Women commonly aspire to have a thigh gap- that gap between the inner thighs that some women have when standing up straight with their knees touching. Although many find this particular feature attractive and feminine- the bad news is that besides to do with the amount of fat, this gap is highly genetic and associated with your body frame, pelvis bone structure, the width of your hips and the length of your connective tissue in the thigh.
The thigh gap may not be a sign of how to fit you are, girls that don't train might naturally have a thigh gap due to their body type or vice versa. So scratch 'to get a thigh gap' off your list of 'fitness' goals, stop chasing rainbows and focus on something more attainable.
Here are 3 reasons of how the thigh gap is genetic:
1. Body type
There are three different intermediates of body types,or 'somatotypes';
- The Ectomorphic somatotype- slim & lightly muscled, can find it hard to gain muscle
- The Mesomorphic somatotype- muscular, loose fat easy
- The Endomorphic somatotype- round & soft, hold on to fat easily 1.
Depending on your body type, you may store fat or muscle better than others or be naturally thin. Some bodies have a better genetic potential to possess a thigh gap.
2. Pelvis bone structure and width of hips
There are four intermediates of the pelvis bone for women with the Gynaecoid pelvis variant being the most common one, representing about 50% of women 3. The width of the hip bone sockets and the angle your pelvis bone and hip bones are connected at- directly affect the width between your hips and the potential to have a thigh gap. The greater width the pelvis is- the larger space will be in between the hips.
3. Lenght of the connective tissue
Depending on where the connective tissue connects to on the thigh and the length of it- the thigh gap will show more or less easily. A shorter connective tissue between hip and pelvis, the smaller the gap between the hips 2.
If you have big thighs- look at the bright side
Having a bit larger thighs may not necessarily be a bad thing. Fat in the lower body area has actually been found to have a protective role. In a Danish study conducted over 12.5 years on 2,816 men and women ages 35 to 65, researchers tracked that those with big thighs showed a smaller risk of getting heart disease and premature death than those with thin thighs, 1.
It is also believed by some scientists that lower body fat assists in lowering blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity as it assists in the metabolism of reducing LDL- the bad cholesterol and raising levels of HDL- the good cholesterol, 1.. These studies could explain why women, who naturally have more stored fat in the lower body region, develop diabetes at a higher body mass index than men, who tend to store fat in the abdominal region1..
Ok - so the gap is mostly genetic and blablabla...But how do I reduce inner thigh fat?
Understand that you cannot spot reduce fat on your body. If you don't like your inner thigh fat or stomach fat this won't magically disappear by training on the adductor machine or doing sit-ups a few times per week. Although these types of exercises are great for strengthening and toning these muscles, the actual fat loss will occur from all over your body, so remember to keep your training versatile and include exercises like squats and deadlifts that engage multiple muscles and muscle groups. The more muscles you recruit in your workouts- the more calories you will burn.
When it comes to fat loss it may feel like it's your boobs that volunteer to be eliminated first... The inner thigh fat and your stomach fat is often more stubborn and tends to be the fat that leaves last and comes back first.
Keeping in mind that you can't spot reduce your fat, here are 6 exercises that are great for strengthening and toning your inner thigh muscles:
1. Glider side lunges- This exercise can be accomplished with an actual gliding disk, towel on the floor or plastic lid on a carpet. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with one of your feet on your slider. Whilst keeping your hands by your chest to keep balanced- slowly bend the leg without the slider into a squat position and slide the other leg to the side. Most of your weight will remain in the stable leg. Squeeze the sliding leg back whilst moving back to a standing position.
2. Side lunges- Side lunges target your hips, glutes, inner and outer thighs. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a large step to the side with one foot, still pointing your toes forward and maintaining a straight posture, upright torso, shoulders aligned and not leaning. Bend that leg into a squat whilst extending your other leg. Push back and repeat to the other side.
3. Scissor legs plank- Lay in a plank position with each foot on a disk/towel on the floor or plastic lid on carpet etc. Slide your feet widely apart and then squeeze your inner thighs to slide your feet back together;
4. Side-lying double leg lifts- Lay on your side with your feet together. Lift your legs to about 5 cm or a little more off the ground and then return down. You'll work the inner thighs of both legs while also targeting the outer thighs and obliques.
5. Dumbbell Sumo squats/ Plié squats- Feet wide apart with toes pointing out. Hold firmly on to one dumbbell with both hands by your torso, pulling your shoulder blades back and lifting your torso upwards. Bend your knees into a squat and return up. Sumo squats target your quadriceps and glutes and focus on your inner thigh when doing this move to work this area.
6. Narrow squats- Keep your legs together and squat as if you were about to sit down on a chair. Move back up. This squat variation targets your inner thighs, inner quads, and inner hamstrings and can also be done with weights or barbell to push yourself.
Conclusion - tone your legs but don't mind the gap!