Big Thighs & How it Affects Health

Different factors influence the size of our thighs. Whether you have or can get big thighs depends genetics and lifestyle factors, and can also affect your risk for cardiovascular disease and other health conditions.

1. Gender

Women and men have so-called sex-specific fat deposits. Sex hormones affect fat distribution. Estrogen directs fat to deposit around the pelvis, buttocks, and outer and inner thighs of women, while testosterone means men store fat in the belly area.

While this makes it more difficult for women to lose fat from the hips, butt and thighs than from other areas of the body, this type of fat plays a role in pregnancy and breastfeeding.1

2. Body Shape

Body shape has a bearing on the size of your thighs. Pear-shaped women tend to have bigger thighs, butt, and hips, while apple-shaped women tend to have slimmer thighs and legs.

Body shape and where you deposit fat is also linked to health. People with a pear-shaped body store fat on their hips and thighs (gluteofemoral fat), which research suggests is associated with a lower risk for of heart disease, and has positive effects on insulin and glucose. 23

On the other hand people with an apple shape deposit more fat around the abdomen, which tends to signal that there may be higher levels of deep belly fat, called visceral fat. This type of fat is linked to type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer.456

3. Body Weight

Independent of body shape, how much overall body fat you have will affect the size of your thighs – and health. Research suggests weight loss from any part of the body can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and that having a leaner lower body is associated lower triglycerides (a type of bad cholesterol) and blood pressure.7

To lose thigh fat you have to lose weight everywhere. You cannot target thigh fat with specific exercises (called spot reduction). This means creating a calorie deficit though diet and cardio.

As explained above, most women will have a natural tendency to deposit fat in their outer and inner thighs. This means that for people with a pear shape, it can be one of the hardest places to lose fat. So you need to be a little patient, but it will pay off.

3. Muscle

Another reason for big thighs are thigh muscles. Muscle is made up of muscle fibers. There are different types of muscle fibers, which also vary in size. People who have a greater proportion of type II muscle fibers (e.g. sprinters) tend to find it easier to build bigger thighs. People with more type I fibers (e.g. endurance athletes) may have slimmer thighs. 

However, most people have roughly equal amounts of both fibers and anyone can build stronger thigh muscles. Strong thighs are powerful thighs.

If you want to get bigger thighs and increase strength add:

  • Plyometrics moves that require lots of leg power, such as squats jumps, burpees, and skaters.
  • Compound moves that target the thighs in your workout, such as squats and lunges. As you get stronger add weights or make your weights heavier.
  • HIIT, which can build muscles mass at the same time as burning calories and increasing cardiovascular fitness. For the high-intensity intervals don’t just go faster. Ramp up the incline or find hills for running or walking workouts, to really work the thigh muscles and increase
  • Cardio that is heavily focused on legs, especially thighs, such as walking, running, stair climber, elliptical, rower. Increase the incline or resistance to make it harder and target the thigh muscles more.

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    • Hi Ashley!

      Dancing involves explosive movements and strength. If you look at most dancer’s physiques, they tend to be quite muscular, especially in the thigh area. I expect to be a good dancer you need strong thighs, in which case slimming your thighs would be detrimental to your dance and probably increase the risk of injury.


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