One of the most common questions trainers and coaches get asked is “How do I get rid of fat from <insert body part here>?” For women the problematic areas are usually the legs, the midriff , bottom and love handles. As most trainers will say you cannot target fat loss persay but you can build muscle and strenghten chosen areas.
Today I want to share my favourite exercises which will tone, stregthen and reduce fat in the thigh area. The thigh contains several muscles; to the front of the thigh we have the ‘quadriceps femoris’ usually shortened to ‘quads’ which contains four muscles, to the rear we have the hamstrings, the adductors which are the inner thigh and the abductors which are the other thigh. The thighs are renowned for storing excess body fat especially during pregnancy and if you have a sedentary lifestyle or sit for long periods of time.
There are so many thigh exercises to choose from, I have selected my top exercises to ensure you get results quicker and none of them require equipment! There has been a lot of interest around weights recently and getting more women in the weights room however, I think body weight work is often over looked. Other benefits of body weight work include – not having to leave the house, no feeling intimidated in a gym atmosphere, cost effective and can be done anywhere!
Here are my most effective exercises for the thigh area:
Squat Jumps – These are an integral exercise when looking for a high calorie burn and gets those quads fired up quickly!
-Stand with your feet parallel a comfortable distance apart with your weight evenly distriputed between both legs.
-Keeping your chest up, bend at your knees then hips to lower your bum towards the ground behind you.
-Go as low as you can go with control, ideally your hips should go below knees. With your weight evenly distributed jump up as fast and as high as you can.
-When you land come down in to the low squat position before jumping again.
Lunge Jumps- Another exercise which cannot be over looked when working on your thighs. This exercise requires alot of balance and determination as they are hard work.
-Start in the lunge position with one foot in front (at 90 degree angle) and the other in behind with the hips lowered.
-Explosively jump upwards switching your legs in the air.
-Go straight in the lunge with the opposite feet and repeat.
-Keep your chest up and core engaged throughout the whole movement.
Wall Sits – for such a simple exercise it isolates the quads and you feel the burn very quickly!
-Start with your back against the wall with your feet shoulder width apart and about two feet from the wall.
-Slowly slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
-Adjust your feet so that your knees are directly above your ankles.
-Keep your back flat against the wall and hold for as long as possible.
Walking Lunges – a leg workout that doesn’t include these is not complete IMO
-Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands on your hips.
-Step forward with one leg, flexing at the knee to drop the hips. Descend until your rear knee nearly touches the floor. Your posture should remain upright and your front knee should stay above the front foot.
-Drive through your heel of your leading foot and extend both knees to raise yourself back up.
-Step forward with your rear foot, repeating the lunge on the opposite leg.
Step Ups – these can be completed using a dining chair/bench for improving balance and strength
-Placing a chair in front of you with the back of the chair to the side, step up on the chair using one foot.
-Lift the opposing leg up flexing at the knee so the thigh is parallel to the floor.
-Step back down allowing the leg you lifting to touch the floor and repeat the movement for the alloted amount of reps before switching legs.
Inner Leg Lifts – the best move to strengthen and tone the inner thigh muscles
-Lay on your side, lengthen your bottom leg (keeping your body in line) and cross your top leg over resting on your knee.
-Prop your head up using your hand to support your head, or lay down and rest your head on your arm.
-Ensure that your pelvis is inline by pushing your top his up creating a gap between your waist and the floor.
-You can support your self using the tips of your fingers of your top arm trying not to put too much weight through your hand.
-Engage your core and lift your lower leg from the floor ensuring the pelvis remains stable and then lower to just before the ground to count as one rep
-For an added bonus after your alloted reps complete some tiny pulses at the top of the lift for as long as you can take the burn!
Side Leg Lifts- this is my favourite move for working the outer thigh and can be done while waiting for the kettle to boil!
-Stand next to a chair, work surface or wall for support.
-Transfer your weight to your left leg then lift your right leg up to the side as high as possible.
-Pause at the top of the lift and slowly lower and repeat for your rep range and then swap legs.
Putting together your own home workout using these simple and effective moves couldn’t be easier! Pick a rep range according to your fitness level (10 for beginner, 15 for intermediate and 20 for more advance) and complete 3-5 sets. Make sure you warm up those muscles before you complete the workout by jogging on the spot, high knees, butt kicks and some jumping jacks. For the wall sit, each time you workout aim to beat your last time by 5 seconds.