Fat Knees And Thighs: Tricks To Reduce Knee Fat and Thigh Fat

If you’ve been trying to reduce your knee fat and nothing seems to be working, I know how you feel.  Fat knees are incredibly frustrating because you don’t have muscle on the front of your knee (though you do have muscle above, below, and behind your knees).

For anyone who has tried to tackle this problem, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some questions that point you in the right direction

  1. What kind of specific weight loss exercises are best to fight the flab in problem areas?
  2. How much does fitness play into reducing fat in stubborn areas, and how much does weight loss nutrition play into it?
  3. Are there any other options or fat loss tools and resources that can help with spot fat reduction?
  4. Can knee liposuction effectively remove fat from my knees?

You likely have more questions. I’ve tried to answer other frequently asked questions near the end of this post. If I didn’t answer a specific question you have about fat knees, just ask in the comments. I will try to share what I’ve learned. Also, if you have any tips, I and this blog’s readers would love to hear them, so please share knee-fat tips too!

After reading through some of my articles, putting together an action plan, and putting in some genuine effort, I believe you can start to see some results within a few weeks and really notice them after a few months. There are, however, no quick, instant fixes. Focus on a process, and the results will come.

To keep your knees and thighs toned, you’ll probably need to make these exercises a more regular habit, along with a healthier diet and lifestyle.

Fat Knees And Thighs
Fat knees, thighs, calves, and fat ankles can all be pesky problem areas… But it is possible to lose fat from all four! You just need to follow a plan.

Incorporate the following activities into your weekly workout routine:

Walking (Do this as fast as you can so you work up a bit of sweat and get your heart rate up a bit.).  (You should be slightly short of breath.)

If you have some hills nearby or long flights of stairs, that will work even better!

When this becomes easier for you, try walking up a grass hill backward; this will force your lower thigh muscles (just above the knees) to really work hard.  This will strengthen the lower parts of your quadriceps, which will help give this area a more toned look.

Jogging: Once you can easily walk fast without getting too winded, then you should start jogging.

Keep trying to jog a little bit longer each time you put your feet on pavement or trail.  Even if it is only 10 additional seconds for each jogging session, keep aiming to increase your time spent jogging.  You can even get a heart rate monitor and jog at a speed that keeps your heart rate in a “fat-burning” zone.

Sprinting: Sprinting is a high-intensity activity and has additional benefits that lower-intensity distance activities like walking and jogging do not.

For example, high-intensity sprints have been shown to release growth hormone, which helps burn fat for fuel, among many other health benefits.

Also, keep in mind the physiques that sprinters have compared to marathon runners. Or think about the physiques of athletes whose sports require a lot of explosive short-distance running compared to endurance athletes in biking, track and field, and triathlons.

Sprinters often appear to be in much better shape because this high-intensity training results in not only fat loss but also an increase in muscle.  This is ideal for creating sexier knees and thighs!

The ultimate fat loss exercise
Sprinters burn fat much faster and have stronger appearances than ultra-distance runners.

Cycling: Cycle in the gym or on the streets.  Cycling seems to put more focus and stress on your upper legs than running and walking may.

If you really want to get a nice burn, increase the resistance on your bike or cycle machine and slow the speed if you have to.  If you are using a real bike, you can put it on the most difficult gear, and you can kick it up a notch even further by not allowing yourself to sit on the seat and just pedal standing up.

If you decide to try this out for a minute or two, you are really going to start to feel the burn in your quads and get more winded than usual.

When you need a break, just sit back down and keep pedaling until you can hit it hard again.  When you cycle like this, you can really do wonders for your fat knees and thighs.

No Liquid Calories: Don’t drink calories!  Only drink fluids like water or tea.  If you’re a coffee drinker, try to limit it to 1 cup a day, and ideally take this prior to your workout.

Coffee acts as a stimulant that can help you work out harder, but it also releases cortisol (the stress hormone). Cortisol interferes with sleep and recovery.  Too much of it leads our bodies to store more fat.

Don’t drink any soda, juice, or milk either.  At least for the period while you are dieting.  It is recommended to greatly reduce or stop this altogether after your dieting period, since these all boost your blood sugar levels.

When you eat solid foods, you are often taking in fiber along with the other macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats), and the fiber helps to slow down the digestion of these other nutrients, leading to more steady blood sugar and insulin levels.  This translates to less fat storage in your body.

