Have you been lying on your side, a thick band around your ankles, moving the top leg up and down, thinking this will get rid of fat in your thighs?
This exercise is a form of hip abduction. Though it can condition the smaller muscles of the buttocks for inline skating, this movement is usually performed for the sole purpose of losing weight in the outer thighs.
- Place a thick short band around the ankles.
- Lie on your side, legs straight out.
- Lift the top leg, keeping it straight, as high as you can go, against the resistance of the band.
- Lower it. Repeat numerous times.
- Switch sides and repeat the exercise.
The exercise is also known as lying leg side raises with a band.
This will not help you lose weight. It will not burn fat in your thighs and make them smaller. No, no and no.
Will it make it FEEL as though you’re roasting the fat in your thighs? Yes.
That’s because the gluteus minimus and gluteus medius muscles are being engaged.
You will feel this in the form of a “burn.” But this does not mean fat burn. It simply means the muscles are working.
But then, wouldn’t working muscles burn calories? Yes. Any work burns calories.
But burning calories doesn’t mean that your thighs will lose enough fat, via this exercise, to become visibly smaller.
The calorie burn is not enough to cause a visible change.
If you’re doing leg side raises with a band for physical therapy to heal hip tendonitis, keep doing them if this is helping.
If you want to make inline skating a little easier, keep doing the exercise.
But if you want to reduce the size of heavy thighs, this exercise is a waste of time.
Why Lying Side Leg Raises with a Band Won’t Trim Your Thighs
I never get tired of explaining why isolation exercises with small muscle groups don’t burn enough energy to cause visible weight loss.
Which requires more energy: a motor bike, or an 18-wheeler truck? You know the answer.
Think of the gluteus minimus and medius as a motor bike.
Now … think of the gluteus maximus (the main booty muscle that is clearly visible when it’s built up), and the quadriceps (front of thighs) and hamstrings (back of thighs) as an 18-wheeler.
If you want to lose weight in your thighs, you must work the 18-wheeler muscles.
In addition, to trim your legs, you must also work the largest muscle groups in the upper body: the back and chest.
A resistance training regimen (i.e., strength training, weightlifting) that intensely works these big muscle groups will dramatically increase your body’s energy needs – even after the workout is finished.
Paired with more conscientious eating (that is, portion control, replacing sugary processed foods with whole foods, and soda and juice with water), you’ll lose weight in your ENTIRE BODY.
This will means visibly slimmer thighs and noticeable weight loss everywhere else.
Ditch the lying leg band exercise and replace with the following.
- Leg press
- Flat and/or incline bench press
- Pulling movement such as seated row, bent-over barbell row, lat pull-down
- Kettlebell swing
- Hamstring curl
- Leg (quadriceps) extension
Squats can be done in a variety of ways. This includes lifting that big tire at your gym – but instead of knocking it over, you lower it to the start position, and do that for reps: tire squats.
Another big calorie burner is sled pulling and pushing with heavy resistance.
Look Around at Your Gym
What are the women with the thighs you want doing?
What are the women with big thighs doing?
Take notice of the difference in their exercises as well as effort level.
Leaner women, far more than obese women, will be doing the aforementioned exercises for much of their workout session.
Effort Is Key
This isn’t just about doing the big energy burners to trim the legs and overall body.
It’s also about working hard, or as some trainers like to say, “hot and heavy.”
That means you get hot from the effort of pushing, pressing and pulling heavy loads of weight.
If you’re able to converse while lifting weights, you are using a load that’s WAY TOO LIGHT.
Make it heavy enough so that eight repetitions require hard work and intense focus.
Turn off the wireless and train. Concentrate on good form and proper breathing (exhale on the lift, inhale on the release).
If you have a personal trainer who engages you in conversation while you’re performing working sets, you’re not getting your money’s worth, and you won’t get optimal results.
- Training is not play time. It’s hard work time.
- Personal trainers should not be making their clients laugh during a set. I see this happen way too often.
- The poor client has no idea they’re throwing their money out the window.
If you haven’t noticed trimmer thighs or weight loss despite working many months with a trainer, you’ll want to ask yourself how much this trainer has you yakking during your sets.
Though some women naturally have a propensity towards thick thighs, overall fat loss can be achieved if you work out SMART.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.