remained the same, while the changes they hoped to observe were somehow noticed in the upper body (7).
- Another study done back in 1971 on tennis players showed no difference in the thickness of subcutaneous fat over the muscles of the arm receiving more exercise than the arm receiving less exercise (12).
With that being said, here are some tips and tricks to help you lose leg and thigh fat:
Reduce Your Calorie Intake
Leg and thigh fat works in the same way as belly fat or arm fat does. It is caused by an excess amount of calorie intake. When you consume more calories than you burn, the excess energy is stored in your body as fat and can accumulate in your thighs.
To counter this, it is advisable to cut your calorie intake by at least 500 to 1000 calories a day – or 3500 to 7000 calories a week. This results in a sustainable weight loss plan of 1 to 2 pounds a week (2). A point to note is that women and men should not consume less than 1200 and 1500 calories a day, respectively, unless under strict observation by a doctor (1).
Do More Cardio Exercises
If you are wondering how to lose inner thigh fat and slim down your legs, then cardio is a great way to do this. Aerobic workouts boost your heart rate, making your blood pump faster; your breath comes faster and makes you sweat more, which makes you burn calories faster (5).
Always aim to increase the intensity of your cardio workouts as the faster and harder you exercise, the more calories you burn in a short time. The results of a study done in 2014 showed that healthy young women who ran sprints three times a week for 6 weeks reduced their total body fat by about 8% (9).
While increasing your cardio and reducing your caloric intake can help in how to reduce leg fat, combining cardio, healthy food, and strength training will seriously increase your fat loss. Strength training – either with weights or just bodyweight – helps create muscle, and muscles burn more calories than fat.
While muscle burns about six to seven calories a day, fat burns about three times less than this (10), which means that strength training will increase your chances of slimming down your thighs and legs. A study done in 2017 showed that a combination of resistance training and a healthy diet has better results in relation to fat loss (8).
Fix Your Diet
While there is no specific diet for reducing leg, thigh, and inner thigh fat, some foods have fewer calories, which will help with your calorie deficit diet. A well-balanced diet to help with weight loss means one that is full of (3):
- A variety of fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains, such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread
- Protein from a range of sources, which may include beans, nuts, seeds, lean meats, and eggs
- Healthy oils, such as olive oil and nut oils
Your diet should also limit refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and salt (sodium) as well as saturated fats and trans fats, which are often found in your favourite desserts and fast foods.
Once you have done all of the above, the next best thing to do would be to incorporate leg-slimming exercises into your workout routine. These exercises for slimming thighs and legs will help your body burn fat and increase muscle giving your lower body a slimmer, fitter, and toned look.
This exercise works the muscles in your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and hip flexors.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, resting your arms straight down at your sides.
- Bracing your core and keeping your chest high, begin to push your hips back, bending your knees as if you are going to sit down.
- Ensure that your knees do not cave in and when your thighs are parallel to the floor, pause for 2 – 3 seconds.
- Push up evenly through your whole foot back to the starting position.
- Do this up to 20 times for one set.
Fire-hydrants mostly work your butt muscles but are also waist-slimming exercises for legs as they engage your core and inner thigh muscles as well.
- Start on your hands and knees on an exercise mat.
- Place your shoulders above your hands and your hips above your knees. Tighten your core and look down.
- Lift your left leg away from your body at a 45-degree angle. Keep the lifted knee at a 90-degree angle.
- Slowly lower your leg to the starting position to complete 1 rep.
- Repeat this 10 times before switching to the other leg and doing the process once more.
Remember to do this whole process in a slow and controlled version to make sure that you are properly working all your muscles.
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Like squats – and other versions of them – plie squats are great leg-slimming exercises as they work out your legs, glutes, and calves.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and turn your out into a 45-degree angle.
- Bend knees and lower your torso, keeping your back straight and abs tight. Imagine that your knees need to open wide as you sit down and engage your core by pulling your belly button to your back.
- Squeeze your glutes and come to a standing position.
For anyone looking into ways on how to lose inner thigh fat, then side lunges are for you. This exercise works out your quads and glutes, while the side-by-side movement places extra strain on your inner and outer thigh muscles.
- Start by standing up tall. You may hold a dumbbell in your hands in front of your chest or use your bodyweight and clasp your hands in front of your chest.
- Step forward with one foot until your leg reaches a 90-degree angle. Your rear knee should remain parallel to the ground, and your front knee shouldn’t go beyond your toes.
- Lift your front lunging leg to return to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 to 12 reps on one leg before switching to the other leg. You may also switch off between legs until you’ve totaled 10 to 12 reps per leg.
A variation of the above workout, it exercises your inner thighs, quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
- Stand with your feet together, arms down by your sides.
- Take a wide step to the side with your left foot and bend your left knee, pushing your hips behind you.
- Keep your back flat, eyes looking straight ahead, and reach both arms on either side of your left foot, touching the ground with your fingertips.
