Everyone has their reasons for getting to the gym, and typically, it’s not just for their health.
Although it’s great to be concerned about your physical wellbeing, another reason people hit the gym is to get a step closer to the body they want - that is wider hips and thicker thighs.
As you can probably guess, the key to getting thicker thighs and hips is exercising and getting in more calories than you burn each day, or a caloric surplus. For many of us, though, even this isn’t enough. (1)
Genetics have a major effect on your ability to gain weight in certain areas, and sometimes your body type isn’t conducive to thick thighs and hips. This is where dietary products comes in.
Read on for exercises, and dietary adjustments that will help you work towards the body you want.
The Best Exercises for Thicker Thighs & Hips
We’ve collected what we believe are the best exercises for pumping up your thighs and hips.
For muscle growth, variety is key, so alternate these exercises workout to workout.
Whereas thighs are often focused on as part of leg day, hips are often ignored. This is a problem because your body needs an equal focus on all muscles of the body, including the hips.
These exercises positively affect thick thigh muscle growth, but they also promote hip muscle growth and increased flexibility and strength.
Squats are known as the King of Exercise, and we have to agree: they’re pretty perfect.
Squats target both the thighs and the hips - perfect if you're looking to build a bigger booty, so they’re an ideal exercise to incorporate into your workout days frequently.
For the most muscle growth, squatting with a barbell is ideal. If you’re new to weights, though, take it slow.
Consider asking a personal trainer to make sure your form is correct as well.
How to: Align your feet shoulder-width apart, with your toes slightly pointed outwards in a comfortable position. There should be a slight arch in your back, and you should avoid bending over or looking down. Take a deep breath and contract your abs as you descend to a near-90 degree angle with the ground. As you rise, breathe out. Avoid allowing your knees to turn inward – this is the fastest way to injury.
Like squats, lunges are best with weights, with dumbbells in your hands or with a barbell - learn the difference between the two here.
How-To: For lunges, step forward about two feet, lowering your upper body but keeping the torso upright. Inhale as you go down and avoid letting your knee extend past your toes.
Repeat this movement for about 20 steps, rest a minute, and then repeat 3-5 times.
For even thighs, try one-legged squats with one leg behind you on a chair or box while lowering the other leg 10 times. Switch legs, rest, repeat 3-5 times.
Deadlifts are the golden boy of leg day – they look simple, but they target so many parts of your body, especially the back of your thighs and your hips.
Like any other exercise, deadlifts require perfect form for the best results and to avoid injury.
Ask someone to check your form before adding deadlifts to your regular workout routine.
How to: With your feet hip-width apart and a barbell in your grip or a kettlebell in your hands, take a breath in, lower your hips and flex your knees, until your shins contact the bar in front of you.
Look forward, keep your chest up and back arched, and drive through your heels to lift the weight, breathing out. After the bar passes your knees, pull your shoulders back and together, driving your hips into the bar. Lower the bar and repeat 10 times for 3-5 sets.
4. Hip Extensions, AKA Donkey Kicks
Hip extensions can be done on a mat without weights, with a band, or on a GHD machine. The key to hip extensions is to keep your back rigid and flat, focusing on rotating your hips.
This exercise works your hip muscles known as hip extensors to give you the curves or strong sides you want.
5. Leg Curls
Leg curls are ideal for hitting the backs of your thighs, or your hamstrings.
How to: Using a seated leg curl machine, exhale while you pull the machine lever as far as possible to the back of your thighs by flexing at the knees.
After pausing for a second or so, return to the starting position while inhaling. Make sure to avoid using such heavy weights that you begin swinging or jerking, as this can cause back and hamstring injuries.
6. Leg Press
This exercise is ideal because it exercises your quads, calves, glutes, and hamstrings. In other words, every muscle you could want to exercise for bigger thighs and wider hips.
How to: Using a leg press machine, place your feet at shoulder width apart. Upon exhale, press the platform forward until your legs are fully extended, but avoid locking your knees.
When you inhale, lower the platform until your upper and lower legs are at a 90 degree angle.
7. Side Leg Raises
You can perform side leg raises standing up for lying down, but we recommend standing, as this also helps improve your balance. Standing straight, lift your left leg as high into the air, to your side, as you can, and lower it in a fluid yet controlled motion.
Building Thicker Thighs Training Tips
1. Reduce the Cardio
When you’re looking to gain muscle anywhere, strength training is your friend. In other words, you’re going to be lifting a lot of weights.
Cardio becomes less important when you’re trying to gain weight, as it burns calories so well and typically promotes a leaner body, low on fat and lower on muscle as well.
While you should always incorporate some cardio into your weekly workout, for this particular goal, reduce cardio to 2 to 3 times a week, for about 20 to 30 minutes. Pick exercises low on bursts of high intensity, such as jogging or biking at a steady pace.
2. Increase Your Frequency
Whereas many people don’t weight lift at all or only hit their legs once a week, you’ll need to increase the focus on your legs to 2 to 3 days a week. Make sure that these days are nonconsecutive, as your muscles need time to heal and grow.
According to volume-unmatched research, training a muscle group 2-3 times per week is superior to once a week for strength development (given that higher frequency = more volume).
It is very possible to over-train, and you don’t want to injure yourself.
Rest is completely necessary for muscle growth, and you’ll need to drink a lot of water and sleep well each night to promote it as much as possible.