Avoid Whites: Eat no, or very little, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, and other starchy foods while cutting weight.  Most of these have been bleached and then “enriched” with vitamins because the bleach has depleted what little nutrients they had to begin with.

Just by cutting these out, you will begin to see the flab come off within 2–3 weeks.  If you do have to have rice, eat wild rice.  If you must have pasta, eat whole-grain pasta, and the same goes for bread.

For potatoes, sweet potatoes actually have quite a bit of fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.  And ideally, if you decide you must have one of these more starchy foods, have them approximately an hour after your workout so the calories go mostly back to refueling your muscles instead of “storage for later” adipose tissue.

Compound the other tips, and it should come off even faster, and you should begin to feel more energetic.

Although this is probably not what you want to hear, keep in mind that it is debatable whether or not you can spot-reduce fat without liposuction.  Most experts agree that your body will simply lose fat all around (systemically) in whatever way it is predisposed to, rather than focus its fat loss on one area.

For men, fat tends to accumulate primarily in the stomach area, and for women, fat often accumulates on their buttocks and upper legs.

Often times, your body will begin to lose fat in these areas where the most fat is accumulated first, and consequently, you may not readily notice your fat knees and thighs shedding their flab until after these areas that have larger fat deposits have been trimmed.

Stay Motivated With The Tricks The Pro’s Use

This can make it difficult to stay motivated, so it is always a good idea to take before and after pictures and take some measurements before you embark on your diet and workout program.

If you can track and see your progress, however small and incremental it may be, you will have a much easier time staying motivated. You should take your pictures using the same lighting and position every week or every 2 weeks to see results.

And remember, it is going to take you even longer to lose fat around your knees, so be patient. As far as taking measurements, just use a measuring tape or a string wrapped around your knee, and then measure the length of the string with a ruler.

Record your numbers and take more measurements throughout your diet and workout program. Also, keep in mind that you may be losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time.

If this is the case, you may not experience a change in the circumference of your measured areas, but hopefully you will notice a difference in tone from the pictures.

Barbell squats to burn leg fat
Squats will build and shape your leg muscles faster than any other leg exercise. Deadlifts are up there as well.

Resistance Trainingir?t=kneefcom 20&l=as2&o=1&a=0756605954 will serve to build stronger muscles and more tone and shape in your legs, which can make your fat knees much less noticeable, even without losing any fat!

Additionally, the more muscle you have and the more you work it, the more calories your body will burn throughout the day. Some bodybuilders have theorized that when you focus your workout on a specific area, it also forces more blood into that area, which consequently pushes more nutrients into the same area.  This may help a person lose fat in that specific area.

This is one of the best theories in favor of the possibility of spot reduction that I have heard.  It just makes sense.

You could also try adding thermogenic cream (Fat Burning Creamir?t=kneefcom 20&l=as2&o=1&a=B006NMY0MS) to the area you are trying to target prior to your workout to increase the blood flow to this area even more.  Or try experimenting with some of the fat-burning techniques that Tim Ferris talks about in his 4-Hour Body Book

For losing Knee Fat, Workouts with Weights Training < Workouts with Weight

How should you go about resistance training?  Focus on compound movements for your legs.  Do lots of squats, lunges, and dead lifts.  These are the most natural forms of movement, and they are the most efficient exercises you can perform because they work the most muscles at the same time.

They work your entire legs and glutes, as well as your midsection.  They definitely give you the most bang for your buck, and again, they will begin to build more shape in your legs and create better proportions, which will make any fat problem areas you have much less noticeable.

Check out the video below for a demonstration of the proper form for squats and lunges if you don’t already have that down.

Have any more tips, strategies, or thoughts on the matter?  Share them below and help everyone out!  We’re all in this together and we can help each other get rid of our fat knees and thighs by sharing our experiences with these stubborn problem areas :)


23 responses to “Fat Knees And Thighs: Tricks To Reduce Knee Fat and Thigh Fat”

  1. Emmie Avatar

    Hello my name is Emmie I am 13 and I have a problem on my knees. I am a thin person I’m not overweight and never have been. But what Im not understanding is my knees are chubby. Should I eat less calories? Because I would not mind eating less calories because I HATE working out haha. Anyway if you can help me with this issue that would be great.

