The Best Exercise To Get Rid of SaddleBags Postpartum [The Truth]

Do you want to get rid of your saddlebags?

You’re in the right place.

This guide will teach you the best strategies to reduce the fat in the outer thighs.

Specifically, we will talk about ways to lose fat, and exercises to target your outer thighs.

Let’s dive right in.

get-rid-of-saddlebags-postpartum

Disclaimer

***READ FIRST***

Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. Please read my full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning I may receive a commission if you use them.

Ok, moving on.

What Are Saddle Bags?

Saddlebags are a colloquial term for extra fat that deposits in the outer thigh.

When seen from the front, this fat out-pouches to the side. This gives the appearance that you are carrying “saddle bags.”

Just like any other fat deposit in the body, this is an area that many women want to target and get rid off.

What Causes Saddlebags?

As far as we know it’s genetic. Women on average, carry more fat cells in the hips than men.

Why?

Because we carry pregnancies. Our hips need to be strong enough to support ourselves, plus a growing fetus.

So while you may think it’s unattractive, the ability to carry weight in the hips is the evolutionary gift that allows you to bear children!

Okay, That’s Great, But Why Can’t I Get Rid Of My Saddlebags?

The reason why its so hard to get rid of saddlebags is the same reason why it’s so hard to lose weight.

Because it requires you to lose fat.

And I’m sorry to tell you, but here’s the truth:

No amount of exercise in isolation will get rid of saddlebags.

In fact, research has consistently shown that you cannot target fat loss to a specific part of your body. In order to lose your saddlebags, you need to drop your overall body fat first.

Exercise will only be the icing on the cake after you have fixed your diet.

We will cover the best exercises to target this area later.

Can you get rid of saddlebags without surgery?

Yes, it is possible to get rid of saddlebags without surgery, but it’s not easy.

Remember, your genetics determine how and where your body stores fat. The absolute best way to decrease your body fat is through diet.

I have written an entire post on losing body fat post baby here.

With that said, saddlebags may be the last place where you lose fat. And there’s no way to predict this.

But diet and exercise will be your best shot.

So now, let’s go over the exercises that target the outer thighs.

What exercises get rid of saddlebags?

Remember- exercise alone will likely not be enough. Use these exercises in conjunction with a healthy diet to give yourself the best chance of success.

So what exercises should you do?

Resistance strength exercises!

The absolute best way to lose fat (and build muscle) is to increase the strength in your legs.

This is achieved through compound exercises.

Compound exercises train multiple muscle groups at once. As a result, you will be able to strengthen all of your leg muscles at once. The more muscles you use, the greater the resistance you can lift, and the more fat you can burn.

Here are the two best lower body compound exercises.

The Squat

The squat is the king (or queen) of all exercises. It trains the quads (front of the thighs), adductors (inner thighs), glutes (butt), and your core.

You can do the squat with resistance bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell which can be bought on Amazon. I recommend that you work your way up to a barbell squat, as this will allow you to build the most strength.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing outward about 30 degrees
  • Grab your choice of resistance (resistance band, kettlebell, dumbbell, or barbell) and position it by your chest (kettlebell), on your shoulders (dumbbells), or on your upper back (barbell).
  • Keeping your spine tall, inhale and brace your core
  • Begin squatting down by simultaneously bending at the hip and knees
  • Squat down slowly until your thighs are parallel to the floor
  • Let your knees track in the same direction as your toes and do not let them collapse inward
  • Pause at the bottom position for a 1 count
  • Return to the starting position by driving through your mid-foot and squeezing your glutes at the top of the exercise as you exhale
  • Do not let your heels come off the ground, and always keep your back flat and chest up
postpartum-squat

You should squat regularly, at least two times per week.

Do 8-12 repetitions per set at about a 7/10 in intensity to build muscle and strength in your legs.

I have also created a safe and effective postpartum squat challenge that you could do in the comfort of your home!

The Deadlift

The second best exercise for building strength in the lower body is the deadlift.

The deadlift strengthens the muscles that extend the hip. These include the hamstrings (back of the thigh), the glutes (your butt), as well as the muscles in your low back and core.

You can do the deadlift with dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell which can be bought on Amazon to use at home. For this demonstration, it is easiest to demonstrate the Romanian deadlift variation.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand with your feet at shoulder-width apart with your feet facing forward
  • Grab your choice of resistance and hold them in your outstretched arms (dumbbells, kettlebell, or barbell)
  • Keeping your spine tall, inhale and brace your core
  • Begin the exercise by bending at the waist (and NOT your spine)
  • Focus on pushing your butt back behind you as if you wanted to press a button with your buttocks
  • Keep your knees relatively straight (a slight bend is okay)
  • Keep pushing your hips back until you feel a nice stretch along your hamstring muscles
  • DO NOT let your spinal alignment change, EVER. Only go as low as you can maintain this position
  • Pause for a 1 count, and then reverse the movement by extending your hips as you exhale
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top of the exercise.
deadlift

You should practice the Romanian Deadlift at least once per week.

Similarly, you should do 8-12 repetitions at a 7/10 intensity to build muscle and strength in your legs.

For much information, you could check out my post on weightlifting in the postpartum.


After these two exercises, you can try isolation exercises to target the saddlebag fat.

Here they are.

Highly Effective Outer Thigh Isolation Exercises

So in this next section, we will go over a few exercises that strengthen the saddlebag area.

I just want to remind you that it is very difficult to target fat loss to a specific body part. In order for these exercises to be effective, you MUST decrease body fat percentage.

Alright let’s start.

