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Keep Inner Thighs Toned and Strong with these Exceptional Exercises

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Introduction to Working out the Inner Thighs 

What’s the first muscle group you think of when you hear about leg training? Is it the dominant quadriceps? Or perhaps you’re partial to the posterior – your glutes and hamstrings? Or maybe even the often-ignored calves? These are important muscles to develop for lower body functionality and aesthetics. But there is another important muscle group to consider. Situated in the inner thigh area, the muscle group doesn’t seem all that important. But it is.

Though many people never think twice about them, your adductors play essential roles in joint and bone alignment, movement, functionality, and strength (1, 2). Most notably, as their name suggests – these muscles serve to adduct your legs, which means to bring them in and toward the midline of your body from the side. For example, if you lunge to the side, it’s precisely your adductors that work hard to bring you back to the starting position.

Beyond that, your adductors are involved in many activities, including running, squatting, and keeping the lower body stable. Your adductors also play an important role in pelvic stability, spinal alignment, and stability in the knees. If you are looking for ideas of other exercises that work the adductors, you can search for exercises by muscle group with the app Hevy.

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own inner thigh workouts with Hevy, and track your progress

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own inner thigh workouts with Hevy, and track your progress – for free

The Best Inner Thigh Workouts for Toned Legs 

Since no muscle truly works in isolation, we’ve designed the below two workouts in a way to allow for your adductors to work with other muscles. Most notably, this means your hamstrings and quadriceps. We can improve the adductors’ strength, functionality, and resilience while teaching them how to be team players.

The below two workouts feature several engaging exercises that emphasize your adductors in unique ways and through various planes and ranges of motion. We recommend doing both of these workouts together – for example, workout A on Monday and workout B on Thursday. Remember that your legs will get a lot of work from these workouts, so you don’t need to do much else for optimal growth. Other than some calve-specific exercises.

Workout A

This first workout is a healthy blend of exercises that allow you to emphasize your adductors but also help you develop your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. The best part is, you won’t need any special equipment for the exercises, apart from the rack, barbell, and weights you need for back squatting.

  • Barbell Back Squats – 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Lateral Lunges – 3 sets of 16-30 reps (total
  • Single-Leg Glute Bridge – 3 sets of 10-25 reps (per side)
  • Scissor Legs Plank – 2-3 sets of 5-20 reps

Workout B

This inner thigh workout works fine on its own, but you can use it to complement workout A. It also features excellent exercises for your adductors and also trains your other lower body musculature to some degree. To finish it off, we also have an exercise that raises your heart rate and improves your endurance, as well as strengthening your inner thighs.

  • Cossack Squat – 3-4 sets of 8-20 reps (total)
  • Side-Lying Squeeze Leg Lifts – 3 sets of 5-15 reps (per side)
  • Bodyweight Sumo Squats – 2-3 sets of 15-30 reps
  • Jumping Jacks – 3 sets of 30-60 seconds

Top 16 Exercises for Muscular Inner Thighs

1. Lateral Lunges

Lateral lunges are fantastic for emphasizing your adductors because they are forced to work hard to bring you back to the starting position on each rep. Plus, you can overload the exercise with extra weight for greater mechanical tension.

Muscles trained: Adductors, Hamstrings, Quads, and Glutes
Equipment: none

How to:

  • Stand tall, direct your gaze forward, and take a breath.
  • Step out laterally with your right foot as comfortably as you can and descend into a lunge.
  • Descend until your thigh is almost parallel with the floor.
  • Push through the heel to extend your knee and return to the starting position. Exhale near the end.
  • Step your left foot out and repeat.
  • Keep alternating between right and left until you finish.

2. Reverse Lunge

Like the lateral lunge, this variation also heavily emphasizes your adductors, forcing them to bring the back leg forward and in on every repetition.

Muscles trained: Adductors, Hamstrings, Quads, and Glutes
Equipment: none

How to:

  • Bring your hands to your hips, and then take a breath.
  • Lunge back with your right leg and land on your toes and ball of the foot.
  • Descend into the lunge, going down until your thigh is almost parallel with the floor.
  • Push through the lead foot to get up as you simultaneously bring your back leg forward.
  • Take another breath and lunge back with your left leg, repeating the movement.
  • Keep alternating between left and right.

3. Standing Lateral Leg Slide

This exercise is a fantastic exercise for any inner thigh workout because you don’t need any equipment. So long as you have a slick surface, you can make it work.

Muscles trained: Adductors, Hamstrings, Glutes, and Abs
Equipment: Sliding Disk but any slick surface would work

How to:

  • Stand tall with your legs shoulder-width apart. Have your left foot on a surface with good traction and your right one on a sliding disk.
  • Shift your weight on your left foot as you engage your abs, squeeze your glutes, and extend your arms forward for balance.
  • Breathe in and slide your right leg laterally as comfortably as you can until you feel a stretch in the inner thigh.
  • Exhale and bring your leg back to the starting position. 
  • Once finished, place the disk underneath your other foot and repeat.

4. Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are great for adductor development because they force these muscles to bring your legs in on every repetition. Plus, the jumping jack improves our endurance and muscular coordination.

Muscles trained: Quadriceps, Adductors, Glutes, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs, Upper Back, Chest, and Shoulders
Equipment: none

How to:

  • Stand up straight and have your feet together and arms to your sides. At the same time, you are maintaining a slight bend in your knees and elbows.
  • Take a breath, hop, and extend your feet wider than your shoulders. Simultaneously, extend your arms laterally and over your head.
  • Hop again and bring your arms to your sides and feet together as you exhale.
  • Keep hopping between the two positions at a sustainable pace, making sure to breathe regularly.