4. Don't forget the other parts
Don’t skip out on weightlifting for other parts of your body, either. You need balance.
If you aren’t used to weightlifting, start at a very low weight and add poundage slowly, so as to avoid injury or developing a poor form.
Diet: Here's What You Should Eat
For a lot of people, an increased focus on weightlifting isn’t going to cut it. If you want real results and you want them fast, your best option is the holistic one.
What we mean by this is a strong combination of mindful exercise, diet, and supplementation.
All foods are not created the same, and for thick thighs and hips, we’ve got quite a few recommendations for you.
The key to gaining weight in any area is consuming more calories than you burn, but you want them to be the right calories.
Increase your calorie intake, focusing on healthy carbs and fats and proteins. Protein in particular promotes muscle growth fast and helps avoid fat gain.
If you want toned thighs and hips, not flab, here are superfoods for muscle-building for your thighs and hips:
1. Healthy Carbs
2. Healthy Fats
3. Healthy Proteins
By far, proteins are the most important type of food when it comes to building muscle. All proteins are not created equally, though. We recommend:
Best Time To Take Supplements
Your body has so many needs, and based on your unique genetic makeup and your varying dietary choices, you may have a wide range of nutritional needs you aren’t satisfying with food and drink alone.
The fastest and easiest way to deal with this problem is by taking a daily multivitamin. Harvard School of Public Health has compiled research that shows the multivitamin can be likened to your nutrition insurance policy. (2)
Before your workout, drink a cup of coffee or green tea.
Studies show that caffeine gives you that extra burst of energy you need to power through a tough weightlifting workout, possibly because caffeine blocks adenosine receptors which tell your body it’s becoming fatigued (3).
You can also purchase caffeine pills like green tea extract pills, but be careful – often these are so jam-packed with caffeine that they can give you negative side effects like a racing heart, anxiety, and irritability.
So maybe you’re going to become one of those guys walking around with the shaker bottle. So what? Whey protein speeds up muscle rebuilding and growth post-workout.
Compared to a post-workout meal of carbs, a post-workout meal of carbs and protein reduces recovery time by nearly a third. They’re also easy to prepare and pretty darn tasty when combined with fruit, yogurt, and milk for a protein-packed smoothie. (4)
How Long Until You See Results?
Although we know it to be true, sometimes it’s hard to remember that change comes about slowly but surely when you’re working hard.
Try to avoid being frustrated or giving up in the early stages of adopting this plan.
Your body won’t transform overnight, but it’s so rewarding when you look in the mirror and you do begin to see a change. Remind yourself that it will take time, but your efforts will prove worth it, as you’re becoming healthier every time you walk into the gym.
If you’re interested in tracking your progress, consider taking measurements or a before and after picture, but don’t look at the photo all the time – put in a months’ work and then consider comparing photos.
Once again, it’s important to remember that you can’t quite bypass genetics. Your body is uniquely designed and may gain weight easier in certain areas than others.
We can’t transport fat or muscle (oh, if only).
When you accept this about your body, you can become happier with the results you get from exercise and diet, even if you don’t get the perfect thighs and hips you were hoping for.
One major study shows that even when men and women complete the same exercises, changes can range from losses of muscle mass (-2%) to massive gains (59%). (5) Because of this, different body types may require more bulking and calories, more weightlifting or more cardio, or more nutrition.
For more information on muscle-building for the 3 distinct body types, check out our article here.
There is no one-size-fits-all plan for building larger thigh and hip muscles, which means adjustments may be necessary as you try out our recommended exercises and diet plan. One way to counter genetic disadvantages is by taking supplements.
How to Get Bigger Thighs: The Bottom Line
Like any physical transformation, pumping up thighs and hips doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a combination of weightlifting, nutrition, and diet decisions.
If you work out and eat mindfully, though, chances are you’re going to see results.
Be patient, work hard, and remember to celebrate your gains.
By learning how to build big legs will make your thighs bigger and hips wider - it's really a win-win situation. You become increasingly healthy as you replace muscle with fat and tone up, but you also gain a higher self-esteem and confidence in your body image.
Have you had issues with building muscle in your thighs and hips?
Share your story, questions, problems, or tips for how to get that much closer to thighs and hips you’re just itching to show off.
1. A Calorie Counter, How Many Calories Do I Need To Eat Per Day To Build Muscle Or Gain Weight?, retrieved from http://www.acaloriecounter.com/diet/how-many-calories-to-build-muscle-or-gain-weight/
2. Harvard T.H. Chan, Nutrition Insurance Policy: A Daily Multivitamin, retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/multivitamin/
3. Davis JM, Zhao Z, Stock HS, Mehl KA, Buggy J, Hand GA., Central nervous system effects of caffeine and adenosine on fatigue., retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12399249
4. Jeff S. Volek, Ph.D., R.D., Whey protein speeds recovery, retrieved from https://www.nutritionexpress.com/showarticle.aspx?articleid=1359
5. Hubal MJ, Gordish-Dressman H, Thompson PD, Price TB, Hoffman EP, Angelopoulos TJ, Gordon PM, Moyna NM, Pescatello LS, Visich PS, Zoeller RF, Seip RL, Clarkson PM., Variability in muscle size and strength gain after unilateral resistance training., retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15947721