Curtsy Lunge

The Curtsy lunge is a lunge variation that will train your glutes and outer thighs.

Here’s how it looks:

  • Stand with your feet together and your spine tall
  • Step back and across with one foot as you begin to lunge straight down
  • Go through the movement slowly, and create a mind-muscle connection (i.e. concentrate on the other thigh) as you go through the exercise
  • Keep your chest up throughout the movement

Do 12-15 repetitions on each side.

If it’s too easy, feel free to hold a dumbbell at your chest.

curtsy-lunge

X-Band Walks

The X-band walk is an easy exercise to really target the outer thighs and glute muscles. To do the X-band walk, you will need a long closed-loop resistance band. Amazon sells a great set for a decent price.

Here’s what it looks like:

  • Step inside one of the loops of the band with both feet
  • Grab the other loop and cross it to create an “X”
  • Keeping a slight bend at the knee, all you have to do is walk laterally for 10 steps on each side

If you do not have a closed-loop resistance band, you can also do it with my Glute Resistant Bands which you could find here.

Do 10 steps in one direction, then 10 steps in the other direction.

banded-x-walks

Standing Weighted Hip Abductions

This exercise looks a lot easier than it is. In order to do it successfully, you will need something heavy to rest against your thighs, such as a weight plate, or a dumbbell which can be bought on Amazon.

It’s also helps to stand on a short platform, but you could also do it from the floor.

Here’s how it looks.

  • Stand on a short platform near a wall so that you can balance yourself
  • Hold the weight against your thigh on the side furthest from the wall
  • Let the foot of the working leg dangle off the platform.
  • From here, all you have to do is abduct (or raise your leg laterally) against the weight
  • Try to avoid letting your leg go slightly in front or slightly behind you – move your leg out laterally in a straight line

Do 20 repetitions per leg.

weighted-hip-abductions

Modified Side Plank Abductions

The modified side plank abduction will strengthen your core/oblique muscles while strengthening your outer thighs as well.

Here’s how it looks:

  • Get into a modified side plank position, resting on your forearm and your bottom leg on the floor
  • From here, abduct your top leg as high as you comfortably can, and slowly return to the starting position
    • To make this exercise more challenging, you can do it on your hand (with your elbow extended)
    • To make it even more challenging, you can do it from a full side plank position

Do 12-15 repetitions on each side.

modified-side-plank-abductions

Fire Hydrant Circles

Fire hydrant circles are a great exercise to target the glutes, the outer thighs, as well as improve your hip mobility.

Here’s how it looks:

  • Get into a quadruped position, (on your hands and knees with your back as flat as possible)
  • Next, brace your core and try to maintain a neutral spinal position throughout the movement
  • Begin lifting one knee off the ground, and rotating that hip out directly to your side
  • From here, draw a big circle with your knee, going forward for 10 repetitions
  • Next, you are going to draw big circles going the other direction for 10 repetitions
  • Switch sides

Do 10 repetitions clockwise, then 10 repetitions counter clockwise on each side.

fire-hydrant-circles

Quadruped Abduction Pumps

This next exercise is also done from the quadruped position. It will really build up some lactic acid in your outer thighs and glutes.

Here’s how it looks:

  • Get into a quadruped position, (on your hands and knees with your back as flat as possible)
  • Next, brace your core and try to maintain a neutral spinal position throughout the movement
  • Lift one leg straight out to your side with your knee completely straight
  • From here, raise your leg up toward the ceiling, as high as you can, while maintaining a good spinal position
  • Return back to the starting position and continue pumping your leg up and down without letting your foot touch the ground
  • Finish all of your repetitions on one side before moving on to the next side

Do 25 repetitions on each side.

quadruped-leg-pumps

Banded Seated Hip Abductions

This next exercise simulates the hip abduction machine that you could find at most gyms. But the best part is, you can do it from your home!

You will need a glute resistance band which can be purchased here.

  • Sit on the edge of a chair or bench with the band wrapped around your knees
  • Place your feet on the floor, with your heels touching
  • Place your hands behind you or on your hips for support and balance
  • From here, all you have to do is abduct your legs while keeping your feet in contact with each other
  • Go through the repetitions slowly
  • Once finished, end each set with a “finisher” doing quick repetitions only in the last couple of inches in the range of motion.

Do 20 repetitions per set, followed by a finisher of at least 10-15 pumps.

banded-seat-abductions

So that’s it for our exercises.

Now let’s answer a few last questions.

Does Running Get Rid of Saddlebags?

It depends. Running can potentially help you lose saddlebags, but not by itself.

That’s because running is just another form of exercise. And as you know, exercise is a poor way of achieving fat loss.

However, if you combine running with a healthy diet intended for fat loss, along with strength exercises, then you have a recipe for getting rid of saddlebags!

Check out my article on running postpartum if you’re interested.

Is Yoga Effective for saddlebags?

Similar to running, yoga can be a tool to help you lose fat, and thus saddlebags.

With that said, it is important that you pair yoga with other fat loss efforts such as diet.

Check out my post on easy ways to start doing yoga postpartum to learn more.

Final Thoughts On Saddlebags

Getting rid of saddlebags requires you to take a multichannel approach.

You must focus on

  • Diet
  • Exercise (whether that’s strength, training, running, or yoga), and
  • Lifestyle changes to prevent fat gain

Whatever you do, stay consistent with your efforts and you’ll likely be successful.

Do you have saddlebags?

What have you tried to get rid of them?

Comment below and let me know!

Related Posts on Toning Your Thighs


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Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Brittany N Robles is a full-time OBGYN, a NASM certified personal trainer, and health & fitness expert. She holds a Masters of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.

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