Average Thigh Circumference

Anthropometric Survey Reveals Average Thigh Size for Male & Female

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: September 25, 2023

Many men and women desire to build their leg muscles, as thick thighs can convey strength and sensuality. But how can you determine if your thighs are small, big, or average compared to others?

To assist you, I have compiled body measurement data from thousands of individuals to display the average thigh circumference for both males and females. And I will present you with a comprehensive plan to build your ideal legs.

20 Inch Thighs

Data Collection Methods

This article refers to the thigh circumference data obtained from the CDC’s National Health Statistics Reports. Specifically, the data is taken from the Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults in the United States, recorded between 2003 and 2006.

With my engineering and statistical analysis background, I have compiled the data into tables and charts that are easier to understand. Furthermore, as a certified fitness coach, I explain how these measurements relate to your overall health and fitness.

What Is Thigh Circumference?

You may recall from geometry class that the circumference is the measure of the distance around the outer edge of a circle. It’s interesting to note that if you were to take a cross-section of your thigh, you would observe that it roughly takes on a circular shape.

As a result, thigh circumference refers to measuring the distance around the mid-upper leg.

How to Measure Your Thighs

This measurement is based on the CDC’s anthropometric reference data and can effectively track changes in your thigh size over time.

To measure mid-thigh circumference, stand up straight with even weight distribution on both feet and legs slightly apart so your thighs don’t touch. Then wrap a flexible tape measure (like a tailor’s tape) around the thickest part of your thigh.

Make sure the tape is perpendicular to the long axis of your leg and not too tight, as this can make your thigh appear smaller. Avoid wrapping the tape at an angle, making your thigh appear bigger.

Your thigh circumference is the number where the tape meets its end.

Average Thigh Circumference Measurement Sight

Average Thigh Circumference

Based on body measurement data from the US Department of Health Statistics, the typical circumference of women’s thighs is around 20.8 inches (52.9 cm), while men’s thighs average 21.2 inches (53.8 cm).

Nonetheless, it is essential to note that having larger or smaller thighs than these averages can also be considered normal. This is because typical thigh thickness can vary depending on age, ethnicity, weight, and body composition.

Average Thigh Circumference by Age

While we start with relatively slender legs as children, our legs grow during our teenage years. As adults, our growth slows down, but some individuals may notice an increase in thigh size during their twenties and thirties.

However, in our forties or fifties, we may experience a decline in adipose and muscle tissue, which can lead to a reduction in thigh size. The table below illustrates this rise and fall in thigh circumference by different age categories for men and women.

Table 1. Average Thigh Circumference by Gender & Age

Age Men Women
20-29 21.7 inches (55.1 cm) 20.8 inches (52.9 cm)
30-39 21.7 inches (55.1 cm) 21.3 inches (54.2 cm)
40-49 21.7 inches (55.0 cm) 21.4 inches (54.4 cm)
50-59 20.9 inches (53.2 cm) 20.9 inches (53.2 cm)
60-69 20.4 inches (51.9 cm) 20.6 inches (52.2 cm)
70-79 19.7 inches (50.0 cm) 19.5 inches (49.6 cm)
80+ 18.3 inches (46.6 cm) 18.7 inches (47.5 cm)

In Table 1, we can see the average size of women’s thighs, ranging from 18.7 to 21.4 inches (47.5 to 54.4 cm), while men’s thighs range from 18.3 to 21.7 inches (46.6 to 55.1 cm).

However, it’s important to note that these figures are based on the average measurements of both males and females, including older adults who may have muscle atrophy or sarcopenia.

To get a better understanding of the true range of thigh sizes, it’s helpful to view the data as percentiles, specifically for adults aged 20-49.

Table 2. Thigh Circumference Percentiles Age 20-49

Percentile Men Women
5th 18.2 inches (46.3 cm) 17.0 inches (43.3 cm)
10th 18.8 inches (47.7 cm) 17.7 inches (45.0 cm)
15th 19.3 inches (49.0 cm) 18.2 inches (46.2 cm)
25th 20.1 inches (51.0 cm) 18.9 inches (48.1 cm)
50th 21.4 inches (54.3 cm) 20.6 inches (52.4 cm)
75th 23.0 inches (58.4 cm) 23.0 inches (58.3 cm)
85th 24.0 inches (61.0 cm) 24.2 inches (61.6 cm)
90th 24.8 inches (62.9 cm) 25.4 inches (64.5 cm)
95th 26.1 inches (66.2 cm) 27.3 inches (69.4 cm)

Table 2 presents a comprehensive list of thigh circumferences that can help you determine whether your thighs are considered small or large for your gender. It’s interesting to note that women tend to exhibit more variability in thigh size compared to men.

Presumably, this dissimilarity in ranges of thigh circumference could be due to differences in body size and body fat distribution between genders.

