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Are 16 inch thighs and 17 inch thighs too small?

Learn why having 16 inch legs and 17 inch legs could be damaging your health.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 30th January 2022
Close up of a woman's 17 inch thighs

17 inches is around 4-5 inches below the average thigh circumference measurement. And that’s for men as well as women.

Now, if you have 17 inch thighs when measuring close to your knee, then that’s normal. But if you only have 17 inch legs when measuring your mid or upper thigh, then that’s a very skinny measurement indeed.

But are there any downsides to having 17 inch and even 16 inch thighs?

That’s the topic of this article. Let’s learn why having 17″ thighs might not be such a good idea.

Compare Your Thighs:

Are 17 inch thighs too slim?

A woman looking at her 17 inch thighs in the mirror

Although some research shows that having larger thighs can be beneficial for your health, this may only be because muscular legs are a sign of an active, healthy lifestyle. [1]

However, if you have 16 inch thighs or 17 inch thighs, then you likely have a low BMI, which is very unhealthy. Research even shows that being underweight increases your risk of disease and all-cause mortality. [2]

While it may seem like so many people have slim thighs, the reality is that most people don’t. Your legs can still look lean and slim when they’re considerably bigger than 17 inches.

On the whole, 17 in thighs are likely too slim regardless of whether you’re male or female. While some males may have 17 inch quads before they start hitting the gym, this is generally only those with smaller builds or who are still going through puberty.

How about 16 inch thighs?

Considering that some people have upper arms that measure 16 inches, 16 inch thighs are very small indeed and are almost certainly a sign that you’re severely underweight.

According to the World Health Organization, you’re classed as underweight when your BMI drops below 18.5. [3]

Having 16 inch legs is commonly associated with people who have eating disorders and body image issues, which can make them think that their thighs are fat even when their legs are extremely thin.

The good news is that through some simple dietary changes—and by following a basic exercise regime—you can strengthen your legs, tone your thighs, and improve your mental and physical health.

Who typically has a 17 inch thigh circumference?

A woman with 17 inch legs

The only people who tend to have a 17 inch thigh circumference are elderly people with a low body weight. This is because you naturally lose muscle mass as you age, which makes your thighs smaller—directly and indirectly.

Directly because losing muscle mass reduces your circumference measurement.

Indirectly because losing body mass means that you now need to eat less to maintain your weight, which can make your legs become even slimmer.

Of course, some people also suffer from eating disorders, which can cause their thighs to drop to 16 inches and below.

How can you increase your 17 inch legs?

A woman lifting weights in the gym

Although some people may find the idea uncomfortable, increasing your thighs means gaining weight.

This is simply because when you gain weight, all of your circumference measurements increase—including your thighs.

Performing resistance training, which you can easily do at home, will make your thighs look lean and toned while strengthening your bones in the process.

Bodyweight squats are a great exercise to start with because they require absolutely no equipment and are completely scalable to your ability level.

For example, you can begin by simply pushing yourself off your chair—with your legs—and then lowering your body back down again. After this variation becomes too easy, you can squat lower to the ground to provide more challenge for your quadriceps and glutes.

Conclusion: Should you be concerned about only having 17 inch thighs?

A skinny woman with 18 inch thighs

Since having 17 inch thighs is almost certainly an indication that you’re underweight, it’s definitely a physical measurement that should be a cause for concern.

Of course, some people have naturally slim thighs. But even these individuals rarely have thighs that are 16 and 17 inches around.

If you have 16 inch legs or 17 inch legs, then you can gain weight by simply consuming more energy than your body expends.

Increasing your thighs, especially if you perform resistance training, may actually improve your body confidence because lifting weights is like watching yourself become mentally and physically stronger.

References

  1. Hitti, M. (2009, September 4). Too-Thin Thighs Unhealthy? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20090904/too-thin-thighs-unhealthy
  2. Ringbäck Weitoft, G., Eliasson, M., & Rosén, M. (2008). Underweight, overweight and obesity as risk factors for mortality and hospitalization. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 36(2), 169–176. https://doi.org/10.1177/1403494807085080
  3. World Health Organization. (2022). Body mass index - BMI. WHO Regional Office for Europe. https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/nutrition/a-healthy-lifestyle/body-mass-index-bmi
James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
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