Thick Thighs

My girlfriend has thick thighs. She actually has a small frame (weighs 118 lbs, 5’3) and her upper body is relatively skinny but toned. The problem is that her thighs are too muscular. There’s not too much fat on them, and overall she doesnt have too much fat on her body (calipers give her a reading of around ~21%). Being the typical girl, she’s more interested in her appearance than her functional strenght, and she’d obviously like to reduce her thigh size to match the rest of her body. Wary of her thick thighs, she’s stopped doing leg exercises such as squats and lunges like she used to do. Is the only way to reduce her thigh size to cut calories, abstain from doing leg exercises, and wait for her thigh muscles to atrophy?

I will not help with this. I love thick thighs, and it hurts my heart that a girl would do this.

Bad luck,


I also think that it is ridiculous for someone to “try to get smaller”…I LOVE that type of body…we’re talking CHEERLEADER TIME BABY! But I digress…

If you really want her legs to atrophy, have her do a lot of slow, long distance running…that’ll strip that glorious muscle away quicker than…on second thought, I can’t seem to think of an appropriately funny metaphor. Never mind.

Instead of trying to decrease the size of her legs, why not increase her upper body to balance?

I would say that you girlfriend has some serious issues. Thick thighs are sexy as hell. I like big butts…

Unless she has very separated/cut legs, at 21%, she does carry fat on her legs. Typical dietary practices will work. Many women erroneously assume that their legs are big and bulky from training them when in reality they’re carrying some good fat on them.

Sure you could try to atrophy them, but all that’s going to do is give her shapeless legs. Muscle is what gives a woman’s legs shape. I’m sure if she was able to drop the fat to the point where she could see how contoured her muscle makes her legs look she’d think differently.

I’d just do relative strength work and work on losing the fat. Eliminating squats, lunges, etc. will have more of a negative effect than a positive one.

BTW, I have found HIIT to be excellent at bringing down a woman’s lower body fat/leg size.

IMHO, your girlfriend is making the same mistake most women make in the gym. Most women think they need to lose weight or muscle on their lower bodies when what they need to do is build their upper bodies to make their bodies more proportional.

Muscular legs are beautiful. Your girlfriend should NOT stop doing squats and lunges.

Why don’t you encourage her to get stronger anyway? Speaking from personal experience I can tell you once I started getting stronger I never looked back. Adding muscle has also made my body look better.

Thunder and MD gave you solid advice. For many women, thighs are the last place to lose bodyfat while dieting. Some women can achieve a very lean midsection with a visible six pack and still be carrying excess bf on their thighs. They often mistakenly believe that they are carrying too much muscle mass on their legs when it’s simply stubborn bf. As thunder said, HIIT works better for this problem than traditional ‘long slow distance cardio’. Dan Duchaine used to talk about stubborn lower bodyfat levels for women and felt that keto type diets worked better than other calorie restricted type diets for addressing this issue. I don’t know if this has been proved or disproved, but Thunder might have some better insight into this.

In my opinion, it is again not the muscle that’s causing her thighs to be thick, but most likely fat sitting over that muscle. I say this often to some of my trainees…size is almost never about how or how much you are training…but, about diet! You cannot maintain size (either fat or muscle) if you aren’t eating enough to maintain your current weight, or more. No one here can tell you what another person requires in the way of caloric intake to gain, maintain, or loose weight. It’s, again, why we often preach keeping a food long. Each person needs to find out through trial and error how their bodies respond to whatever diet choices they make. Just make sure she isn’t doing the starvation diet thing…definitely not a way to loose lower bodyfat. In fact, just the oposite.

I would (and have) approached the pear-shaped woman from four different directions: First, don’t stop training legs. Keep the squats and lunges and other free-weight exercises, and like any successful weight training protocol…you need to increase training intensity progressively. Build muscle on the upper body (chest, back and especially shoulder definition), it helps to balance the symmetry of upper and lower. Third, HIIT cardio (try adding some sprints to the program) i.e. on Saturday AM, I go out with some people to a local track and we do a routine that includes running stairs, jogging, walking lunges, and usually finish (after we are warmed up and stretched) with 6 to 10 50 to 75 yard sprints…starting at 65% working our way up to 100% all out sprints. I also do cardio a couple of other days a week, but vary it between different cardio equipment, and intensity levels. And lastly, getting the diet in order. On women, the fat on the lower body and abs is usually the last to go.

