6 Best Exercises For Your Inner Thighs

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The inner thigh is a muscle group that many people struggle to develop and strengthen. Many leg workouts tend to focus on larger muscle groups. The inner thigh muscles themselves are smaller and work with other hip muscles, making them harder to isolate. To target them effectively, you’ll need exercises that directly engage the inner thighs while focusing on proper form and gradually increasing difficulty to overcome these challenges.

Let’s cover some of the most popular exercises for inner thighs, starting with the calisthenics ones (of course!), then moving onto the ones that involve exercise machines/equipment.

1 – Sumo Squats

      Sumo squats are great to target the inner thighs. Sumo squats are a variation of regular bodyweight squats where you stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and toes pointed outwards. This position forces your inner thighs to work harder as you squat down.

      • Benefits: Targets inner thighs, glutes, and hamstrings. Improves balance and stability.
      • Fitness Level: Beginner to advanced. Can be adjusted by bodyweight depth and adding weights or wearing a weight vest.
      • Instructions:
        • Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed outwards at a 45-degree angle.
        • Keep your core engaged and back straight as you squat down as if sitting in a chair. Imagine spreading the floor with your feet.
        • Lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as low as comfortable) and knees are tracking in line with your toes.
        • Push through your heels to stand back up, squeezing your glutes at the top.

      2 – Side Lunges

      Side Lunge (credit: Women’s Health)

      Side Lunges, unlike regular lunges, involve lunging to your side on one leg at a time, as opposed to lunging forward. When done properly, these place a lot of stress on your inner thighs! Try them.

        • Benefits: Works inner and outer thighs, glutes, and core. Improves balance and coordination.
        • Fitness Level: Beginner to advanced. Can be modified with depth and adding weight.
        • Instructions:
          • Stand with feet hip-width apart.
          • Take a large step out to the side with one leg, keeping your toes pointed forward.
          • Bend your knee until it’s at a 90-degree angle and your other leg remains straight with a slight heel lift.
          • Keep your torso upright and core engaged. Push through your front heel to return to standing and repeat on the other side.

        3 – Curtsy Lunges

        Woman performing curtsy lunges (credit: popsugar)

        This is one of my personal favorites! You definitely feel your inner thighs working with this one.

        Curtsy lunges are essentially a variation of regular lunges that tones your inner thighs more than regular lunges. You perform them by stepping back diagonally with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent, with the front foot flat and the back heel lifted – mimicking a curtsy.

          • Benefits: Inner thighs, glutes, and core with a focus on inner thighs compared to regular lunges. Improves balance and coordination.
          • Fitness Level: Beginner to intermediate.
          • Instructions:
            • Stand with feet hip-width apart.
            • Step back diagonally with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at 90-degree angles. Keep your front foot flat and your back heel lifted off the ground.
            • Imagine curtsying as you lower yourself.
            • Push through your front heel to return to standing and repeat on the other side.

          4 – Plie Squats

          Plie squats are like sumo squats, but with less of an outward angle for your feet (about 30 degrees, as opposed to around 45 degrees for sumo squats). This position opens up your hips and puts more emphasis on your inner thighs and glutes as you squat down. Just like sumo squats, plie squats also improve your balance and stability.

            • Benefits: Inner thighs, glutes, and quads. Improves balance and stability.
            • Fitness Level: Beginner to advanced. Can be modified with depth and adding weights.
            • Instructions:
              • Stand with your feet turned out about 45 degrees and slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
              • Keep your core engaged and back straight as you squat down as if sitting in a chair. Imagine spreading the floor with your feet.
              • Lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as low as comfortable) and knees are tracking in line with your toes.
              • Push through your heels to stand back up, squeezing your glutes at the top.

            4 – Inner Thigh Machine (Equipment Required)

            The inner thigh machine at the gym is like a seated hip press that targets your inner thighs. You sit on a padded chair with leg pads on either side. By squeezing your legs inward against the pads, you work your inner thighs in isolation. The advantage of the inner thigh machine is that it allows you to adjust the resistance to match your strength level.

              • Benefits: Isolated focus on inner thighs with adjustable resistance.
              • Fitness Level: Beginner to advanced. Resistance can be adjusted based on your fitness level.
              • Instructions:
                • Sit on the machine and adjust the pads so they are comfortably positioned on your inner thighs.
                • Push the pads together with your inner thighs, squeezing at the point of contact.
                • Hold for a second and then slowly release back to the starting position.

              5 – Cable Hip Abduction

              Cable hip abduction is an exercise that isolates and strengthens your inner thighs using a cable machine. You attach an ankle cuff to the cable and secure it around one ankle. Standing sideways to the machine, you lift your leg out to the side against the cable’s resistance, working your inner thigh to bring your leg back down in a controlled motion. This allows for adjustable resistance and targets your inner thigh with good form.

                • Benefits: Targets inner thighs with adjustable resistance.
                • Fitness Level: Beginner to advanced. Resistance can be adjusted based on your fitness level.
                • Instructions:
                  • Attach an ankle cuff to one ankle and secure it around the cable machine at the appropriate height.
                  • Stand sideways to the cable machine with your feet hip-width apart.
                  • Keeping your core engaged and back straight, lift your leg out to the side as far as comfortably possible. Avoid arching your back.
                  • Lower your leg back down in a controlled manner and repeat on the other side.

                Tips for maximum benefits

                • Warm-up before your workout: Perform 5-10 minutes of light cardio and dynamic stretches to prepare your muscles.
                • Cool down after your workout: Include static stretches for your inner thighs and other major muscle groups.
                • Maintain proper form: Focus on quality over quantity. It’s better to do fewer repetitions with proper form than to sacrifice form for more reps.
                • Breathe: Inhale as you lower yourself down and exhale as you push through your heels to stand back up.
                • Progression: As you get stronger, consider increasing the number of sets and repetitions, adding weights, or performing the exercises with a slower pace to improve results and break through plateaus.

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