    1. Emily Newman Avatar

      Emmie, you are still growing so I wouldn’t worry too much about some fat around your knees. It is probably better and more effective to focus on building and strengthening your muscles around your knees. That will give the area more form and shape, even if your fat amount remains the same. Focus on exercising your calves, hamstrings, and quads. Squats and calf raises are a great way to get started.

  2. jen Avatar

    I am 16 and I am worried that I am developing lipodema because my legs have been getting much larger while my upper body hasn’t gained hardly any weight. I have a much healthier diet than I used to (I used to eat a 2000 kcal pack of biscuits as a snack) and have a balanced diet, yet my legs have gained so much fat. I used to be a uk size 6/8 and now im lucky if I can squeeze into a large size 10. I think this because I have fat above my knees and my ankles are weirdly spongey, plus my thighs are massive compared to what they used to be, with a bumpy feel different to cellulite.

    1. Emily Newman Avatar

      Hi Jen, thanks for sharing. It’s really hard to diagnose anything over the internet. I would suggest you go see a Doctor. Trying to figure out potential health issues by reading articles online can be helpful, but it’s a tiny part of the equation. Going to a great Doctor and getting and reviewing labs or bloodwork with your Doctor can really fill in knowledge gaps and get you closer to figure out what the issue can be. It is GREAT to hear that you cut out your large calorie biscuit snack habit, though. That very well may have caused some of your weight gain. Keep in mind, it’ll take a significant amount of time and dedicated effort on part of eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods and intentionally exercising daily. Please keep up your new healthier habit, keep refinding them, adding more healthy habits, and go see a Doctor when you get the chance to. If nothing else, it will clear up any nagging wondering that you have.

  3. Deb Mullins Avatar
    Deb Mullins

    I am a slim healthy person, 5′ 6″ 135lbs with ugly fat knees, its the only fat on my body 22% BMI. Wish I could afford a surgical procedure but also hesitate doing it as I am other wise very healthy. I will be 60 this year and on no meds at all. Walk 30miles a wk, lift weights 20-30min day, do yoga 30-40min day. I exercise 7 days a week. Not sure what else to do besides bicycle maybe?

  4. Elizabeth Avatar


    I’m glad to have found this site. I consider myself to be quite fit and healthy and am a good body weight that I’m happy with. What I’m not happy with is the stubborn area above my knees that appear lumpy, saggy, and not very toned. It would be really nice to see some definition in my legs– specifically around my knees. I spend quite a bit of time exercising (yoga, jogging, HIIT classes, swimming, walking, cycling) each week. I follow a vegan diet that is low sugar, high fibre, full of whole grains, legumes, veggies and some fruits. Any tips on how to ramp up fat loss so I can finally see some results from my hard work? Thanks so much!

  5. Lilly Avatar

    The picture you’ve posted at the top is a picture of a woman who has a medical condition called lipedema, a common but rarely diagnosed disorder that mainly affect women. Women with legs that look like that are not going to lose fat on their legs with just exercise or diet. They need compression therapy and surgery to lose that fat. Please look up lipedema and talk to a specialist if your legs look like those pictured.

    1. Leslie Avatar

      That’s exactly right! Lipedema is a serious condition that goes undiagnosed in so many people!!! There are lots of therapeutic interventions that can help, and although exercise is important it will not help the abnormal fat storage & edema disorder that Lipedema is by itself! Lily is right, if you have legs like that you need to see a specialist….a Lymphologist, to be exact. Good ones are hard to find. Dr. Herbst at University of Arizona sees patients all over the world, and is the leading expert in this area. That picture is a classic presentation of lipedema, notice the feet are not affected at all, and there is a sort of “pantaloon” appearance to the lower legs.

