How to Get a Thigh Gap
I’ve seen instructions to squat, lunge, lift heavy, sprint, etc. and face palm every time that I do.
Because the exercises I’ve just listed above are surefire ways to getting the exact opposite results of what most women want. Don’t get me wrong, you may lose weight and even some fat, but your body composition will, frankly, be all wrong for the aesthetic you want! Besides that fact, I see the very same instruction given to men (and some women) who purposefully want to get bigger, gain muscle mass and look as masculine as possible.
You see, losing fat or bulky, muscular thighs to contour a feminine and svelte body is a fine art. You can’t just do any ol’ exercise and expect to get the specific results you crave.
Honestly, there’s a reason why the celebrities and fashion models have the bodies they do, and it’s because they hire the most knowledgeable people who have studied what it takes to get the body they want. They pay them for their services so the trainer can give them them a body that sells sexy and feminine. The trainer can’t say, “hey, this is what I think would look best” and ignore their clients’ wishes, like all too many personal trainers do!
I hate to say it, but you’re probably already thinking it – take one look at the female clients of most personal trainers. I’m not talking the newbies who are just starting out who may not be the model of health. I’m talking about the women who have entrusted their bodies to the mostly male trainers parading around the gym in those “trainer” t-shirts.
Ok, I’ll say a little bit more for those of you who don’t know what I’m referring to. Men know how to lift heavy and sculpt muscles, i’ll give them that. I mean, they do that all day long to get the masculine, hard looking (and very attractive) bodies they sport.
But the average gym personal trainer does not know a single thing about contouring the feminine physique that many WOMEN truly want. Going back to those women I referred to earlier… their bodies may be lean, but it’s a hard, defined and masculine lean. Most women want a soft, toned slender lean. If you’re a man reading this you probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but I bet you the women are nodding because they are right with me.
CAN ANYONE GET A THIGH GAP?
Unequivocally, the answer to this often asked question is a resounding yes! According to some “experts”, a thigh gap is unattainable unless you have wide set hips, which are genetically predetermined and cannot be altered. Therefore, they say it is worthless to try and achieve the goal of sleek, thin thighs unless you are born with the bone structure. Of course they conveniently omit any indication of how one would know if her body were indeed properly structured, since it is difficult to tell when carrying an excess load of body fat.
I would advise not giving any merit in the statements of those who have never succeeded, much less attempted, to do what you want to do. The impossible is limited to what we have seen and I have seen what these experts say is impossible. The fact is, trying to get a thigh gap is highly frowned upon and discouraged as it is unfairly linked with women and girls who idolize and want a thigh gap so badly that they are willing to go to extreme lengths, such as chronic exercise coupled with starvation or some other form of eating disorder to achieve it.
Of course, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and just as some people take unhealthy and extreme approaches to reach their weight loss goals, there are equally a large number of individuals who opt for the healthy and safer techniques. Keep in mind, that there are also so many varying degrees of thigh gaps and a plethora of different aesthetic looks when it comes to the ‘gap’ that one could be trying to achieve, that asserting such a blanket statement is frankly, laughable.
The truth is, technically, any woman can get a thigh gap if they lower their body fat and get skinny enough. Obviously, if you have narrow hips and strive for a smaller gap, your goal can be more easily attained than if you have narrow hips and strive for a larger space between your thighs. The way most women’s bodies work is that when they lose weight they tend to see the results in their upper body (arms, face, back and abs) way before the weight starts to come from the lower body (hips, thighs, butt, legs). That is what is commonly referred to as ‘stubborn body fat’.
It’s called stubborn because the fat seems to want to cling on in these areas while easily melting away in other areas. The best analogy I’ve heard likened losing stubborn body fat to emptying a pool. Before you can touch the water in the deep end, you first have to get rid of the water in the shallow parts. You can thank Mother Nature and your hormones for this! Much to many women’s chagrin, the female body wants to store fat for childbearing purposes – even if you have no intention of bearing children in the near future.
The trick to achieving a thigh gap, or just a slimmer, more proportionate lower body then, is to obliterate the stubborn body fat. Fat cells have two types of receptors: Alpha-receptors, which inhibits the breakdown of fat, and Beta-receptors, which stimulate the breakdown of fat. Unfortunately, women have more alpha-receptors in the hip and thigh region.
To add insult to injury, women also have three to five times more lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that stimulates fat storage in their lower body than their upper body. Can you now see why these areas are typically the first place in which women gain weight and the last place they lose it? Hopefully you are starting to realize why the best defense is offense when it comes to accumulating fat in the lower body.
If you’ve been overweight all your life, you might think that the girls who have always been sensible about their diet and exercise have it easier, but think again. Even women already average to thin in their upper body will more than likely still need to lower body fat before the stubborn fat is targeted and affected. Trust me when I say that losing fat becomes harder the less fat you have to lose.
It’s painfully clear the deck has certainly been stacked against us women, but before you go cursing the gods, just remember that the predisposition of women to store stubborn lower body fat is said to be for the protection of our reproductive organs, and it’ll all come in handy one day as our bodies will be able to nourish itself during a pregnancy, if that is a goal. If not, let the cursing commence while you do what needs to be done anyway.