- Push off the left leg and shift your weight back into the right foot, reaching both arms up to the ceiling, while you bring your left leg across the front of your body and tap your left toes on the floor, just past your right leg.
- Repeat this for 12 to 15 reps on each leg.
Inner Thigh Pulses
This is a fantastic workout to add to your list of leg-slimming exercises as it works out your inner thighs.
- Start on your side with your neck supported by your hand and your body in a straight line.
- Straighten your bottom leg and bring your top leg in front for support, folding it at the knee.
- Raise your lower leg and pulse for 30 seconds, moving just from your hip joint. Keep your core tight and the bottom leg straight as you lift it.
- Pulse about 12 to 15 times before switching to the other side and repeating the process.
There are two variations to this workout. Standing leg raises and ones done lying down. Here is how to do a standing leg raise.
- Start by standing in front of a chair or a wall for support and keep your hands out in front of you or resting on your hips. Stand upright with your toes facing forward.
- As you lift your right leg up off the floor with the foot flexed, inhale and shift the weight into your left foot.
- As you exhale, bring the leg back down to meet the left.
- Repeat 10 to 12 times, then switch to the other side.
If this does not work for you or you want a more challenging version try this:
- Lie down on your side, keeping your ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, and ears are aligned.
- Move your legs slightly in front and prop your head on your hand to help with your balance.
- Inhale and engage your core; on an exhale (with your core still engaged), lift both of your legs a few inches off the mat.
- Hold them up for two to three seconds and inhale as you lower your legs back down to the mat.
- Do this eight to 10 times before switching to the other side and repeating the process.
This workout works mainly to sculpt and firm your glutes but also strengthens the hips, tones the thighs, and tightens the core. Kneeling roundhouse kicks are fantastic examples of waist-slimming exercises for legs.
- Start by kneeling on all fours on a mat. Keep your arms extended under your shoulders and knees bent under your hips.
- Keeping the knee bent, raise your left leg up and out to the side until it’s level with your hip.
- Straighten the knee and kick your foot out to the side.
- Return to the starting position, repeat, and then switch legs.
- Do this for 10 to 12 reps for each leg
Lateral Band Walk
Also known as side steps, they workout the muscles in your glutes, thighs, and calves.
- Take your resistance band, place it above each ankle, and wrap it around both legs.
- Position your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees slightly and move into a half-squat position to activate your butt and thigh muscles.
- Maintaining the half-squat position, shift your weight over to one leg and take a sideways step with the other leg. Move this leg in and out, sideways, for eight to 10 repetitions.
- Ensure to maintain a low, forward-facing posture, your back straight, and your core is engaged.
The Best Leg-Slimming Exercises While Sitting
If you spend all day seated, you may benefit from doing some leg-slimming exercises while seated. Here are some examples:
- Find a sturdy chair or bench and attach your resistance band to the leg or base, so it loops around your ankle.
- With your legs at 90 degrees, feel the resistance as you straighten your right leg. Bring your leg back to 90 degrees as you return to your starting position. Remember to keep your back straight and core engaged.
- Do a total of 12 reps before switching and doing the same on the other leg.
Reverse Chair Crunch
Not only does this workout qualify as a leg-slimming exercise, but it also doubles as one of the most effective waist-slimming exercises.
- Sit up straight in your chair with a neutral spine and extend your legs in front of you.
- Place your palms on either side of your body, flat on the seat of your chair.
- Squeeze your legs together, then lift them so your feet hover one inch off the ground and your thighs are lifting slightly off your chair.
- Spread your legs up to 2 or 3 inches apart, then tap them together.
- Do this 8 to 10 times before releasing and lowering your legs.
This movement works out your core muscles and helps burn fat and build your leg muscles.
The Bottom Line
Leg-slimming exercises will help burn fat and tone the muscles in your legs and thighs; however, they won’t work on their own. As mentioned above, spot reduction doesn’t work, and thus these exercises for slimming legs and thighs should be included in a well-rounded, full-body workout. Ensure to also reduce your calorie intake and eat the right foods to help with weight and fat loss.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Calorie counting made easy (n.d., health.harvard.edu)
- Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Eating & Physical Activity to Lose or Maintain Weight (2019, niddk.nih.gov)
- Effect of abdominal resistance exercise on abdominal subcutaneous fat of obese women: a randomized controlled trial using ultrasound imaging assessments (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- How Cardio Exercise Can Help You Lose Weight (2019, verywellfit.com)
- Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn (2013, acefitness.com)
- Regional fat changes induced by localized muscle endurance resistance training (2013, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Resistance Training Combined With Diet Decreases Body Fat While Preserving Lean Mass Independent of Resting Metabolic Rate: A Randomized Trial (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Running sprint interval training induces fat loss in women (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Amount of Calories Muscles Burn (2020, verywellfit.com)
- The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat (2011, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Thickness of Subcutaneous Fat and Activity of Underlying Muscles (1971, acpjournals.org)