Right up there with acquiring incredibly strong abdominal muscles, the thighs are a region of the body that many individuals adore focusing on at the fitness center. If you’re looking for a workout that will “slim” your thighs, understand this: you cannot spot reduce. However, what you can do is cultivate lean muscle in a specific area.
Enter: These 10 thigh exercises, which can assist you in developing a robust lower body. However, these moves go beyond just your thighs; they will also strengthen your hamstrings, glutes, and calves — and even engage your core. Regard it as your go-to buttocks and thigh workout when you’re prepared to break a sweat.
How it operates: Perform the recommended repetitions and sets of all 10 thigh exercises continuously without resting in between, then repeat the sequence one to two more times. Perform this thigh workout three or four days per week. Alternatively, select three or four of your preferred thigh exercises and incorporate them into your current routine for an additional dose of lower-body strengthening.
You’ll require: A pair of 8- to 10-pound dumbbells
Side Shuffle Switch
This high-paced thigh exercise is effortless to include in any home leg workout. It elevates your heart rate (bonus cardio!) and engages your inner-thigh muscles to enable you to switch directions rapidly.
A. Stand with feet together and arms by your sides. Swiftly shuffle to the right by taking three rapid steps sideways (right foot, left foot, right foot).
B. On the last step, raise your left knee up with your right knee bent, swinging your right arm forward.
C. Immediately reverse the shuffle to the left (left foot, right foot, left foot) and land with your right knee up, left knee bent, swinging your right arm forward. That completes one repetition.
Perform 20 repetitions as quickly as possible.
Performing jumping plyometric exercises not only strengthens every muscle in your legs (including your inner thighs) but also serves as a vigorous cardio workout.
A. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, squat down, bending your knees to a 90-degree angle.
B. Propel yourself upwards explosively, utilizing the strength in your legs and buttocks to jump.
Touch down as gently as feasible with knees flexed in the crouch stance, maintaining the load towards the rear, above the heels.
Perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions.
Side Lunge Sweep
Side lunges (also known as lateral lunges) are excellent for strengthening the muscles on the outside and inside of your thighs. The additional crossover in this thigh exercise intensifies the workout for your inner thighs and adds a balance challenge for your core.
A. Begin by standing with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Then, take a wide step to the left side and lower into a side lunge with your left leg, bending your left knee and pushing your hips behind your body.
B. Push through your left heel to stand back up, crossing your left leg in front of your body without touching the floor. Focus on squeezing your inner thighs.
C. Swing your left leg back out to the left side and repeat.
Complete 15 repetitions. Then, switch sides and repeat.
Pro tip: When single-leg circles become too easy, try spelling out the alphabet with each leg.
A. Lie on your back with your arms by your sides and your palms facing down. Lift your left leg up and point your left foot as if reaching out with your toes to touch the ceiling.
B. Rotate your left leg slightly outward. Then, inhale and trace a circle on the ceiling with your left leg, moving your entire leg while keeping your hips still. Try not to lift your left hip off the floor.
C. Trace the circle 5 times in a clockwise direction, and then repeat in a counter-clockwise direction. Switch sides and repeat.
Perform 5 repetitions on each side.
Very few exercises can rival the squat when it comes to functional thigh workouts. Increase the intensity of your squat by using dumbbells—start with lighter weights and gradually increase the load as you become stronger—and enjoy all the benefits of lifting heavier weights.
A. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, positioned over your shoulders.
B. Engage your core and push your hips back to lower into a squat. Keep your chest upright and your back flat, ensuring that your knees do not extend beyond your toes.
Cease descending when the upper legs are in line with the horizontal plane or when the proper posture is compromised.
C. Apply pressure to the middle of your foot in order to stand and return to the starting position.
Complete 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Not only does this traditional thigh workout engage and activate leg muscles, but it also challenges your equilibrium and coordination — moreover, it targets your posterior. (Try adding these various lunge variations to your thigh workouts as well.)
A. Stand with feet at a distance of hip-width apart, gripping a dumbbell in each hand.
B. Step forward with your right leg, performing a lunge. Ensure that your torso remains perpendicular to the floor, distributing the weight evenly between both legs. Maintain alignment of your front knee over your front ankle, while keeping the weight on your heels instead of your toes. The left knee should come within approximately one inch of the ground without touching it.
C. Extend your legs and return to the starting position.
Continue for 30 seconds. Then, switch sides and repeat.
Embrace your inner ballerina with this exercise that targets the thighs. The plié engages your hamstrings, quadriceps, abductors, and adductors — indeed, your entire thigh area.
A. Stand with feet slightly wider than the width of your shoulders, angling your toes outward.
B. Extend your arms straight in front of your body, tucking your tailbone underneath you as you lower into a squat. Maintain an upright torso and engage your glutes. Lower yourself as much as possible without allowing your knees to extend beyond your toes.
Repeat for 40 seconds, then perform pulses at the bottom of the squat for 20 seconds.
Low Lunge with Isometric Adduction
This isometric contraction activates your inner thigh muscles while simultaneously involving the rest of your body — a considerably more efficient method of training compared to the hip abduction and adduction machines at the gym. In addition, it stretches the hip flexor of the opposite leg.
A. Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Take a wide step forward with your right foot and lower yourself into a deep lunge position.
B. Position your hands on the floor inside of your right foot. Push your right knee against the outer side of your right shoulder. Squeeze and maintain the contraction for a count of 10.
C. Release the contraction and push off the floor with your right leg to return to a standing position. Switch sides and repeat.
Perform 3 repetitions on each side.
Approach to Side Extension
Another ballet-inspired workout for the thighs, this exercise requires your thigh muscles to activate in order to control the movement of your leg (without losing balance).
A. Stand with your weight on your right leg, slightly bending the right knee, and placing your hands on your hips.
B. Raise your left leg into an “attitude” position by bending the left knee and lifting the leg up and across your body, while turning your left heel upward.
C. Extend your left leg out to the side of your body and straighten it completely, as illustrated.
Complete 15 repetitions. Then switch sides and repeat.
Weighted Lift for Inner Thighs
This thigh exercise puts a twist on the traditional inner-thigh lift, as it adds extra difficulty by using your body weight.
A. Lie on your left side with your left elbow bent beneath your shoulder and your right hand behind your head. Extend both legs out and then bend your right knee upward toward the ceiling, placing the bottom of your right foot on the inside of your left knee.
B. Slightly lift your left leg off the floor with your foot flexed. Engage your inner thigh to lift your left leg even higher.
C. Slowly lower your left leg back down to hover above the floor.
Complete 15 repetitions. Then switch sides and repeat.
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