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How to Get Rid of Saddlebags: Achieve Sleeker Silhouette with These Tips

7 min read
David J. Sautter post Reviewer David J. Sautter post Reviewer
Verified by David J. Sautter
NASM Personal Trainer, NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist, ACE Sports Conditioning Specialist, NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist

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If you store fat around your hips, thighs, and stomach, you might be hoping to learn how to get rid of saddlebags and achieve a sleeker physique. 

What are commonly referred to as “saddlebags” are simply fat deposits that sit along the outsides of your thighs. As a result, this can make your legs appear wider.

This is more common for women than men (sorry, ladies), but despite the belief that you can target and eliminate pockets of fat, the process isn’t that simple. 

Below, we cover the reasons you might develop saddlebags, exercises to try, and five tips for how to get rid of saddlebags on your thighs.

What Causes Saddlebags?

Like with all weight gain, people accumulate and deposit fat differently. 

Some will notice excess fat storage around the stomach, while others — and more likely women — may see stubborn fat on the hips and thighs, called saddlebags.

Genetics play a role, alongside diet and lifestyle factors like sleep quality and stress levels. 

In fact, one study found a direct link between those with high cortisol levels and higher abdominal fat storage. [1] 

And women will notice this much more than men, partly down to female anatomy and hormones like estrogen. 

How to Get Rid of Saddlebags

Sadly, you can’t spot-reduce fat, so it’s highly unlikely that those seeking how to get rid of saddlebags will find a magic cure. 

However, a mix of steady-state cardio and weight training could help build lean muscle mass and reduce fat overall, helping to reduce the appearance of saddlebag legs. 

If you store fat easily, also consider lifestyle factors that can be controlled, like eating a varied and balanced diet, taking a daily walk, and getting enough sleep each night; this is especially true as we get older and our metabolisms begin to slow down. 

Here are a few tips to help get rid of saddlebags.

Aim to Lose Weight

As we mentioned above, weight loss (particularly fat loss) could improve the look of saddlebags. 

Fat loss typically occurs when you’re in a calorie deficit, meaning you consume fewer calories than you burn in a day. 

Resistance training using weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, gym machines, barbells and resistance bands could help build leg muscle in your thighs, hamstrings and glutes and reduce the appearance of saddlebag legs.

If you’re unsure how to get started, a reliable calorie calculator can make recommendations based on biological and lifestyle factors to help you lose weight. 

Prioritize Nutritious Diet

Nutrition doesn’t need to be complicated. We recommend focusing on three important things:

  • Increasing protein intake
  • Eating complex carbohydrates
  • Consuming healthy fats.

Protein provides the building blocks for muscle growth and repair and includes lean meats, eggs, fish and tofu, for example. Add protein to each meal and stick to natural sources, only adding protein supplements to top up.

Carbs are not the enemy. They provide the main fuel source the body uses during exercise! But prioritise complex carbohydrates like oats, sweet potatoes, and whole grains. Here are 9 good carbs for muscle building.

Also, remember to:

  • Drink plenty of water 
  • Limit processed and sugary foods and drinks
  • Manage alcohol intake
  • Include fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Weight loss should be sustainable, so try not to buy into fast diets or extreme restrictions.

Adopt Cardio or HIIT Workouts

Daily activities such as cardio and HIIT workouts aid fat loss and improve the look of saddlebag legs. Both help burn calories and strengthen your legs, plus lean muscle mass is more metabolically active than fat. 

Start small by including daily walks into your routine. We highly recommend finding a walking buddy to keep yourself accountable.

If the gym isn’t for you, consider exercises like swimming, hiking, cycling, or running.

High-intensity interval training focuses on sprint-like exercises to ramp up the heart rate and calorie burning.

HIIT also temporarily supercharges the afterburn effect of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). This is when your body consumes more oxygen than usual post-workout, which can increase your metabolic rate. 

You can also learn more about how to lose weight in the thighs and butt here.

Try Targeted Exercises

Targeted lower-body exercises help strengthen your legs and create muscle tone. Building strength and muscle could reduce saddlebags and target saddlebag fat. These include:

  • Fire Hydrant
  • Curtsy Lunge
  • Squat with Side Lift
  • Clamshell
  • Side Plank with Leg Circles
  • Glute Bridge with Leg Abductions

Remember, cardio and heavy weight lifting can burn calories and target fat loss, while strength exercises help build strength and muscle in the area. 

Even 30 minutes of walking a day alongside several resistance sessions per week could improve the look of saddlebags. 

Above all, consistency is key! So try to build a regular and varied exercise routine and plenty of movement throughout your day.

If Nothing Works, Consider Treatments

We live in an age where cosmetic procedures are becoming more common and accessible. There are several effective routes you can take, such as liposuction, CoolSculpting, EmSculpt, and more. 

Procedures are available at a wide range of clinics and differ from clinic to clinic. Remember to consult your physician or a qualified medical professional before seeking treatments, and do your research on the treatment and clinic before undertaking any cosmetic treatments. 


What Is the Main Cause of Saddlebags?

Saddlebags are fat deposits mainly caused by genetics, hormones, and anatomy. 

Lifestyle choices that increase fat storage also play a part, including high stress levels, a lack of sleep, and a poor diet. 

Women are more likely to experience fat accumulation than men in the hip, buttock, thigh and abdominal areas. 

Is It Possible to Get Rid of Saddlebags?

Yes, it is possible to get rid of saddlebags, which are fat deposits on the outer thighs. 

However, spot-reducing fat isn’t feasible. 

The most effective approach involves overall weight loss, particularly fat loss, achieved through a calorie deficit where you consume fewer calories than you burn. 

Incorporating resistance training can help build leg muscle, reducing the appearance of saddlebags.

What Is The Most Effective Treatment for Saddlebags?

The most effective treatment for saddlebags involves a combination of lifestyle changes and targeted exercises. 

A balanced diet rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats supports weight loss and muscle growth. Regular cardio or HIIT workouts aid in fat loss and leg strengthening. 

If these strategies don’t work, cosmetic procedures like liposuction or CoolSculpting could be considered, under professional guidance.

Does Running Help Get Rid of Saddlebags?

Running, cardio, and HIIT could all burn calories and encourage weight loss alongside a balanced diet. 

If you can, incorporate these methods and weight training into a regular and consistent routine, and take daily walks to help keep your metabolism ticking over.

Running builds leg muscle, burns calories, and can be an effective tool for strength-building and weight loss. 

Bottom Line

If your goal is to learn how to get rid of saddlebags, here’s a summary:

  • Saddlebags are deposits of fat that sit along the outer thighs and occur more often in women than men.
  • Saddlebag legs are mainly caused by genetics and anatomy, like a wider pelvis or hormones like estrogen.
  • You cannot spot-reduce fat but could aim to lose weight and strengthen your legs to improve the look of saddlebags.
  • Cardio and HIIT, like walking, running, hiking, and cycling, all burn calories and support sustainable weight loss.
  • Strength exercises like lunges, squats, and glute bridges could reduce the look of saddlebags, build strength, and improve lean muscle mass.
  • Make sure to get enough sleep, manage stress levels (where you can), and eat a balanced diet full of proteins, fats, and complex carbs to support sustainable weight loss while building strength.

You can also find the ultimate exercise guide to building the inner thighs here to help achieve a well-balanced lower body.

Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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