What else will determine how easy it will be for you to target and eradicate lower body fat or if you will like the majority who lose fat from everywhere else first and from their hips, thighs, and buttocks last? The answer is genetics. Genetics is your DNA that was inherited through genes passed on by one or both parents, and it mostly determines the pattern of weight loss.
In fact, scientists have discovered that the difference in fat distribution among women have a basis in the region and climate from which an individual’s ancestors have come. For example, in hot countries, such as those within Africa or in the Mediterranean, women tend to store fat in the buttocks, hips and upper thighs, while individuals from certain Asian countries tend to store fat around the belly area.
It is thought that the body stores more fat in particular locations for those individuals who have ancestry in hotter climates because it would be more efficient this way than covering the entire body with layers of fat, which would affect the body’s internal thermoregulation and make daily life unbearable.
For those individuals whose ancestry comes from cooler climates or Eastern European countries, the body fat distribution tends to be more even so as to insulate the entire body to bear the bitter winter months. I believe that cold thermogenesis also has something to do with why those who are exposed to cold store less fat and I will cover that in more detail soon. For now, I assure you that although genetics and hormones may not be on your side, you don’t have to resign yourself to settling for an unsatisfactory body composition. It is completely possible to make a huge difference in your shape and tone your physique through exercise, diet, and a few well-placed hacks.
Once the stubborn fat goes, all that is left is the beautiful, toned muscle underneath. Without the excess fat on your inner and outer thighs, voila – your thigh gap will magically appear. And if it’s any consolation, by the time you lose the stubborn fat on your inner and outer thighs and hips, the rest of your body will look absolutely amazing.
Having said all this, it would be irresponsible for me to advocate lowering your body fat into the dangerously unhealthy range, typically in the single digits for women, to achieve this look and therefore I obviously do not recommend that you do. That being said, I repeat, a major factor in whether or not you can get the aesthetic look of either an ever so slight part between your legs or a wider gap is based on the fat on the inner part of your thighs combined with your bone structure, so if you find your body fat getting too low for your taste through natural means, my chapter on outside hacks will be right up your alley. That’s right, I’ve made sure ‘The Thigh Gap’ covers all the bases.
Naturally, you may be wondering just how lean or what weight you will need to be to reveal the results you want. Unfortunately, I cannot say because every woman is different. You may see excellent results once their body fat lowers to the 14% – 18% range. Meanwhile, some of you shorter and very petite girls/women may need to go a little lower before the gap makes an appearance. If you have wider set hips, it will not be necessary to get as lean as those with narrow hips because the gap will be apparent even with a little more fat padding due to your bone structure.
The main takeaway is fat is the common denominator and primary determinant of a thigh gap. Both narrow and wider hipped women can achieve this aesthetic with varying degrees of effort based on their goals. Should a woman with narrow set hips have the fat along the inner part of her thighs surgically removed via liposuction, it would result in the effect of a thigh gap, just as the narrow hipped woman who diets to get her body fat low enough that the fat from this part of the body melts off.
This is what is meant when I say that anyone can get a thigh gap. It may not be as wide as someone with the genetic predisposition, but if you shed enough of the fat, you will notice that your legs won’t rub or touch when standing in a comfortable stance or walking, and there will be a space, albeit small if you have narrower hips, in between your legs. I say all of that to say, narrow hipped women, don’t give up hope like the ‘experts’ advise you to!
The only reason you don’t see more women leaning out this area of the body without struggling is not because women are incapable of doing so, but because interestingly enough, hardly anyone is offering the real solutions to the problem. I have no idea why this is, but I suppose it has something to do with the dearth of fitness experts being men and their training goals and problem areas being starkly different to women. I’d even venture to say most of the fitness ‘experts’ are unwaveringly focused on building up the body, and gaining more muscle as opposed to contouring it and dare I say, losing some muscle. In plain terms, they just don’t understand.
Luckily, I do. I know all too well how frustrating it can be to have a legitimate problem and follow bad advice that only exacerbates it, or seek the answers only to find yourself being told that you should want “strong” legs and that “muscular thighs” are sexy. On top of that, it seems that any advice seeking for actually wanting to deliberately lose muscle is met with chastisement. Perhaps the incredulous idea that women have brains and are entitled to decide for ourselves how we want to look will squarely hit these trainers in the jaw when they start losing business for shabby results. I will gladly listen and take the business they clearly do not deserve.
Based on my clients and what I read on the message boards, I would purport that the majority of women don’t want bulky, thick legs or find them sexy or appealing. Given the chance to slim out this trouble area, even if a wide gap is not achieved, they would be perfectly content. The good news is that I understand your frustrations and the physique you are trying to sculpt, so you can rest comfortably following my directions. Yes, I know for a fact that everyone is capable of thinning out their inner and outer thighs.
IDENTIFYING YOUR UNIQUE PROBLEM
The first thing we need to do is figure out your unique problem so that we can address it appropriately. The two roadblocks to achieving the thigh gap are, as we’ve touched upon, fat (adipose tissue), and to a lesser degree muscle. Fat takes up a huge amount of mass, while muscles, especially if there is a large layer of fat over them, creates a thick, bulging look that is not conducive to the thigh gap.
