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6 Inner Thigh Workouts to Shape and Tone

Leg workouts can be some of the toughest to power through. Admittedly, they’re not always my favorite, as it usually doesn’t take much to completely wear me out. A few sets of weighted lunges or box jumps, and I sometimes find it hard to muster up the will to go on. While it’s easy to want to skip it, there are great reasons to stay motivated to routinely work those leg muscles!

Leg Workouts Offer Huge Health Benefits!

Working the leg muscles can stimulate the release of large amounts of hormones such as cortisol, testosterone, and human growth hormone. Cortisol helps your body to respond to stress and increase fat metabolism. Generally, leg exercises provide many benefits, such as maintaining good bone health, strengthening joints, and improving functional movement. Because your leg muscles are the biggest muscle group in your body, the more you train them, the more energy is needed to move them. This means that you will automatically burn more calories for a greater potential for fat loss.

What are the main muscle groups in the legs that need to be targeted?

  • Glutes
  • Quadriceps (quads)
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves

Which leg muscles make up the inner thigh?

The inner thigh is part of the quadriceps muscles, which is the teardrop-shaped muscle runs along the inner part of your thigh. The inner thigh, or quad muscles, also connects your femur to your kneecap.

Benefits of Strong Inner Thighs

Strong inner thighs

It’s easier to find the discipline in doing specific exercises or working specific muscle groups when you understand the benefits. You may not think too often about this inner part of your legs if you aren’t making the mind-to-muscle connection as to what this group of muscles does for the overall well-being of your body. Having strong inner thighs has excellent benefits, including:

  • Improve body awareness
  • Improve posture
  • Providing a strong foundation for your spine when standing (avoid those lower back aches)
  • Strengthen your core
  • Strong inner thighs can make other leg and glute exercises more effective

The 5 Most Effective Inner Thigh Exercises for Women Over 50

I will be including 5 simple (but not easy) inner thigh exercises and, as a bonus, the most effective outer thigh exercise so that you will have a comprehensive workout routine to work both the inside and outside of those quadricep muscles, providing balance to this portion of the legs.

1. WARMUP: Squat with Side Leg Raise

Exercises for a smaller waist squats

While the squat with side leg lift is an excellent warmup for these inner thigh exercises, they also make a great resistance exercise.

How to do a squat with side leg raise:

  • Stand on the floor or a mat with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Bend your knees, lowering your hips deeply so that your thighs are parallel with the floor, keeping your weight back in your heels.
  • Raise back up, straightening the legs completely and lifting the left leg out to the side, squeezing the outer glute.
  • Repeat squat, then raise back up, straightening the legs completely and lifting the right leg out to the side, squeezing the outer glute.
  • Performing this exercise once with both a left and right leg raise is considered one rep.
  • Perform a total of 20-30 reps if you can, or depending on your fitness level, as many as you can to start.

2. Sumo Squat

Sumo squat

Even though I sometimes dread leg day at the gym, I’ve always loved sumo squats. The sumo squat increases the activation of the adductor (inner thigh) muscles more than many other lower body exercises, making it into my list of Top 5 Favorite Inner Thigh Exercises. I also love that you can perform a sumo squat anywhere because this move is effective with just your body weight.

How to do a sumo squat:

  • Start by standing with your feet out wide and your toes pointing out.
  • Keeping weight in your back heels, start to lower your hips and bend your knees into a wide squat. Go down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Stand back up, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
  • Perform 10-20 reps or adjust to your fitness level.

Variation: the sumo squat can also be done with added weight like a kettlebell or dumbbell. If you find you need more of a challenge and really want to work those inner thigh muscles, hold a weight between your legs and allow it to add resistance as you’re raising out of your sumo squat.

3. Side Lunges (lateral lunges)

Side lunges

Side lunges work multiple muscle groups throughout your lower body, including your quadriceps and adductors, which are part of your inner thigh muscles. They work the inside and outside of the thighs and glutes, making these a great stabilizer exercise.

How to do side lunges:

  • Take a wide step with your left leg to the side of you
  • Bend your left knee as you step outward and keep your hips back
  • Release the position by pushing off your left foot to return to the starting position
  • Perform one set of side lunges on your left leg, then switch to your right leg
  • Repeat 20-30 times or adjust according to your fitness level

Variation: while side lunges are an excellent body weight-only exercise, you can also add weight to provide even more of a challenge and amplify your results. Once you’ve ensured you have proper form, you can also increase your speed to activate your cardiovascular system.

4. Inner Thigh Press

inner thigh workout hip adductor machine

The inner thigh press is routinely done on a fitness machine at the gym, but a variation can also be done at home with no equipment. The inner thigh press will strengthen and firm your inner thighs, and it’s a safe and effective way to strengthen the adductor muscles of the inner thighs and hips.

How to do an inner thigh press at home:

  • Lie down with your legs about two feet apart, extended straight in the air.
  • Your body should be bent at a 45-degree angle.
  • Cross your arms and hold each leg just below the knee.
  • Exhale while you push your legs inward, simultaneously pressing them outward with your hand for at least five seconds.
  • Perform a set of 20-30 or adjust to your fitness level.

Variation: Use a hip adductor machine at the gym

5. Hip Adduction (Side Lying) Exercise

Side lying leg lift

The hip adduction will work your hips and groin. This movement is an adduction of the hip, moving the thigh inwards with the hip straight. This exercise is beneficial for improving strength in the hip abductor group.

How to do side-lying hip adductions:

  1. Lie on the floor on one side with your top leg bent and dropped forward, supporting your top leg with a yoga block or a pillow for comfort if necessary (not required).
  2. Extend your bottom leg long. Keep hips stacked as you lift your bottom leg, engaging your abdominals as you lift and lower your leg.
  3. Perform 15-20 reps before switching to the other side and repeating.
  4. Perform a total of 3 sets on each side.

Variation: add a set of ankle weights to increase your resistance.

6. Bonus Outer Thigh Exercise: The Clamshell

Clamshell leg workout

The clamshell exercise not only keeps the hips moving, but it also strengthens the outer thighs and glutes.

How to do the clamshell:

  • Lie on your side, with legs stacked and knees bent at a 45-degree angle.
  • Rest your head over your lower arm, and use your top arm to steady your frame.
  • Engage your abdominals by pulling your belly button in. This will help stabilize your spine and pelvis.
  • Keeping your feet together, raise your upper knee as high as you can without shifting your hips or pelvis. Don’t move your lower leg off the floor.
  • Pause, then return your upper leg to the starting position.
  • Perform 20-30 reps on each side or adjust to your fitness level.

Variation: if you need an extra challenge, add a resistance band around both legs, just above the knees. There are many levels of resistance bands, from light to heavy, that will add a wide range of pounds of pressure to this movement.

The Takeaway: A Strong Lower Body Means a Healthier You

While we often think about our arms looking toned or having a flatter tummy, having strong legs truly is the foundation of a healthier body. Overall, leg and inner thigh strength and mobility will keep you strong, stable, and independent as you age.

Check out this video on the Prime Women YouTube channel for additional inner thigh sculpting workouts

Tools for Stronger Inner Thighs

Read Next: 

Exercises For Cracking Knees

5 Exercises To Get A Smaller Waist

Spine Straightening Exercises

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