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What are Thunder Thighs?

Michael Pollick
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

For a number of women, the upper thigh and hip region tends to be a problem area when exercising or body sculpting. The appearance of disproportionately large upper legs, hips and buttocks has unfortunately inspired the pejorative term thunder thighs. The term is thought to refer to the thunderous sound created whenever an obese person's thigh muscles contact each other, or the exaggerated sound of the ground trembling under the excess weight. A woman could be normally proportioned in every other area of her body, but having thicker than average thighs or prominent hips could still trigger an insensitive remark about her thunder thighs.

In reality, men and women are both genetically predisposed to storing excess fat in different areas of the body. Many men tend to store fat in their midsections, while a number of women tend to store fat in their upper thighs, hips and buttocks. Efforts to combat the development of "thunder thighs" often involve general weight loss diets, targeted thigh and hip exercises and stretches to elongate the leg muscles. Because the fat deposit mechanism is largely genetic, however, it can be very difficult for a woman to shrink the size of her upper thighs specifically. General weight loss and increased exercise can be helpful, but there is a risk of developing larger thigh muscles which still present the appearance of "thunder thighs." For some women, a workable solution is to select fashionable clothing which minimizes their problem areas or draws attention toward other areas.

There can be a double standard when it comes to the application of the term thunder thighs. A professional entertainer or athlete such as singer Beyonce Knowles or tennis player Serena Williams may have noticeably larger upper thighs and hips, but still not be considered to have "thunder thighs." An attractive woman with a toned physique can have muscular or thick thighs and still be considered shapely or physically fit. On the other hand, an average woman with excessive fat deposits on her hips and thighs would still be ridiculed for having "thunder thighs."

Some female athletes develop larger thigh muscles as a result of intensive training, while other in the same sport may have normal or thin thighs. Some gymnasts, for example, develop powerful and thick thigh muscles in order to perform tumbling passes and vaults. Others develop long, lean leg muscles which give them more aesthetic appeal while performing. Both types of gymnasts perform the same training exercises on the same equipment, but some develop thicker thigh and hip muscles than others. The same genetic makeup can determine if one person will store fat around his or her midsection while another will store fat around his or her upper thighs or buttocks. There can be little doubt, however, that the casual use of the term thunder thighs to describe a woman's body type is highly insensitive and disrespectful.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to The Health Board, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
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Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to The Health Board, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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