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Bye-Bye Saddlebags: How to Slim Your Outer Thighs

Bye-Bye Saddlebags: How to Slim Your Outer Thighs

Saddlebags sure are handy when you're riding a horse out on the trail or zooming along on a Harley, but when you're trying to slide into your favorite pair of skinny jeans? Not so much.

If you’re saddled with saddlebags, you're in good company. "Estrogen inhibits fat in the belly and stores it on the thighs, which is why women are typically pears," says Michael Roizen, MD, adding that there's also an evolutionary reason this bane of many women’s existence. "Fat deposits on the thighs are almost exclusively used during late pregnancy and when a woman is nursing," he says. So back in the days when folks often had to scramble for a few meager bites, those thunder thighs could keep both you and your baby alive and well.

That's pretty cool -- but it doesn't really help on the skinny jean front. So what can you do to lose the “luggage” and slim your thighs? There's only one solution: good ol’ diet and exercise.

While it’s impossible to spot-reduce, "as your body starts to dip into fat stores for energy it will take fat from all over the body and eventually from your trouble areas," say the experts at the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Of course, when your body tends to treat your outer thighs like pockets to be stuffed with whatever extra fat comes along, that can take a bit of time -- but it will happen.

"In the meantime, while you are waiting for the fat in that area to be reduced, you can perform some exercises to tone the muscle hiding beneath that fat," says NASM Elite Trainer Joanna Trekas. That way, once you get sleek, you'll have shapely muscle right there, ready to be admired. One of her favorite moves: side-to-side tube walking. Another good outer thigh toner, courtesy of Sharecare fitness expert Pamela Fortner: the fire hydrant. "The fire hydrant exercise is performed on all fours on the floor," she says. Lift one bent leg out to the side, up to hip level, then lower and repeat on the other side.

Looking for a thigh-sculpting routine? Try this four-move saddlebag-slimming workout from fitness expert Geralyn Coopersmith. Bonus: These moves will tone your booty, too.

So long, saddlebags.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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