When it comes to different physique goals, it seems that there is an equal split between people who are looking to slim down and get thinner thighs and people who are looking to get bigger thighs.
If you have dealt with chronically skinny legs most of your life, you are likely in the camp that is interested in how to get thicker thighs or how to get bigger thighs.
The good news is that there are plenty of exercises that can help you bulk up your legs and get stronger, thicker thighs.
In this article, we will provide step-by-step instructions for the best exercises for how to get thicker thighs as well as programming instructions for putting together a workout for bigger thighs.
We will also provide some additional tips to support muscle growth with your thick thighs workouts to help transform skinny legs into meaty thighs.
We will cover the following:
- How to Get Thicker Thighs
- The 5 Best Exercises for Bigger Thighs
Let’s dive in!
How to Get Thicker Thighs
In addition to choosing the best exercises for how to get bigger thighs, it is important to program your workouts for thick thighs in ways that will optimize muscle growth (hypertrophy).
The best exercises for thick thighs are those that target the muscle groups in the thighs.
The primary muscles that run down the anterior or front side of the thighs are the quadriceps, known as the quads, and the hamstrings on the back of the thighs.The quads are responsible for hip flexion and knee extension, so having strong quads will help you run faster, jump higher, and squat heavier weights.
The hamstrings muscle group consists of three muscles—the semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and biceps femoris—and the hamstrings extend the leg at the hip, helping straighten your leg behind your body and flex or bend the knee.
In addition to the quads and hamstrings, workouts for bigger thighs should include exercises that target the adductors, which are the muscles that run along the inner thighs and help bring the leg toward the midline of the body after it has been swung out to the side.
The adductors in the inner thighs include the adductor magnus, adductor brevis, and adductor longus, along with the pectineus.
The muscles on the outer thighs are relatively slender, even when you have thick thighs.
The tensor fascia latae runs alongside the outer thigh and is covered by the thick band of fibrous connective tissue known as the iliotibial band, which is not a muscle.
We will provide step-by-step instructions for some of the best exercises for thicker thighs below, but your thick thighs workouts should focus primarily on compound exercises.
Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that involve several muscle groups working together.
Research suggests that compound exercises tend to be most effective at triggering muscle growth or hypertrophy.
Adding isolation exercises (which are those that involve moving a single joint and primarily targeting a single muscle group) can also be added to hypertrophy workouts to support muscle gains.
Additionally, it is important to perform your thick thighs workouts with enough training volume to build muscle.
For each workout for bigger thighs, strive to perform three sets of each exercise. Use a weight that is about 65 to 85% of your one repetition maximum (1RM) for 8-12 reps per set.
If you can perform more than 12 reps in a set with proper form before needing a break, you need to increase the weight that you are using.
Make sure that you vary the exercises you are performing each workout for thick thighs, either by changing the exercises altogether or using different types of resistance (dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, cables, weight machines, etc.) and different weights and reps ranges.
For example, in one of your thick thigh workouts per week, you might use a weight that corresponds to 85% of your 1RM for 8 reps.
Then, during a separate thigh mass workout in the week, you might use a slightly lighter weight that is closer to 65% of your 1RM, but you perform 12 reps per set per exercise.
Depending on your overall workout routine and the other types of exercises you perform during the week, add 2 to 3 leg workouts for mass per week.
Doing your workouts for thick thighs once a week will likely not be enough of a training stimulus to induce significant muscle growth.
Also note that when you’re trying to get bigger legs, it’s important that you’re getting in enough total calories as well as enough protein, particularly after your workouts.
Most evidence suggests you need to be in a caloric surplus to build muscle, typically suggested to be about 10% above your total daily energy expenditure.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that athletes consume at least 1.2–2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
The 5 Best Exercises for Bigger Thighs
Here are some of the best exercises for bigger thighs:
#1: Barbell Back Squats
The back squat is a foundational leg exercise for mass and strength.
Here is how to do a back squat:
- Stand inside the squat rack with your feet about shoulder-width apart, chest up, shoulders down, and abs engaged, holding the barbell along your upper traps and shoulders.
- Bend your knees and sit your hips back as far as possible as you squat down. Make sure that your knees do not travel forward beyond your toes.
- When your thighs are parallel to the floor, and your knees are bent to 90°, pause at the bottom position of the squat and then press powerfully through your heels to stand all the way back up.
#2: Hack Squats
The hack squat is a great exercise for thicker thighs because the fixed plane of motion allows you to lift heavier loads than barbell squats.
Here are the steps for this thigh workout exercise:
- Stand on the platform of the hack squat machine with good squat posture and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Sit your hips back as you bend your knees, slowly lowering your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are bent to 90°.
- Explode through your heels to stand all the way back up.
#3: Leg Press
The leg press is one of the best quad hypertrophy exercises because the fixed plane allows you to lift super loads, which in turn leads to a greater muscle-building stimulus for your quads and glutes.
Plus, because you are seated and pressing the load from the weight stack, your spine isn’t loaded, which can prevent back pain.
Here are the steps for this quad muscle hypertrophy exercise:
- Lie back on the leg press machine with your head and back fully supported, gripping the handles. Your knees should be bent to 90 degrees, and your feet up on the platform a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Explosively press through your heels to extend your legs without fully locking out your knees.
- Bend your knees to return to the starting position slowly.
#4: Bulgarian Split Squats
The Bulgarian split squat is one of the best exercises for thicker thighs and increasing leg mass.
Here are the steps:
- Stand facing away from a weight bench with your feet staggered so that the toes of one foot are back behind you on the bench and your front foot is far enough forward that when you drop into a lunge, your front knee does not extend beyond your toes.
- Hold dumbbells down at your sides or a barbell across your upper traps.
- Bend your knees to drop down into a split squat until the thigh of your front leg is parallel to the ground.
- Pause for 2-3 seconds.
- Explode through your heel to return to the standing position.
- Complete all of your reps and then switch sides.
#5: Barbell Deadlifts
Workouts for thicker thighs should also include exercises for the posterior chain muscles, including the hamstrings.
Barbell deadlifts are one of the best exercises for the hamstrings and glutes.
Here are the steps:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and the bar over your midfoot.
- Squat down and grab the bar with your hands just outside hip-width while keeping your back straight and chest up.
- Engage your hamstrings and glutes to stand back up, pulling the bar up in front of your shins.
- Sit your hips back again to slowly lower the bar back to the floor.
For more information about building muscle and transforming your body, check out our guide for how to get rid of skinny arms here.