Seems like you have done all the exercises in the world – squats, lunges, leg curls, glute bridges…

But that stubborn fat on your legs seems to never go away.

Sounds familiar, right?

Over the past 9 years, working as a personal trainer, I always witnessed this: The fat from the upper body goes away just like that.

Easily.

But then you get to hips, thighs, and belly. That’s when the problems start to arise.

In this article you will learn:

  • Why our bodies store more fat on hips, thighs, and belly
  • How to get skinny legs
  • Effective exercises to lose leg fat

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Why Our Bodies Store More Fat On Legs/Belly?

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: Livestrong

Physiologically, different parts of our bodies tend to store fat differently. Mostly because of hormonal stuff happening in our bodies.

For men, we have our bellies being problematic areas. Women – hips and thighs.

Why is that, you wondering?

1. Receptors And Leg Fat

So all of us have receptors, right? But we are interested in just two of them at this point – alpha-receptors and beta-receptors.

Alpha-receptors inhibits lipolysis (fat mobilization) and blood flow in fat tissue. So these, let’s say, are bad receptors.

Beta-receptors increases lipolysis and blood flow in fat tissue. Great! We found the ones that we need to lose that leg fat.

Now, belly, hips, thighs have up to 8 times more of alpha-receptors than any other body part. That’s one of the main reasons why it’s so hard to lose that leg fat of yours.

Sucks, I know…

2. Insulin, Catecholamines And Leg Fat

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: Euractiv

One last boring term that we must get familiar with is catecholamines.

In short, catecholamines increase fat mobilization.

When catecholamines levels are low, fat breakdown is low. When catecholamines levels are high, fat breakdown increases.

The last factor that decides fat breakdown is insulin. And insulin works in relation to catecholamines.

When insulin is high, catecholamines are low and fat breakdown is low.

When insulin is low, catecholamines are high and fat breakdown is high.


What To Do To Get Skinny Legs

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: Women’sHealth

So we now know that leg fat has way more “bad” receptors.

We know that leg fat and all other stubborn areas have bad blood flow which results in lower fat breakdown.

We know that insulin inhibits fat breakdown.

We know that catecholamines increase fat breakdown.

So we need this situation to occur in order to lose leg fat – high levels of catecholamines and blood flow and low insulin levels.

Both can be accomplished by lowering carbohydrates and calories as well as introducing exercise which increases catecholamines and increases blood flow.

1. Lowering Carbohydrates

Don’t even think about me telling how bad carbohydrates are because…

They are not.?????

If you have a lot of weight to lose, it doesn’t matter how much carbohydrates you eat as long as you are in a calorie deficit.

Read more about carbohydrate intake for fat loss.

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: Healthline

However, once you get to a point where you only have that leg or belly fat left and it just won’t go away, lowering carbohydrate intake will help.

It will lower insulin levels and raise catecholamines levels.

That’s what we want, remember?

Now, don’t simply cut carbohydrates out of your diet because that would be a terrible mistake.

Use carb cycling instead. You’ll still feel good, your workouts won’t suck.

You’ll still have a life!

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2. Exercise

Exercise will do two last things for us to mobilize that stubborn leg fat – it will help to increase catecholamines levels and increase blood flow in legs/belly fat tissue. 

Perfecto!

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: TheTimes

Mind you, low steady state cardio is not the best for that. You need a higher intensity in order to achieve that.

Altering heavy training days (heavy weights and low repetitions) with lighter sessions (lighter weights and higher reps) would do the magic!

High-intensity interval training would be beneficial as well.

Not only would it raise catecholamines and blood flow but it would lower your muscle and liver glycogen (carbohydrates) stores even more.


Skinny Legs Workout

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1. Squat

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: Women’sHealth

One of the best lower body exercises that you could find.

If you feel that bodyweight squats are too easy for you, a sandbag would be a great addition to working out at home.

How to perform:

Step 1: Inhale before squatting and exhale while standing up.

Step 2: Start going down by shifting the hips back. Keep the chest up. The entire back should be straight and tight throughout the movement.

Step 3: Once you are at the bottom, drive your butt straight up – not forward.

Step 4: While standing up, push through your heels.

2. Lying Hip Abduction

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: Theactivetimes

I am pretty sure you have never ever seen this exercise. Neither did I until I saw “The Glute Guy“ Bret Contreras doing it.

That’s when I started implementing this glute exercise in my clients‘ workout.

And boy oh boy how cool laying abduction is for building glutes!

Tip: use ankle weights. The exercise is too easy without any weight.

How to perform:

The most important tip is that you have to have your toes pointing down throughout the movement.

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3. Hip Thrust

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: TNation

By far, the best glute exercise. Period.

