If you’re ready to get thighs in shape, you’ll need to make some significant lifestyle changes. Exercise, in addition to creating a calorie deficit, can result in changes to body composition, which can lead to slimmer thighs.
Plus, the benefits are not all aesthetic. According to a 2018 study, losing inches in the thighs, hips, and buttocks may lower other risk factors for heart disease.
Here are 11 lifestyle changes that will help you lean out, tone up, and tighten your thighs.
Creating a calorie deficit in your diet can help you to lose body weight and fat, and lean out your thighs. Losing weight slow and steady is the best way to maintain loss over time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends losing about one to two pounds per week. People who do so are more likely to keep the weight off.
It’s also important to avoid going on an extreme diet that cuts out one food group entirely, like carbs, or is extremely low calorie, notes certified trainer Lyuda Bouzinova.
She says it’s important to taper your food consumption a little at a time so that as you lose fat and weight, your body adjusts to living at that new set point. This helps you stay that way for the rest of your life.
If you’re familiar with indoor cycling classes, you know how much this type of workout targets your thighs. That’s why indoor cycling is an excellent choice for slimming down in this area.
In fact, results of one 2010 study showed a decrease in body weight and fat mass in sedentary, overweight women after 24 sessions of indoor cycling.
On average, running burns 295 calories per 30 minutes and 590 calories per hour in a person who weighs 154 pounds. When you include stairs in your running workout, you will also target your thigh muscles. Since every step requires you to lift your body upward, it forces your leg muscles to fire.
If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, certified trainer Armen Ghazarians recommends beach walking as a way to tighten up your thighs. “The extra tension of walking on the sand will help tone and firm your thigh muscles,” he explains.
To get familiar with exercising on the sand, start with walking in the sand for 20 minutes each day. As your body gets used to exercising in the sand, you can add time to your daily workouts.
It’s no secret that dancers have toned legs. “Dancing combines a cardio element with specific toning moves that are sure to make your legs look amazing,” says Bouzinova.
This YouTube workout with a Pilates sequence is great for lengthening and toning your thigh muscles. Bouzinova says the specific sequence is designed to lean the thighs and create beautiful, long, toned lines by working all of the important thigh muscles in a specific order.
The quick change of direction required in many sports will help shape your thighs from all angles, according to Ghazarians. Consider sports that require you to work your thigh muscles aerobically, such as:
Participating in total-body, muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week may help you burn calories, reduce fat mass, and tone your thighs. Include lower-body exercises such as lunges, wall sits, inner/outer thigh lifts, and step-ups with just your body weight.
The key to making your thighs smaller without bulking up is to keep the reps high (at least 15 reps per set). Perform three rounds of each exercise with minimal rest between each movement.
You can also add upper-body movements to your lower-body exercises for an even higher calorie burn. For example, grab some dumbbells and do lunges with a bicep curl, or squats with an overhead shoulder press.
Bodyweight squats burn calories, strengthen your leg muscles, and tone your thighs. Plus, you can do them anywhere, anytime.
Ghazarians recommends starting with 25 bodyweight squats, two times per day (50 total). You can squat while watching TV at home or after climbing a flight of stairs at work.
Bouzinova says the inner thighs are notoriously difficult to target, and the exercises that do tone them are a little awkward. So many people skip them altogether. But if you feel funny doing the workouts at a gym, do them in the comfort of your own home.
One great move is the “platypus walk” that you can see in this Mission Lean YouTube workout. It works your inner and outer thighs as well as glutes for a completely toned look.
You can do balance work at home or at the gym. “The balance work tones all of the smaller muscles in your legs and thighs, tightens them up quickly, and makes for beautiful, lean legs,” explains Bouzinova.
She says a good move to try is single leg dead lifts on the Bosu ball or doing your whole workout on the beach to really test your balance.
Cardiovascular exercise burns calories and strengthens your heart. It also helps reduce body fat. Including both high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT) and steady-state cardio in your overall exercise plan will help you reduce your total body fat and tone your thighs.
For a more advanced workout and calorie burn, consider adding one session of metabolic conditioning to your fitness plan. The CDC recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, each week.
Combine both moderate and vigorous aerobic activity when trying to slim your thighs.
In order to get smaller thighs, you need to exercise and create a calorie deficit in your diet. Since it can be difficult to spot reduce, losing overall weight can help you take inches off your entire body, including your thighs.
With a focus on bodyweight exercises, aerobic exercise of varying intensities and duration, and eating fewer calories, you should start to see a difference in the size of your thighs.