    2. Dallas Avatar

      I agree. And unfortunately it’s a late stage of lipedema, also. I sure hope doctors specializing in lymph
      diseases find a cure for it because the compression therapy needs to be done daily and it’s very time

    3. Lorraine Avatar

      I just came across the photo of the lady with lipoedema and glad someone posted that this was what she had. I had stage 1 lipoedema and no diet or exercise will change this condition. I had my second operation, tumescent liposuction just 5 weeks ago and I am still in recovery mode but will need to tone up as all my muscle tone has disappeared

    4. rob smith Avatar
      rob smith

      Hi ,

      Just a comment re Lipidemia. You’re entirely correct the photo above is of a lady with this condition – I know quite a lot about it as it’s a genetic pre-disposed condition passed down through the family. It’s very common in women to the extent that 60% of them in some part have this condition . Only 1-3 % of men have it . I am one of those unfortunate men !
      I have always been sporty and have been a weight trainer for 10 years and it’s reasonable to say that I have a very “buff” torso as a result. However despite being super fit , a footballer etc I have always had no shape to my legs, ” tree trunk ” appearance and therefore always hidden them as much as possible from public view. My sister , mother and daughter have all had a tough ride because of it . So ladies I really get the pain you feel . So here’s the reality –
      You can improve your legs appearance and do something about them !
      Firstly however, you must accept a few things
      1. Accept you have a medical condition ( look up this disease and understand it )
      2. Accept the fat that is stored on your legs is a combination of easy fat to remove ( this is natural overeating ) and ” Lymphatic fat” ( this is caused by the disease and hugely hard to get rid of)
      3. Accept that before you start losing areas of fat you hate ( ie your legs and knees) the chances are your body will lose fat from everywhere else first , even a tiny piece of belly fat , before it even looks at your ‘Lymphatic fat” .
      4 Accept therefore that you really do have to totally “lean” yourself down and not just lose some pounds – I’m talking ” Strip to almost six pack”
      5. Accept you can’t do this through diet alone , no way, you must do cardio and you must improve definition on your legs and knee areas through the nasties like squats, leg presses etc etc
      6. Accept you must totally change your diet to the health plan suggested by this illness – thats ‘ No dairy” and no fats etc etc

      The last thing you must accept is that you will never get legs like your best mate ” jane” ! . Jane is just a lucky girl . You will,however, look really good in a pair of high heels and receive positive feed back !

      I’ve just completed 1 year of doing all of the above and my transformation is remarkable . I’m no ‘Ronaldo legs” still but I now look pretty good in shorts , a lot of muscle tone I never knew I had, and I get complimented on my entire body now and I love looking at them in the mirror . My daughters , after a year look absolutely amazing in heels and a dress too .

      It’s been really hard work , We saw no results for about 3 months BUT then really started noticing change once the ” normal fat” started stripping away .

      In conclusion, we are all given our own crosses to bear in life – ” get busy living or get busy dying” – that’s the bottom line – Good luck

      1. Emily Newman Avatar

        Rob, thanks a million for sharing your advice with us all. I agree with you about acceptance. We all need to have the grace to accept that we cannot change everything. However, we can make small progressive changes, and over time we will see some results. Maybe not the exact result that we are looking for, but some results are better than none! It is useful that you shared the time frame it took you (3 months) to see results that made you proud. That I think is a time frame that most people can and will stick with new habits. I’ve heard before that if you can do something for about a month you can turn it into a habit (generally speaking but I believe it depends on how long it took for you to develop the bad habit you are replacing). Thanks so much for sharing and helping everyone here with your advice and experience!

  6. VEB Avatar

    This is a great website! Here’s my problem. I believe the fat around my knees is due to arthritis. It’s inflammation, I believe, from all the sugar and white food products consumed over the years. It makes me look more knock kneed. With this condition, are you telling me that I still can reduce the fat around my knees?

    1. Emily Newman Avatar

      Veb, I’m glad you ejoy the website. I hope more people start sharing their advice (what works & what doesn’t) so we can all help each other out and benefit with health and beauty tips. I think you still can reduce fat from around your knee. Of course, if you think it is primarily from inflammation then you should try to address that issue first. If you can reduce the source of inflammation by cutting out sugar and white food products and replace those with antioxidant rich fruits like berries, oranges, pomegranates, etc you would see an improvement in this area. You could also start adding some anti-inflammatory superfoods like turmeric, ginger, green tea (matcha or plain), and others to kick it up a notch. I believe increasing your omega 3 fatty acid intake also greatly helps with reducing inflammation. If you improve your nutrition intake (remember everything you put in your mouth is either increasing or decreasing your health and vitality) you should see improvement. Add consistent exercise and you are on your way to a healthier and more tones body. Try to focus on exercises that really work the legs like some of those we have suggested here to put an emphasis on toning your quads and hamstrings to give your knees a slimmer look.

