For most women, the thighs are a difficult area to keep slender. Genetics come into play--women who are born with a natural pear shape are more likely to gain weight in the thigh region and have a tougher time losing it. However, for those who hold weight in their thighs, take heart. Women who gain weight in the lower body versus the abdomen are less likely to develop breast cancer and other potentially life-threatening conditions. And with a combination of cardiovascular activity, toning and stretching, you can lose inches off your inner thighs.
Cardiovascular activity can help you burn fat, which will take inches of non-lean body mass off your thighs. Because cardio forces your body to use more calories and increases your metabolism, it will help you to lose inches throughout your body -- including your thighs -- both when you are exercising and when your body is resting. In addition, when your muscles become conditioned through cardiovascular exercise, they will be better able to use fat, leading them to regularly dip into your fat stores for energy when you exercise. Some examples of cardiovascular exercises include biking, running, walking, using a cardio machine or taking an aerobics class.
Doing strength training for your leg muscles leads to more lean mass, making your legs appear more svelte because the muscle will be more noticeable than the fat. In addition, building muscle can actually lead to long-term fat loss, because muscle burns more calories than fat when your body is at rest. This muscle will cause you to immediately utilize the calories that you consume -- as long as you don’t overconsume -- sending the energy to your muscles instead of building up your fat stores. Toning exercises for the legs include squats, lunges and leg lifts help to build muscle in the thigh region. In addition, Pilates and ballet tone classes focus specifically on the thigh region, making them a good workout option for you if you wish to lose inches off your thighs.
As with every muscle group, doing weight-bearing activity with your thigh muscles -- the abductor, adductor, quadriceps and hamstrings -- without stretching will lead to bulky muscle mass and a loss of range of motion. Regular stretching allows you to tone your body while keeping your muscles lean and long. Stretches for the thigh region include the yoga exercise "downward-facing dog," hamstring stretch, standing quadriceps stretch and the butterfly stretch, a seated stretch in which you put the heels of your feet together and allow your knees to float gently toward each side, creating a butterfly shape.
- International Journal of Epidemiology; Body Fat Distribution and Obesity in Pre- and Postmenopausal Breast Cancer; E. Sonnenschein
- Fitness Theory and Practice; Peg Jordan, R.N.
- Basic Weight Training for Men and Women; Thomas D. Fahey
- Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.