When done correctly, of course. Many people do hip thrusts completely wrong…

How to perform:

Step 1: Have a box, bench or bed for back support. Keep the chest up.

Step 2: Now the part where everyone gets it wrong: usually you will see people doing hip extension at the top and they hyperextend their back. Instead, make sure to do a posterior pelvic tilt. You will see that in the video.

Step 3: Keep your feet close to each other and point toes outwards.

4. Frog Pumps

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: Vimeo

Frog pumps are at their best when done after hip thrusts as the “finisher“.

High repetitions (20-50) works the best.

How to perform:

Step 1: Bring your feet as close to your butt as possible.

Step 2: Again, the movement at the top should be finished with do a posterior pelvic tilt.

5. Single-Leg RDL

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: Popsugar

Single-Leg RDL is one of the best all-around lower body exercises for building glutes and legs.

Takes time to master but once you do that, have a kettlebell in one hand to make it harder.

How to perform:

Step 1: Stand on one leg.

Step 2: Sit your hips back as if you were being pulled by a rope attached to you. Bend the knee of the leg that you are standing on and keep the other leg straight.

Step 3: Keep your back flat and continue to bend at the waist until you are parallel to the floor.

Step 4: While standing up, push through your heel. Push your hips forward to stand up.

6. Reverse Lunge

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: Coachmag

Any lunge is the way to go when burning leg fat.

The reverse lunge is a unique exercise because what it is, is basically a single-leg squat. A brilliant exercise that will build strength, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.

Once it’s to easy, get a kettlebell in one hand.

How to perform:

Step 1: Brace your core.

Step 2: take a step backward with your right foot and bend your knee until it‘s at 90°.

Step 3: Push through your heel back up. The front heel should never lose contact with the floor!

7. Single-Leg Hip Thrust

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: Muscleandstrength

A great exercise to fix any muscle size or strength imbalances that you may have.

The form is completely the same as with standard hip thrust. Make sure to drive through your heel!

8. Bulgarian Split Squat

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: Legionathletics

By far, my favorite lunge variation of all. It is one of the best exercises you can do for quadriceps, hips, hamstrings, and glutes.

Being a single-leg exercise, Bulgarian Split Squat prevents and fixes muscle imbalances.

Once it’s to easy, get a kettlebell in one hand.

How to perform:

Step 1: Have a box, bench or bed for support.

Step 2: Stand on one foot, with your rear foot on a bench.

Step 3: Keep your back straight throughout the movement.

Step 4: Keep the weight on your forward foot. The rear foot is only for the balance.

Step 5: Descend until your rear knee touches the floor.

Step 6: Exhale and push through your front heel while standing up.

9. Single-Leg Glute Bridge

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: Advancedhumanperformance

This one I got from probably the best trainer on the planet – Nick Tumminello.

Just like with hip thrust, it will build your glutes, hamstrings. The whole posterior chain, basically.

How to perform:

Step 1: Lay on the floor with one of your foot on the bench, box, bed, chair.

Step 2: Drive through your heel, extend your hips by raising your glutes off of the ground.

Perform it without the weight if it‘s too hard.

10. Deficit Reverse Lunge

Why are my legs fat but I am skinny

Image Source: Rntfitness

It‘s the same as reverse lunge that we already talked about. Except, it‘s way harder!

By standing on the step, you increase the range of motion. That works your glutes even harder. You will feel your glutes burning at the bottom of the movement!

Once it’s to easy, get a kettlebell in one hand.

How to perform:

Step 1: Brace your core.

Step 2: take a step backward with your right foot and bend your knee until it‘s at 90°.

Step 3: Push through your heel back up. The front heel should never lose contact with the floor!


Final Thoughts

So now you know why hips, thighs, and belly are so hard to lose.

You know what to do about it. You know the exercises that would help.

The question is – will you do anything about it?

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Egis R.

If you think you have crappy genetics, I tell you: SCREW YOU! You’ve no idea how many times I heard this. And yet, my clients managed to transform their lives with simple steps that I gave them!

Certificate in strength and conditioning, 2014. Lithuanian Sports University, Lithuania

Athletic Training, 2013. Masaryk University, Czech Republic

Certificate IV in fitness, 2017. The Eagle Academy, Australia

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Great advice and workout. I am surprised, though, you had never heard of lying hip abductors before (Bret Contreras rocks, btw). Abductors were popular with all the 80s women’s workouts. Jane Fonda did them for years. They also are a staple among dancers. Thank you for the solid advice on nutrition and exercise.

  2. Well, surely I’ve heard about lying hip abductors😊
    It’s just the way Bret performed them (elevated) was a brilliant addition to my clients’ workouts. Everyone loves it!
    Glad you liked the article 👊

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