For example, women generally have smaller frames, which could translate into smaller thighs in the lower percentiles. But females also tend to store body fat in their thighs more easily than men, which explains the larger circumference in the 85th percentile and above.

Average Thigh Circumference Male Chart
Average Thigh Circumference Female Chart

Average Thigh Circumference by Ethnicity

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted a study on body measurements that included data on thigh circumferences for non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and Mexican-American individuals1.

Table 3 compares thigh size among women and men of different races. However, it should be noted that these are general averages and do not necessarily apply to every individual. It is possible for anyone, irrespective of their ethnic background, to have either large or small thighs.

Table 3. Average Thigh Circumference by Ethnicity

Percentile Men Women
White 21.7 inches (55.1 cm) 20.9 inches (53.2 cm)
African American 22.9 inches (58.1 cm) 23.1 inches (58.8 cm)
Mexican American 21.1 inches (53.7 cm) 20.6 inches (52.4 cm)
Average Thigh Circumference by Ethnicity Chart

Average Thigh Circumference by Height & Weight

The circumference measurement alone doesn’t always indicate whether your thighs are big or small for your body. Other factors, such as height, weight, and body composition, also play a role.

Taller people generally have larger frames that can support more body mass, which may result in larger leg circumferences. However, a shorter person’s thighs may appear larger even with a smaller circumference. 

In addition, body weight also affects the size of your thighs. The heavier you are, the larger your thigh size typically becomes, but they may not look as big in proportion to your body.

Average Thigh Circumference by Body Fat Percentage

Men and women both store body fat in their thighs, but women tend to store more fat in this area. Whether you’re a bodybuilder, athlete, or simply looking to improve your overall health, focusing on having relatively lean and muscular thighs is essential.

There are several reasons why you should pursue leaner and more muscular thighs. Firstly, having less fat and more muscle helps to define your legs, allowing you to distinguish between your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

In addition, being leaner makes your thighs appear more prominent in comparison to your leg joints (ankle, knee, hip) and waist. It’s important to note that not everyone wants highly defined legs, but having too much fat on your thighs is not healthy.

Average Male Thigh Circumference

How To Get Bigger Thighs

It can be difficult to build up your thighs, especially since our legs are often put through strenuous activities in our daily routines. Leg workouts are known to be challenging and are often considered the least favorite exercises by many people.

Despite this, it’s possible to grow bigger thighs with consistent effort in the right areas. To make faster progress, it’s recommended to follow a well-rounded plan that includes specific workouts and a well-balanced diet.

Leg Workouts

The fastest way to increase leg size and strength is through compound leg exercises like squats and leg presses for overall development.

Related: 21 Science-Backed Benefits of Squats

Then, add some more targeted exercises like hack squats or Romanian deadlifts. Finish off your quads and hamstrings with isolation movements like leg extensions and curls.

When training your legs, you should use a variety of rep ranges to target all the different muscle fibers. For example, combine lower reps (3-8) for building strength and medium reps (8-12) for hypertrophy.

Also, the legs are a unique muscle group in that they respond well to higher reps with heavy weights. So you can include a set of 20 or more reps on squats or leg presses to really get the blood flowing and maximize the pump.

More: Tom Platz’s Legendary Leg Workout

Tom Platz Leg Workout

Legs Building Diet

In order to make progress in the gym and build muscle, it’s important to not only focus on lifting but also on your diet. Giving your body the necessary fuel to grow is essential, which means consuming more calories than you burn each day.

Providing your body with enough protein is also critical for growing new muscle tissue. However, the commonly recommended 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight may not be suitable for everyone. Your protein needs may depend on your lean mass, activity level, and fitness goals.

Additionally, eating mostly clean foods and avoiding junk food can lead to better results. Nutrient timing is also a key factor in unlocking your potential for leg gains. For optimal results, try consuming most of your carbs and calories around your workout.

Average Female Thigh Circumference

Leg Building Supplements

It’s important to note that relying solely on supplements won’t magically give you big thighs. And beware of the many overpriced and ineffective supplements out there.

Instead, supplements should only be used in addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise routine to potentially enhance your results. Here are some muscle-building supplements that could assist in developing thicker thighs.

Related: Top 12 Protein Bars for Weight Gain

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More Body Measurements

Looking for more fascinating information on body measurements? I’ve got you covered! Check out these hand-picked articles that are sure to pique your interest. Once you’ve finished reading, you’ll be an expert on all things body measurements!

Average Calf Size – How Big Is Healthy?

Average Arm Size – Flexed vs. Relaxed

What Neck Size Says About Your Health

Average Male Chest Size by Height

Do You Have Small Wrists?

Average Waist Size for Men & Women

Average Butt Size by Gender & Ethnicity

With this information, you are well on your way to building impressive legs. And if you liked this article, make sure to check out some of my other helpful content below!

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By |September 25, 2023|Bodybuilding|Comments Off on Survey Reveals Average Thigh Circumference for Male & Female
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