The inner-thigh region is one of the most commonly neglected muscle areas. The good news, however, is that anyone can tone or strengthen this area, as hard as it may seem.
- Cossack Squat
This exercise provides a unique training stimulus for the lower body that will shape your glutes and thighs from every angle.
To do it: Stand with feet much wider than shoulder-width apart, arms relaxed by sides. Squat as deep as possible to the left, while turning right toes up, flexing right foot (right leg remains straight and torso leans slightly forward to maintain balance). Extend arms straight out from shoulders. Return to the starting position and perform on the opposite side to complete 1 rep.
Do 2 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
- Crisscross Power Jacks
This move effectively targets the inner-thigh muscles while also engaging your whole body and increasing heart rate (meaning more calories burned!).
To do it: Stand with feet together and take a deep breath. As you exhale, jump feet out wide and cross arms overhead. From there, scissor legs, crossing left leg in front of right, as left arm crosses over right at chest level. Immediately repeat, alternating sides each time.
Complete the exercise for 30 to 45 seconds before transitioning to the next strength move.
- Barbell Squat
If you want to have stronger, more toned thighs, then your goal is fat loss since you can’t spot reduce. To maximize fat loss and build muscle (i.e., ‘tighten’ your inner thighs), your best bet is to use exercises that recruit multiple muscles like barbell squats.
To do it: Place a barbell across shoulders (not on top of your neck) and stand with feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out 10 to 15 degrees. Bend at knees and hips, lowering body as close to the floor as possible (heels should not lift off the ground and lower back should not lose its arch). Keep knees wide and tracking in the same direction as toes to avoid letting knees drop in toward the midline of body. Reverse the motion and stand up. Do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
- Forward Lunge to Single-Leg Deadlift
The primary role of the inner-thigh muscle is to flex and extend the femur (thigh bone) while walking. When the leg is in front of the body the inner thighs create extension; when the leg is behind the body they create flexion. This exercise is excellent for targeting those muscles, along with the hamstrings and glutes.
To do it: With arms by sides, step right foot forward, lowering into a lunge. Shift weight into right leg and stand up, balancing on right leg with left knee bent.
Extend left leg back while right knee bends slightly, hinging forward from hips (body should almost make a straight line from left heel to head). Immediately swing left leg forward into a lunge and repeat on the opposite side. That’s 1 rep. Do 2 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps, resting 30 to 45 seconds after each set.
- Inner-Thigh Circles
A bonus of this inner-thigh exercise? It’s a safe and effective way to build strength during pregnancy.
To do it: Lie on right side, supporting head with bottom arm bent. Bend top leg and place foot firmly on the mat in front of bottom leg, holding on to ankle for support. Point bottom foot and lift leg up high.
In a swooping motion, trace a circle with lifted leg (lift up each time to initiate the circle and target the inner thigh more). Do 10 to 20 circles in each direction, and then switch sides and repeat.
- Bodyweight Lunges
Any single-leg exercise performed through a full range of motion (thighs below parallel) while standing is great for your inner thighs. Plus, you get the bonus of working your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and core, resulting in more calories burned both during and after exercise.
To do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms by sides. Keeping chest lifted and back straight, take a large step forward (about 3 feet) with the right foot and lower into a lunge until front thigh is parallel to floor. Push off right foot to return to starting position. Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps on each leg performed two to three times per week.