Body Shaping Basics + 5 Exercises for Slimmer Thighs
Andreea Macoveiciuc | On 17, Jan 2014
Even the most confident people have their insecurities when it comes to body shape and weight. Apparently, 81% of adults are very aware of their physical flaws and think there’s space for improvement, while 57% think they look fat, even if their weight is within the “normal” limits.
An interesting survey involving more than 5,000 participants showed that woman want to lose, on average, 19 lbs. (8.5 kg), and both men and women consider their thighs to be the “most hated” part of the body, followed by belly (muffin top) and upper arms.
These statistics, coupled with the fact that people spend over 28 years of their lifetime dieting and trying to trim down the fat from the so-called problem areas, tell me one thing: that most people are misinformed with regard to weight loss, dieting and body contouring.
Body shaping basics
It’s generally accepted that spot reduction is a myth, and one can’t lose fat from a single body area through natural and noninvasive methods. Thus, if you’re unhappy with your thighs, or with how your belly looks like, you’ll have to think of a strategy that will shape your entire body, while focusing on these areas.
Regardless of the body part you want to slim down and tone, the two steps you’ll need to follow are:
1. Focus on lowering your body fat percentage, as this will also reduce the adipose layer on the thighs, belly or arms.
For this purpose you should:
- Do regular cardio (or HIIT exercises), to burn more calories
- Adjust your diet, in order to get balanced amounts of proteins, fats and carbs
No matter how hard you train, if you don’t watch your diet you’ll find it a lot tougher to get in shape and slim down the problem areas, because the excess nutrients are stored by your body as fats. Fat loss comes naturally when you burn more than you eat. The table below indicates the body fat percentages in men and women.
2. Focus on strengthening all your muscles, as this will get you the lean appearance you want.
If you focus on a single area, your body will look disproportionate. So instead of doing so, train all the important muscle groups, to keep your body’s aspect balanced while improving your muscle tone and definition.
For this purpose you should:
- Add weights to your strength exercises, working with lighter weights for definition and tone, and with heavier weights if you want bigger muscles.
- Double the effort and resistance when working the problem areas.
If your most stubborn part is the thighs, work your legs twice a week, focusing on those exercises that target this specific body area, but DO NOT skip the other regions. You don’t want to look like this.
If you want to shape your abs and trim down the belly fat, focus on exercises involving your entire core, not just the lower abs or upper abs. Lifting weights is incredibly efficient when it comes to strengthening the core and reducing the belly fat.
Hopefully now you understood why cardio and strength exercises should both be part of your training routine, and why 100 crunches a day won’t get you the much wanted six pack. So let’s move on and get familiar with some exercises for shaping the most hated area of the body – the thighs.
5 exercises for slimming and toning the thighs
If you’re working out at home and want to see faster results, you’ll need at least an exercise mat, some ankle weights and a pair of dumbbells. Still, if you’re willing to invest a bit more for creating your own home gym, a barbell and some resistance bands are very useful as well, and not just for shaping the thighs.
Ready to start?
These should be part of any workout, whether you want to slim down the legs or arms or belly area, as they burn a lot of calories.
If you’re using dumbbells, you can do regular squats with the weights in front of your body, or plie squats, which are very good for the inner thighs.
If you’re using a barbell, keep the weight as shown in the picture, as this position is more efficient for working the glutes and legs at the same time.
At the gym, use the Smith machine or leg press.
2. Leg circles
This exercise is great for shaping the inner thighs and slimming the legs, so put on those ankle weights and do all the variations you can think of. Pictures below should be helpful.
3. Leg lifts
Get on the exercise mat, with your ankles weights on, and do the movements showed in the picture below, for 1 minute on each side. Lift the legs using your inner thighs – when the exercise is done correctly, you should also feel your abs and core contracted, and your obliques working.
When you’re done with the side lifts, get in the kneeling position and do the following exercise, 1 minute for each leg.
4. Thigh abductions / adductions
At home, put on the resistance band and sit on the exercise mat or stepper in the C-sit position. Core should be contracted and feet on the ground; make sure to maintain the form while doing the exercise, as otherwise you might hurt your back.
5. Leg scissors
With your ankle weights on, lie on the exercise mat and lift the legs to 45 degrees, pointing toes. Mimic the scissor movement, keeping your head and shoulders off the ground and arms extended, on your sides.
If you find it too easy, get in the C-sit position and do the same routine. Once you’re done with these, do some lunges on the stepper, and add some box jumps to get your heart pumping faster.
Keep in mind these simple principles:
- lower weights and more repetitions mean slimmer and better defined legs
- heavier weights and fewer reps mean bigger and stronger leg muscles
Don’t skip the cardio part – treadmill running, outdoor jogging, HIIT, swimming, tennis or any other activity that gets your heart rate higher is useful in accelerating the metabolism and speeding up the weight loss process. Also, remember that cardio alone won’t do what cardio mixed with strength training does, because stronger muscles burn more calories even when resting.
Now put your workout clothes on and go burn some calories!