My daughter is 21, right now weighs in at 121 lbs, and is beautifully balanced at 5’ 9". But, a couple of years ago, she was bottom heavy at 130 lbs. The difference has been adding upperbody size and definition, and the HIIT cardio. She is a dancer, so keeps her body lean and slender. Her diet wasn’t really that far out of line, and only required some fine tuning.

Depending on your girlfriend’s goals, she has a lot of room to reduce fat. Not that 21% is extreme, but it’s not lean either. She could probably reduce to 14 or 15% without looking too cut.

Thanks for all the great advice. I’m going to persuade to her to continue doing leg exercises and increase lean body mass by working out the entire body. Maybe once she’s decreases her fat percentage her thighs will go down in size and she’ll be happier with her body. In all honesty, I think she already looks great, but for some reason you can never convince a girl of that!

WOW and the sad part is he wants to HELP reduce her thick thighs…what is the world coming to?

Amen wolf, they never seem to understand no matter ho many times you tell them. Sound like you’ve got a good plan though. Here’s a little something you can do to help her out. Start squating your balls off, and grow some tree trunks. That way when your hittin those thick thighs from the backside hers will look more feminine and delicate. You lucky dog :slight_smile: Post again when you’ve got a real problem.

I too have a small frame, and what I call “thick thighs” and big butt. I’m 5’2", 112lbs, and the size of my lower body fluctuates depending on my BF% while my weight remains the same. The key to getting thighs smaller, i.e. leaner, is to add muscle while lowering BF. HITT works beautifully, as do heavy squats and deadlifts. Nevertheless, I have found that diet makes the biggest difference. I have found that eating clean and training consistently helps my legs in shape, as opposed to not training my legs at all. Not training my legs actually makes them look flatter and fatter. In a nutshell, ditto what Thunder posted - eat clean, train consistently, the BF% will decrease and her legs will be shapely. Just make sure she’s aware that her legs can never be like those of a 12-year old boy.

I personally like proportion and I do think even a fit woman can have thighs that are too thick for the rest of her. I’m also really devious and would use this as an opportunity for increased sexual activity with her. I’d make the best case possible that more sex = thinner thighs.

Oh, and high RPM cycling on low load seems to thin the the thighs down without making them all jiggly.

Hey, I know where she is coming from, and sometimes it IS muscle that’s causing the problem. My ex gf was a competitive court volleyball player and her legs where THICK. Her upper body was low digit bodyfat, veins on her abs, and her lower body was extremely muscular with a small layer of fat over them. We started training legs HEAVY six days a week and they grew for about 3 weeks, she was really freaking out, then they started to overtrain and shrink. We tried long distance running first and all it did was kill her knees and she lost size all over, not just in her legs. So with 6 days of leg presses, lunges, squats, etc…did the trick nicely.

you cannot have a big butt at 112lbs.

i like skinny girls…
but hey, beggers cant be choosers

Who the fuck does sprints at THE END of their workout?

You inhibited the fast twitch motor units through excess lactic acid build-up.
You fatigued your CNS prior to the sprints - your most demanding activity in your cardio day, which demands the highest neural input.
You increased your body temperature considerably prior to your sprints - as your temperature increases, higher threshold motor units are inhibited. Increasing temperature IS a cause of fatigue.
Your body derives a certain percentage of it energy from amino acids. As these levels are reduced, tryptophan concentrations increase, thus increasing serotonin levels up - which will increase the sense of fatigue, and inhibit the activation of the higher threshold motor units.
Hydration levels are lower. A 1% dehydration factor leads to a loss in the ability to maintain body temperature of 0.3 degrees celsius. When you consider the span between normal operating temp (37 deg C) and critical temperature at which you fatigue (~40 deg C) is only 3 deg C, this is 10%.

In other words, you’re preventing maximal activation of the higher threshold motor units when its needed, by pre-exhausting yourself with lower intensity activities which don’t require as much neural input - but which inhibit it.

Even if your goal is to trim down, it doesn’t make sense. This is worse than doing strength training after 45 minutes of cardio.

I’m speechless.

Tell her to start running. Running without leg work, such as squatting, presses, lunges, etc., will atrophy the legs. Have her start on a light program of 2 miles @ 8:30 pace 3 times per week, and build from there. It’s extremely rare to see a runner (man or women) with jacked thighs.

Diesel, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but … good post.