If you are a woman wondering how to get rid of saddlebags on your thighs, you’re not alone. Along with the abdominal area and the buttocks, according to research the most common problem area for women and the one we most want to trim is our thigh and hip area. In fact, numerous surveys have shown that the question most often asked of fitness trainers is how to reduce thigh fat.
The inner thigh is a concern for many, but more of us seek advice on how to get rid of outer thigh fat. This comes as no surprise, even in this day and age when “thigh gaps” are coveted by women of all ages. After all, with careful dressing, inner thigh fat can be disguised. Saddlebags are harder to hide.
Having fought the battle and won, I’m not going to tell you that getting rid of saddlebags is. It’s not. It takes work and persistence. What I will say is that it is worth it. I distinctly remember the first time I was able to slip into a form-fitting dress and feel good doing so. I bought that dress in three different colors! And I now wear skinny jeans, which I would never have done when I had saddlebags.
Before we look at how to get rid of saddlebags, I will explain what they are for anyone who is unsure.
What are Saddlebags?
Saddlebags is the name commonly given to deposits of fat located on the sides of the upper legs and the area directly below the buttocks. The problem stems from a lack of muscle in the glutes and hamstrings. With little muscle to support it, the excess fat in this area falls outwards and forwards to the sides of the thighs. Strengthening and building the glutes and hamstrings will pull the muscles upwards and towards the backs of the thighs.
If the sides of your thighs and the area beneath your butt stick out more than you’d like them to, you could have saddlebags. Pinch the area. If there is a lot of excess fat, you have saddlebags. If your thighs are wider than you’d like and you can’t grab any fat, blame it on your bone structure. There’s not a lot you can do about that other than to lose any excess weight and tone your thighs to make the best of them.
Keep reading to find out how to get rid of outer thigh fat through diet and cardio. We will also look at the exercises for saddlebags that worked for me and the device I credit with significantly improving the overall appearance of my thighs.
The Key to Getting Rid of Saddlebags
Getting rid of saddlebags requires a three-pronged approach, that being following a sensible diet, doing regular cardio to burn excess fat and doing resistance exercises for the outer thigh area and quads to burn fat and tone the underlying muscles.
We will look at all three below.
How to Get Rid of Saddlebags through Diet
I’d love to be able to tell you there’s a diet or formula for magically getting rid of saddlebags, but unfortunately, no such thing exists. If you are overweight, swap out proteins that are high in fat for low-fat sources, such as fish and skinless chicken or turkey. Replace foods that are high in processed carbs and low in nutritional value with healthy low GI foods, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.
A safe level of weight loss is around two pounds per week. If you lose weight any faster, nutritional deficiencies and health problems can occur. Taking in too few calories will also result in your metabolism slowing down, as your body attempts to store the calories you’re ingesting.
Drinking sufficient water is a key factor in getting rid of saddlebags and reducing body fat in general. In part, this is because often when we think we are hungry, we are, in fact, thirsty. When drinking more water you won’t feel as hungry, so eating less will be easier. Aim to drink 1 ounce of water for every 2 pounds of your body weight, on a daily basis. Doing so will increase your metabolic rate so you will burn more calories. Taking in the right amount of water for your height will also help to prevent water retention, which can make saddlebags appear more pronounced and even dimpled. Click this link to read about 3 ways to beat cellulite at home
Cardio Exercise for Saddlebags
Cardio exercise is crucial when it comes to getting rid of saddlebags.
To lose body fat we need to expend more calories than we take in. We can do this by eating less or exercising more. Doing one alone could require you to either cut too many calories or spend too much time exercising. A combination of diet and exercise is the most effective way to generate a calorie deficit.
Regardless of whether you’re looking at solely getting rid of saddlebags or losing weight all over, cardio that engages the entire body usually burns more calories. I walked (really quickly), but you can do aerobics, run, swim, row or partake in any other aerobic activity you like. Cycling is another good option. The latter doesn’t usually involve the upper body, but it directly targets the entire thigh, including the saddlebags. To target your entire body, choose a bike with movable arms, such as the Body Rider Fan Bike. (Click here to read a review.)
Whichever cardio exercise you decide on, aim to do 45 minutes to an hour, at least four or five times a week.
Effective Kick Boxing Exercises for Getting Rid of Saddlebags
Toning Exercises to Get Rid of Saddlebags
Toning exercises for saddlebags won’t get rid of your saddlebags if you are overweight. However, it’s never too soon to start doing them. Exercises that target the saddlebag area will firm and tighten the underlying muscles so that when you lose your excess weight, your thighs will look sleeker.
One of my favorite exercises for saddlebags is step aerobics. Step aerobics targets the entire leg including the thigh muscles. It also burns a lot of calories. By working your arms as you step and going at a faster pace, you will burn even more calories.
To do step aerobics, you will need a step or a bench of a height that when you step on it, your knee will be at an angle of approximately 90 degrees. A low bench can work in a pinch, too.
If you don’t have anything suitable and want to buy a step, the one I recommend is the Step Original Health Club Step (read my review here). The step used in most gyms across the country, it is very robust, stable and durable. While very effective as is, additional risers can be purchased to elevate the step further and increase the intensity of your workouts as you progress and gain fitness.
