There are thigh exercises women can do at home to build muscle.
Many women dream of having strong, lean legs. They exercise day in and day out, do hundreds of squats and spend hours on the treadmill. Yet, their butt and legs refuse to grow. The truth is that squats are not enough for getting bigger thighs. They do help, but you need to do a lot more to shape your body. Remember, exercise and good nutrition are equally important. What you eat can make or break your gains.
Make a Plan
Determine how much time you can dedicate to your workouts. Be aware that you must train your whole body - not just your legs - to gain muscle and strength. Aim for at least four workouts per week. Depending on your preferences, you can work either one or two muscle groups at a time or complete full body circuits.
Train your legs once a week. If the thighs are your weakest area, hit them twice every week, at least 72 hours apart. This will allow your body to recover properly and help prevent overtraining.
Perform four or five exercises for big muscle groups, such as your legs, glutes, back and shoulders, and up to three exercises for smaller muscles like your calves and triceps. Maintain good form at all times.
Focus on Compound Movements
Deadlifts, squats, lunges and other compound movements hit nearly every muscle in your body. In the long run, they build overall strength, improve conditioning and boost your exercise performance. Plus, they stimulate hypertrophy, also known as muscle growth.
The squat, for instance, works your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, back and core muscles. It also increases lower body strength and elevates your metabolism. Since it's a functional movement, it makes everyday activities easier and may reduce injury risk.
Experiment with different squat variations to keep your muscles guessing and prevent plateaus. Try sumo squats, goblet squats, Bulgarian split squats, single-leg squats and more. For a more challenging workout, hold a water bottle or a sandbag in each hand. Ideally, invest in a kettlebell or adjustable dumbbells.
Compound exercises should account for at least 80 percent of your training session. Dedicate the remaining 20 percent to isolation work, such as donkey kicks, glute bridges, hip thrusts and lying leg curls.
Use Proper Form
No matter what exercises you do, always use proper form. This will not only lower your risk of injuries but also speed up your progress. Let's take squats, for example. Studies indicate that deep squats lead to greater muscle activation compared to partial squats. To get bigger thighs, it's necessary to fully activate your muscles during training.
If you're using weights, start with a load that allows you to perform 12 to 15 reps with perfect form. As you progress, increase the weight to stimulate muscle growth. Squeeze your muscles at the top of the movement and hold the contraction for a few seconds. Remember to breathe.
Keep Your Workouts Varied
Over time, your muscles adapt to exercise and stop growing. If you've been doing the same workouts for months, it's time for a change. Try new exercises, lift heavier or increase workout intensity. The whole point is to keep your body guessing.
For example, if your leg training routine includes bodyweight squats, lunges and glute bridges, try something new. Experiment with pistol squats or single leg squats. Swap stationary lunges for reverse lunges and add step-ups to your workout.
Swap Cardio for HIIT
Contrary to popular belief, steady state cardio won't help you build muscle. It can actually hamper your progress and affect hypertrophy. This training method burns both fat and muscle, putting your body in a catabolic state. On top of that, it raises the stress hormone cortisol levels, which leads to fatigue, increased hunger and metabolic problems.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT), on the other hand, burns fat and preserves lean mass. Furthermore, it increases testosterone and growth hormone levels, leading to hypertrophy. Your metabolic rate will go up, too, so you'll burn more calories throughout the day.
With HIIT, you must alternate between short, intense bursts of exercise and low-intensity exercise or rest. For example, you can do jumping jacks or mountain climbers for 30 seconds, rest for another 30 seconds and repeat. For best results, finish your workouts with HIIT.
Eat for Your Goals
Proper nutrition is just as important as exercise. You won't get bigger thighs by skipping meals or binging on junk food. Your muscles need quality protein, complex carbs and healthy fats to grow and recover from training.
Maintain a high protein intake at all times. This nutrient should account for 15 percent to 25 percent of your daily calorie intake. Fill up on lean meat, turkey, chicken breast, fish, eggs and low-fat dairy. Protein shakes are a good option too.
Don't skimp on carbs! These nutrients are your body's main source of fuel. Protein stimulates hypertrophy and promotes muscle repair, while carbs provide energy. Sweet potatoes, brown rice, leafy greens and legumes contain complex carbs that are slowly released into the bloodstream.
Dietary fat is important too. It contributes to hormone production and helps your body absorb vitamin A, vitamin E and other nutrients. Get your daily fats from whole, minimally processed foods, such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, avocados, almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds and extra virgin olive oil.