woman pinching fat on knees

Fat knees and their causes and cures often end up in a sales pitch for surgeries or other money making enterprises. We are not selling you anything.  Inner knee fat, fat kneecaps, or simply an overall large knee is concerning for many, but luckily much can be done to improve this. In this article we will address the healthy alternatives that will help you look your best.

Anatomy of fat knees

The knee joint is made where your thigh bone articulates with your shin bone. Your thigh bone, or femur, is the largest bone in your body, so that by itself means the knee joint is one of your largest joints in your body. When you take what is already a large joint and surround it with soft tissue like muscles, tendons, ligaments, and adipose (fat), this joint’s appearance grows, sometimes to the point where they are labeled “fat knees”.

Your knee also has actual fat pads that serve as a cushion or a friction reducer for various components of the knee joint. These are sometimes visible, like little pillows just below your kneecap. Considering all the above points, the knee has a number of legitimate reasons why it can appear large.

Genetics and fat knees

When looking for a solution to fat knees it is important to identify the cause. Sometimes this can be genetic. Do the women in your extended family have inner knee fat? Look at your mom, grandmother, sisters, and aunts. If they have a similar build, then there could be a genetic component.

When I mention “similar build” it can be one of two things, or even both. You could genetically store more body fat in your lower body and this will certainly affect the appearance of the knees. Increased body fat around the knee is covered later in the article. On the other hand, if body fat is not necessarily the main contributor, you could have genetically large knee joints. In this case toning and shaping the muscle surrounding the knee is your best plan of attack. The muscles above the knee, when shapely and toned will change the lines of your overall leg, making the knee look smaller.

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Lack of muscle tone around knees

With your knee being one the largest joints in your body, it only makes sense that some of the largest muscle groups are connected to it. Your quadriceps (thigh muscles) is the largest muscle group of your body and attaches directly to your patella, resulting in an appearance of fat kneecaps. When any muscle lacks tone, it becomes atrophied (shrinks) and has a soft appearance, or even saggy. If the muscles around your knee are atrophied, soft, and saggy, then your knee joint will look disproportionately large.

If you lack muscle tone, a basic strength training program that emphasizes toning would be the best place to start to improve your knees appearance. As you gain tone in these muscles your program can be changed to exercises that focus more on shaping and sculpting.

Body fat

It does not take a rocket scientist to know that if you are carrying excess body fat, that you certainly could have fat knees as a result. There are also people who are not necessarily overweight, but they store fat in the lower body.

If overall obesity is present, the best thing you can do to improve the appearance of your knees is to change your lifestyle. Strength training exercises that tone, shape, and sculpt will improve muscle tone, but these improvements will not be seen when blanketed with excess fat. The leaner you become, the shape of the knee will be revealed and you can reassess the direction of your efforts to attain the appearance you are striving for.

If you are not obese, but simply store fat in your lower body the plan is also to become leaner. Remember when you burn fat, you will burn it throughout your body. Doing extra leg exercises to burn fat in the legs is not going to work. Think of a tennis player for example, who’s right arm may get a lot more exercise than the left arm. Does one arm appear fat and the other skinny? No. The dedicated efforts you put forth through exercise, nutrition, and overall lifestyle improvement will result in a reduction in body fat. And where you store fat the most will be where most of the fat will also be lost. Couple this with a solid leg shaping and toning program, and you will see great results.

 inner knee fat on woman

Body image and fat knees

I have had countless women, both who are overweight and rail thin, declare that they have fat knees. But because of this, I have to mention the topic of body image. If you have a poor self-image of your body, there could be a distortion that is amplifying your feelings.

I certainly do not want to discredit anyone’s feelings, as they are real.  But I also must first ask you to take an honest look at yourself.  I have seen people who are clinically obese, that claim they are “not really that fat”, and I have seen people with incredibly flat stomachs considering liposuction.  We often see things in the mirror that others do not see.

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Our society often strives for the unrealistic perfection we see in magazines that have been run through hours of Photoshop, and this pertains to knees. We need to realize and accept that we are all shaped differently. Knees come in all shapes and sizes and the way your body stores fat around them is also unique. This is called beauty and not imperfection.


I have given some rock-solid guidance for the improvement of fat knees. When you put together a plan for addressing your knee’s appearance, remember that there are many orthopedic issues that can develop if you are doing exercises for fat knees improperly. The one thing that is worse than big knees is big knees that are in pain! Be smart and get professional guidance with exercises. Other changes you may make to improve your lifestyle, and thus the appearance of your knees, will be rewarded with feelings of vitality, improved sleep, and a boost in overall confidence and self-esteem that is priceless.


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