Thus, to effectively slim down your thighs you are going to want to focus first on one thing, either losing fat, or losing muscle in the thigh region. There are different techniques one should follow depending on the immediate goal you are trying to achieve. Which applies to you? Let’s find out now.
Whether or not you have hips that are wide set or narrow, you may have noticed that the inner, and possibly outer, part of your thigh is squishy to the touch and takes up a lot of mass. All too often, the first conclusion many women come to when they are unhappy with the size or all around mass of their thighs and legs, known as the circumference, is that they have too much muscle. Rarely is that the real cause of their unhappiness. This test will determine if the bulk of the mass on your thigh that is preventing you from having slender legs are due to fat or muscle.
First, extend your leg and stiffen or tighten your muscles. Pinch all around the area of your thigh including the upper, middle, sides, back and lower. If you are able to gather a lot of skin in between your fingers relatively easily, fat is the culprit. If you’re still not sure, flick that area and if it jiggles loosely and moves around easily, again fat is your problem. If you are still not convinced, if you have a lot of stomach fat and cannot see the cuts in your abs, or if you fold your arms at the elbow at a ninety degree angle and your bat wings wiggle and jiggle, you don’t need to focus so much on how to lose muscle but on how to target your body fat.
We’ve established your issue is having too many fat cells and adipose tissue, so I’m sure you want to know just how you should go about obliterating those fat cells. Diet is going to be a big part of your journey to a thigh gap, and I will have some great tips in the diet section of the book for you. The way you train will also be of major importance, especially if you have been training the wrong way or haven’t been training at all because you’ve been trying to avoid building up more leg muscles, a common ideology and practice typically among beginners and novices.
Your main plan of action will be to reduce your overall body fat first through copious amounts of the right cardio and some resistance training, adopt a diet plan which will put you in a Calorie deficit (a Calorie is a unit of energy contained in our food that provides fuel for our muscles), and then, once the fat starts melting off revealing your muscles you can further stretch and tone the muscle underneath if you so desire.
I have to caution you against the prevalent mistake of endless leg-lifts and floor work where you focus on resistance training your legs because doing so will not be enough exertion of energy to get your heart rate up, which is non-negotiable when it comes to burning body fat. Doing this will only lead to the build up of muscles underneath the stubborn fat and that muscle will push the fat out further creating bulky, swollen looking legs.
The other thigh gap inhibitor for women, a major source of contention, is an over development of leg muscles. This is typically a problem in women who dabble in bodybuilding, have played sports that are taxing on the leg muscles, like soccer or gymnastics, or log a lot of hours in the gym using heavy weighs and resistance training with very little to no cardio. These women are already pretty fit by most people’s standards with average to below average body fat, but despite their active lifestyle, find their hips and thighs proportionally out of sync with their upper body.
Muscular thighs are represented by an overdevelopment of (1) the hamstrings, which are the muscles at the back of the thighs that may have a prominent curve definition) and/or (2) the quadriceps, which are four large muscles at the front of the thigh.
These areas, especially when covered with fat, create a look that most women want to avoid due to its masculine like appearance as well as other negative byproducts, such as not being able to fit trendy styles of clothing with the prime example being the skinny jean. Particularly when it comes to jeans, while fatty thighs can be squeezed into the popular fabric, muscles are more compact and do not move as easily. Thus, women who are battling muscular legs find themselves having to purchase bigger jean sizes that may fit the thigh area and leave a lot of room in the waist or are baggy in the groin. Needless to say, this is not a good look.
If you want to be sure muscular thighs are your problem, tense your leg and try to pinch at the skin all around the thigh region, including the quads, back of the thighs and outer thighs. If you are not able to pinch or jiggle a lot of skin, then you can safely determine that muscular thighs is your issues. Also, if you tense your legs and a very defined curvature can be seen in your quadriceps and hamstrings, it is likely that you will want to focus on losing the muscles in your legs primarily, and put fat loss in the back seat.
To reduce muscular thighs and legs, you will have to drastically reduce the lower body resistance work and strain you may be used to putting your legs through when working out and opt to do other forms of exercise. It may be hard to resist the urge to cut back on training, especially when you get a high from feeling the burn in your legs, but you will have to do it to get your desired result.
If you are addicted to working out, like me, you may be wondering what you are supposed to do to really feel like you’ve gotten a proper workout? After all some of the bodies largest muscles are in the lower body and account for the biggest opportunity to burn calories. I will delve deeper in the upcoming chapters, but you don’t have to worry about your workouts becoming so easy they become ineffective.
You will still be working out and maintaining your muscles, but in other areas of the body. Doing so will keep your metabolism humming along nicely. You will also still be incorporating lower bodywork in your workouts to burn extra Calories, however the moves will be more geared towards cardiovascular training and less hypertrophic. Finally, your main focus will be on your diet and what you consume after your workout to prevent anabolism (muscles getting bigger) and encourage catabolism (muscles getting smaller).