If you've ever been frustrated and flummoxed by the bit of fat right above your knees and wondered how to get rid of it, you're not alone. Though less talked about than, say, belly fat, the fat above your knee is just as common and natural. It all depends on where your body naturally stores fat, said Jackie Vick, NCSF, a certified personal trainer for the Gold's AMP app. "If you tend to gain weight and store fat in your lower region, fat pockets above the knees will be a common area for you," she told POPSUGAR.
No surprise: it mostly has to do with genetics, said exercise physiologist and Bowflex fitness adviser Tom Holland, MS, CSCS. "Everyone stores fat differently, and where and when you lose body fat is also primarily dictated by your genes," he explained. A 2013 study backed that up, finding that thigh fat (and belly fat, for that matter) is genetically predetermined to end up in your legs.
But it's not as hopeless or pessimistic at it sounds. Just because you're more likely to store fat in your thighs, and specifically in the area right above your knees, doesn't mean you're powerless to reduce it. You can't target and spot-reduce the fat in that area (spot-reduction just isn't possible, unfortunately), but you can work to decrease overall body fat and build lean muscle in your legs. Together, that combination can give the area above your knee a more toned appearance.
How Can I Get Rid of Fat Above the Knee?
Lower-body strength training is the best way to burn the fat above your knee and reduce its appearance, Tom told POPSUGAR. Building lean muscle in general will increase your metabolism, which will help you burn fat even when you're not working out. And far from making your legs look "bulky," targeting your lower body will contribute to a more sculpted appearance, Tom explained.
Squats and lunges are a couple of exercises that target this region, and you can try out this lower-body circuit with weights for a full workout. In your fitness routine, you should also include a couple of days of cardio for a big calorie burn; two days of cardio and three days of strength training is a good place to start. Jackie recommended running and walking or jumping rope for cardio workouts that really target your legs. A four-week workout plan for weight loss like this one, which includes both cardio and strength training, can give you even more guidance.
And as important as lower-body work will be for reducing fat above the knee, total-body strength workouts are also key. "Because you cannot spot reduce, focus on full-body strength workouts as well as cardiovascular exercise," Tom said. "Your goal is to burn calories while adding metabolically active lean muscle from head to toe." In general, make sure that your full-body workouts include plenty of lower-body work so you can burn fat, build muscle, and sculpt your legs specifically.
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention diet as well. "Eating a little healthier will speed up your results," Tom said. That means loading up your plate with whole foods and especially veggies, staying in a slight caloric deficit, and cutting back on sugar and refined carbs.
In the end, above-the-knee fat is similar to any other area of fat we might want to get rid of: a little annoying but totally natural. A combination of strength training (especially in the lower body), cardio, and a good diet can help you reduce fat all over your body, including this frustrating little area.