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9 Best Strength Exercises for Women To Lose 'Saddlebag' Fat

Melt your saddlebags and achieve a lower-body sculpt with these strength exercises.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

"Saddlebag" fat, those stubborn pockets of fat around the hips and thighs, can be a common concern for many women. Fortunately, incorporating strength exercises into your fitness routine can help you target and tone these trouble areas. In this article, we'll explore nine of the best strength exercises for women to lose saddlebag fat.

Adding strength training to your workouts can be an effective way to reduce saddlebag fat, ultimately helping you achieve a more toned and shapely lower body. Remember to pair these exercises with a well-balanced diet, healthy lifestyle habits, sufficient sleep, and regular cardiovascular workouts for the best results.

Here are the nine best strength exercises I recommend to my female clients who are looking to tone and sculpt their outer thighs. Keep reading to learn all about them, and when you're done, check out these 10 Easy Kettlebell Exercises for Women To Melt Belly Flab for more fitness inspiration.

Side-Lying Leg Lifts

lateral leg raises
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Side-lying leg lifts are particularly beneficial for women who aim to lose saddlebag fat because the added resistance helps to further tone and sculpt the outer thigh and hip muscles, effectively reducing fat deposits in these trouble areas. The exercise targets specific problem spots while also improving overall muscle definition and strength.

Lie on your side with your legs straight. Lift your top leg as high as you can without bending your knee. Lower it back down. Perform three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions on each side.

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Sumo Squats

plie sumo squats
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Sumo squats target the inner and outer thigh muscles, areas commonly affected by this type of fat accumulation. By strengthening and toning these muscles, sumo squats help lessen the appearance of saddlebags, leading to a more sculpted and balanced lower body. Sumo squats can be performed holding a dumbbell or plate for added resistance.

Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart and your toes pointed out. Bend your knees and lower your body, keeping your back straight. Rise back up to the starting position. Do three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

Glute Bridges with Leg Lifts

single-leg glute bridge hip extension
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Glute bridges with leg lifts engage the glute muscles, helping to lift and tone the buttocks, which can improve the overall appearance of the hips and thighs. The added leg lift in this exercise targets the outer thighs and hip muscles, directly addressing the saddlebag area for a more sculpted and firmer lower body.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips off the ground. Extend one leg straight while keeping the other foot on the floor. Lower your hips, then raise them again. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions on each side.

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Lunges

front lunge exercise
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Lunges target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, helping to trim and tone the thighs and hips, where saddlebag fat tends to accumulate on women. Additionally, lunges engage multiple muscle groups, which boosts metabolism and contributes to fat reduction in those trouble areas.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a step forward with one leg, and lower your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Push back up and return to the starting position. Do three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions on each leg.

Fire Hydrant Hip Abduction

illustration of woman doing fire hydrant exercise
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Fire hydrant exercises specifically target the outer thighs and hip muscles, addressing the areas where saddlebag fat tends to accumulate. By strengthening and toning these muscles, fire hydrants aid in addressing unwanted saddlebag fat.

Start on your hands and knees. Lift one leg out to the side while keeping your knee bent. Lower your leg back down. Perform three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions on each side.

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Bulgarian Split Squats

Bulgarian split squat exercises for a round butt
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Bulgarian split squats effectively engage the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, which are key muscle groups in the thigh and hip area. For women, strengthening these muscles can help with a solid lower-body sculpt.

Stand a few feet in front of a bench with one foot behind you on the bench. Lower your back knee toward the ground. Push back up to the starting position. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions on each leg.

Step-Ups

illustration of step-ups
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Step-ups engage the quadriceps and glutes, helping to trim and tone the thighs. By targeting these specific muscle groups, step-ups contribute to overall fat burning in the lower body, aiding in the reduction of fat on the outer thighs.

Stand in front of a sturdy bench or step. Step up onto the bench with one leg, and bring the other knee up. Step back down to the starting position. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions on each leg.

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Deadlifts

barbell deadlift
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Deadlifts target multiple muscle groups, including the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, leading to increased muscle mass and improved overall fat-burning potential. Additionally, the compound nature of the deadlift movement engages the entire body, promoting a more sculpted physique and effectively reducing the appearance of saddlebag fat.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a barbell or dumbbells in front of your thighs. Bend at the hips, keeping your back straight. Stand back up. Do three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

Clamshells

clamshell exercise
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Clamshells are particularly beneficial as they target the outer thigh muscles, which is the area where saddlebags tend to accumulate. By strengthening and toning these muscles, this exercise can help reduce the amount of fat stored in the area.

Lie on your side with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Press the top knee toward the ceiling.
Lower it back down. Do three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions on each side.

Tyler Read
Tyler Read is a personal trainer and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 15 years. Read more about Tyler