I’m a 30-year-old female and I need your help. I have a large accumulation of fat on the outer sides of my legs and behind my thighs. It’s very obvious when I wear pants and even worse when I wear shorts. It’s like two oval bags hanging on my thighs and I hate it. I just want to have normal looking legs so I can feel good about myself and not be embarrassed when I’m out in public. Can you please suggest some good exercises I can use to help remove the excess fat from my thighs and to tone and tighten up my legs and butt?
First off, it’s important to realize that exercises meant to target certain areas of the body will not specifically burn fat in that particular area. This is called spot reduction and it’s a common misconception for those beginning an exercise routine. Strength exercises will tone and define the muscles of that area but these results will only be visible if we remove the layer of fat that is hiding them. This process then requires 3 angles of attack:
- Cardiovascular Exercise
- Proper Nutrition
- Strength Training
Cardiovascular exercise is intended to increase the energy output of the body over a set amount of time. Since body fat is simply stored energy, the body will then burn this fat as its main energy source. The body does not however, pick and choose which areas of the body this fat comes from but rather burns it universally from all over the body. So our first step is to begin some form of cardiovascular exercise daily. Fast walking, jogging, swimming, hiking, biking, rollerblading and jumping rope are all fantastic forms of cardiovascular exercise and there are many more. The exercises you choose to incorporate into your cardio program depends on your personal preferences and your current fitness level but a minimum of 30-45 minutes a day is a good place to start.
The next step is to begin to make small changes in your diet and overall nutrition plan. The first area to examine here is your intake of processed foods. These may include potato chips, white bread, soda, candy and many other “empty calorie” items. The problem with these products is that they are generally very high in calories but provide little if any nutrition. This is a bad trade-off if we are looking to lose weight. Simply by cutting out these processed foods you will save yourself a load of calories every day.
Natural foods are inherently low in calories and full of nutrients so we want our meals to consist primarily around these sources. Lean proteins, fruits and vegetables should comprise the majority of your food intake. Since these foods are naturally low in calories, you won’t have to worry so much about counting them all day long.
Strength training is where we can begin to target specific areas of the body for development. The following is a list of some recommended strength exercises to target the areas you referenced in your question.
Great Exercises For Your Legs, Thighs and Butt:
- Walking Lunges (3 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Dumbbell Squats (3 sets of 12-15 reps)
- Barbell Squats (3 sets of 12-15 reps)
It is important to mention that even though these areas may be a priority to you, it is important to incorporate exercises that strengthen other parts of the body as well. The muscles of the body are all interdependent so as we perform movements to target a certain muscle group, many other secondary muscles are used to facilitate these movements. In other words, an increase in total body strength is the ultimate goal. A great way to do this is by alternating between upper body exercises on one day and lower body exercises on the next day. You can access our huge database of exercise guides to pick and choose different movements and learn how to perform each one safely and correctly.