Following are two simple step routines and four toning/resistance exercises. When combined with a low-calorie diet and regular cardio training (as can be done on a step), they are some of the most effective exercises for saddlebags you can do.
2 Cardio/Toning Exercises for Saddlebags
Beginner Level –
1) Leading with your right foot, step onto your bench, then bring your left foot up and onto the bench, in line with your right foot.
2) Step back down to your starting position first with your right foot, then your left.
Repeat 20 times, then do the sequence, leading with your left foot.
Intermediate Level –
1) To work your glutes harder, first, place your left foot on the step. Next, swing your right leg up in front of you with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle.
2) Lower your right leg, tapping your right foot on the floor behind the step, making sure your left foot stays still throughout.
Repeat 20 times, then repeat the entire sequence again, starting with your right foot.
Advanced Level –
To increase the challenge further, do the above exercises while holding a weight in each hand. Start with 5-pound weights, gradually building up to 15 pounds as your fitness improves.
- Bench Crosses:
*Anyone with ankle, knee or hip problems should proceed with caution and use a low step. If in doubt, give the following exercise a miss.
1) Stand with your left side next to a long side of your step, your body facing towards one of its short ends. Making fists with your hands, hold them in front of your shoulders.
2) Lift your right foot, crossing it over the front of your left foot, placing it on top of the step, to the right. Keeping your hips squared, press up with your left leg as you swing your left foot up to the bench, placing it beside your right foot.
3) Step back down to the floor with your left foot, then lower your right foot to the floor.
Repeat the sequence, alternating the leading leg. Do 2 or 3 sets of 8 to 16 reps.
* To increase the challenge, add a riser to your step and hold a weight in each hand throughout.
4 Toning Exercises for Saddlebags
The following exercises also target saddlebags, and you won’t require a step to do them.
1) Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart; your toes turned out a little, your arms bent with your hands loosely clenched into fists near your chin.
2) Engaging your abs and keeping your back straight, bend your knees outwards over your toes into a squat, making sure to keep your hips in line with and underneath your shoulders as you lower your body.
3) Straighten out of the squat, sliding your right foot inwards, so it is beneath your hip, toes pointing out. Next, bend your left knee, lifting it up towards your chest, then flex your left foot, kicking it up and out to the side using controlled resistance.
4) Bending your left knee, draw it back in front of your body, before placing your left foot on the floor and sliding your right foot out wide to your starting position.
Do two or three sets consisting of 15 reps, first to the left side, then to the right.
* If you are unsteady on your feet, hold onto a chair or wall until your balance improves.
1) Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, engage your glutes and position your hips slightly back.
2) Stabilizing your core, take a big step to the left, making sure not to let your knees collapse inwards.
3) Next, bring your right foot towards your left. Take 15 steps to the left, then 15 steps to the right.
Repeat the entire sequence.
* To increase the challenge, do the exercise with a resistance band wrapped around your legs slightly below your knees, making sure to keep tension in the band throughout. For an even greater challenge, do the exercise with the resistance band wrapped around your ankles.
- Side Lunge to Curtsy:
The Side Lunge to Curtsy is one of the best exercises for saddlebags.
1) Holding a 5 or 10-pound weight in your left hand, lunge to the right. At the same time, move your left hand down towards your right foot, lowering your hips as you do. Keep your toes pointing to the front, and your right knee bent to 90 degrees at most.
2) Push off gently with your right foot, then curtsy by crossing your right leg behind your left. Make sure to keep your hips squared, your curtsy compact and your toes pointing towards the front.
3) Lower the weights as you rise, then repeat the moves, making sure to work both sides of your body.
Do 3 sets consisting of 15 reps on each side.
* To increase the challenge, do the exercise while holding hand weights in an overhand grip, lifting them above your head as you curtsy. Start with 5-pound weights, working up to 15-pound weights as your fitness improves.
1) Lie on your right side, your left leg stacked on top of your right leg, knees and ankles aligned, your knees bent to a 45-degree angle.
2) Engaging your core and keeping your ankles pressed together, slowly lift your left knee upwards as far as you can, without allowing your body to roll back.
3) Hold your knee in the top position briefly, before slowly lowering it back to your starting position.
Do two or three sets consisting of 12 to 15 reps on each side.
* To increase the burn, wrap a resistance band around your legs slightly above your knees as you execute the moves.
The Icing on the Cake
The fitness device that added the final touch for me is the Maxi Climber.
Initially, my thighs felt stronger and firmer, but they didn’t look any different. After using it regularly for about nine or ten weeks, I noticed a visible change, first in the appearance of my butt and then in my thighs. I’d modified my diet and had been doing thigh toning exercises for a while before I started using it, so whether this would have happened anyway, I can’t say. I’m not going to stop using it, to find out.
Closing Words on How to Get Rid of Saddlebags
If you’ve tried to get rid of saddlebags and failed, don’t be discouraged. With persistence, getting rid of saddlebags is possible.
To succeed, you will need to lose any excess weight which is contributing to the problem. The best way to do this is through a combination of a healthy diet and regular cardio workouts. Adding the resistance exercises above will help you shed excess weight faster and shape, tone and tighten your entire thigh, including the saddlebag area.
I hope you found this article on getting rid of saddlebags useful and that it will help you on your way to sleeker thighs.