  7. Linda Ronan Avatar
    Linda Ronan

    I need to reduce the fat around my knee in prep for a knee replacement. In addition to a low carb diet are the cycling and stepping exercises still the most valid?


    1. Stubborn Fat Areas Avatar

      Those are great as well as walking backwards up a steep hill, preferably one with grass in case you fall. But if you take it slow you should be good. People may look at you funny but walking up a hill backwards has helped me really feel a nice burn around my quads and I think it also helps your calves so your working all the muscles around your knee.

      However if you are going to get surgery soon please check with your surgeon about how these may affect your knee. It’s not worth it to put even more stress on your knees if they are already injured. Hope that helps!

  8. Fliss Avatar

    Interesting. I sincerely wish I could do these things you suggest. Damaged my sacral iliac ligament at the gym in 2008 then meniscus ligament in my right knee 6 months later…. (Fibromyalgia since 1990 or before) Three major stomach surgeries 2011-13 then meniscus damage diagnosed in left knee after MRI. 2 weeks ago woke up with a very sore left knee and by the evening I couldn’t walk…. meniscus ligament in that knee has now gone.

    I have slim ankles and then suddenly at mid calf both legs become very large – at the knees and thighs very much like the photo you posted though I think mine are bigger. (My arms do the same) Is there ANYTHING you can suggest please?

    Many thanks

    1. Annie Avatar

      Fliss–I would suggest swimming. It is easy on the joints and it has the same great cardiovascular benefits as walking, jogging, and biking. You can also do water walking and running, as well as water weights. You can easily do lunges and squats in the shallow end of the pool, and you can use weights designed for pool use if you’re interested in increasing the amount of resistance (and thereby increasing fat burning).

      Depending on the severity of your knee pain, you may also try a recumbent bike (stationary or road) which allows you to sit back and takes the stress off the lower back. However, you still must cycle regularly, which may be too hard on your knees. Overall, swimming is an excellent choice. Check your local community center or gym to see if there are classes, or you can go to the pool and follow your own routine. Good luck!

      1. Stubborn Fat Areas Avatar

        Fliss, Annie posted some great suggestions with regards to looking into water based exercises. Swimming and weight training in the pool may be a great fit for you since your knees may not have full range of motion and cycling may aggravate pain in that area.

        An added bonus of being in water for an exercise is the fact that your body burns extra calories when you are in non-heated or lowly-heated water even if you are not exerting yourself much. Your body has to burn extra energy just to keep your temperature at the right levels so just being in water for about an hour actually burns quite a bit of calories.

        Tim Ferris mentions this in his book the 4-hour work week and how it can speed along fat loss, especially if the water is on the cooler end of the spectrum. Definitely something you should check out considering your prior injuries and surgeries.

        There are also tons of exercise band resistance exercises that you could easily do at home and are easy on the joints. Just search on Youtube exercise resistance band exercises for whatever body part you want to focus on.

        1. Margaret Avatar

          Thx so much . I had a rt knee replacement and now I found out I have to have a right hip replacement but I’m still in pain from the knee replacement I really appreciate these articles plus every woman who wants to help others

          1. Emily Newman Avatar

            Margaret, no problem. Hope you find some tips that help. I know it’s not easy after having surgery but there is always something that we can do to improve. Not get perfect, but improve. It’s the forward momentum that is important. Exercise band exercises may be a good way to help recover and work your muscles a bit. Please let us know if you have any tips or advice.

    2. Jeanne Avatar

      So sorry to read your story. Hope things have improved somewhat for you. PLEASE PLEASE research LIPOEDEMA/LYMPHOEDEMA sounds VERY MUCH like you have the condition. There are many good sites to guide you. I wish you the very best. Hope you get to find out all you need to know. There are support groups. In Australia LASS.org also American one etc.

      1. Leslie Avatar

        I second that!!! Multiple abdominal surgeries, with leg and arm swelling equals major red flag for lymphatic back-up at the very least! PLEASE do your research as Jeanne suggests. Find a lymphologist for a thorough work-up. There are definitely ways to improve this.
        The recommendation for water exercise is actually very good….a great way to move without extra pressure on your joints/spine, while also getting some “compression” for all that swelling.

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