5. Single-Leg Glute Bridge

The glute bridge is among the simplest and most -effective exercises you can use to train your hamstrings and glutes. It’s also great for emphasizing the adductor of your straight leg, especially if you squeeze something such as a foam roller while you do the movement.

Muscles trained: Glutes, Hamstrings, Adductors, Quadriceps, Lower Back, and Abs
Equipment: Foam Roller or Ball (for squeezing)

How to:

  • Lie on an exercise mat, extend your legs, and have your arms to your sides.
  • Bend one knee and place the foot flat on the floor. 
  • Optional: Place a foam roller or squishy ball between your lower thighs.
  • Engage your abs, take a breath, and push through the heels to raise your hips off the floor. At the same time, raise your straight leg off the floor and in the direction of your hips.
  • Lower yourself, exhaling on the way down.
  • Once finished, repeat with your other foot.

6. Cossack Squat

The Cossack squat highlights the abductor as you squat to the side and forces the opposite adductor to work hard and return you to the starting position.

Muscles trained: Quads, Adductors, Abductors, Hamstrings, Glutes, and Abs
Equipment: none

How to:

  • Stand tall and position your feet wider than shoulder level with toes pointing forward.
  • Bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and take a breath.
  • Shift to the left and descend into a squat as deep as your hip mobility would allow.
  • Push through your left heel to rise to stand and exhale
  • Shift to the right and do another squat.
  • Keep alternating between left and right.

7. Thigh Squeezes

This exercise is one of the few exercises you can do in many ways, and it works brilliantly every time. Place something between your legs (such as a foam roller) and squeeze it, forcing your adductors to engage.

Muscles trained: Adductors and Glutes
Equipment: Ball or Foam Roller

How to:

  • Stand tall and place a ball or foam roller between your thighs, just above your knees.
  • Take a breath and squeeze the object hard for three to four seconds.
  • Relax your legs a bit as you exhale.
  • Repeat.

You can also do these seated or lying on the floor.

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own inner thigh workouts with Hevy, and track your progress

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own inner thigh workouts with Hevy, and track your progress – for free

8. Scissor Legs Plank

This exercise is great because it forces your entire core to work hard, strengthens your adductors, improves your balance, and requires equipment.

Muscles trained: Abs, Entire Back, Arms, Chest, Shoulders, Glutes, Hamstrings, and Adductors
Equipment: Sliding Disks but any slick surface would work

How to:

  • Get down on the floor and place a pair of sliding disks underneath your feet.
  • Move your upper body forward and transition into an elbow plank position. Position your elbows directly underneath your shoulders. Have your shoulders, hips, and ankles in a straight line—this is your starting position.
  • Take a breath, make sure you’ve engaged your abs, and slowly bring one leg out until you feel an inner thigh stretch. Keep the other leg stationary.
  • Slide it back in, leaving a few inches of distance in-between, and exhale.
  • Repeat the motion with your other leg.
  • Keep alternating sliding them out and in for as long as you can.

9. Inverted Thigh Opener

This exercise is a great bodyweight exercise that comes incredibly close to truly isolating your inner thigh muscles. It works great for burning out your adductors and causing significant metabolic stress, making it an excellent finisher movement.

Muscles trained: Adductors, Glutes, and Abs
Equipment: none

How to:

  • Lie down with knees bent and have your feet flat on the floor.
  • Straighten your left leg and raise it toward the ceiling at about 45 degrees.
  • Take a breath, engage your abs, and move your leg laterally to the left.
  • Extend as far as you comfortably can and bring it back. Then, keep moving it in and out.
  • Once finished, extend your right leg and do the same number of repetitions.

10. Sumo Deadlifts

Thanks to the stance and foot position, the sumo deadlift puts our adductors in mechanical advantage, allowing them to contribute more during hip and knee extension (4).

Muscles trained: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, Adductors, Arms, Back, Chest, and Shoulders
Equipment: Barbell and Weight Plates

How to:

  • Stand over the barbell with a wide stance and toes pointed slightly out. Your shins should be a couple of inches from the barbell.
  • As you bend forward and grab the bar with an even overhand grip at shoulder level
  • Bring your chest out and straighten your back. This stance will create a solid pulling position and bring the bar against your shins.
  • Take a breath and pull as you dig your heels into the floor and engage your quads to extend your knees. Near the top, raise your hips to finish the lift. The barbell should go up in a straight line.
  • Slowly bring the barbell back to the floor as you exhale.

11. Side Step-Ups

The classic step-up is fantastic for your quadriceps and glutes. However, this variation is slightly different and allows you to emphasize your adductors since it forces inward leg movement.

Muscles trained: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Adductors, and Abs
Equipment: Box, Stool, Chair, or Steps

How to:

  • Stand next to a plyo box or stool with your right side facing it.
  • Take a breath, extend your right leg and place your foot on top of the object, leaving some space for your left foot.
  • Push through your right heel to raise yourself and place your left foot next to the right.
  • Exhale as you bring your left foot back to the floor. Repeat the movement however many times you wish.
  • Once finished, rotate and do the same thing for your left side.

12. Barbell Back Squat

While most people consider the back squat a pure quadricep exercise, it’s also great for your inner thigh workouts. In addition, squats are fantastic for strengthening our adductors, and research shows a significant growth in as little as ten weeks (3).

Muscles trained: Quadriceps, Glutes, Hamstrings, Adductors, Abductors, Back, Abs, Shoulders, and Chest
Equipment: Squat Rack or Stand, Barbell, and Weight Plates

How to:

  • Set the barbell at collarbone height, and grab it with an even overhand grip. Your hand position should be slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Tuck under the bar and place it on your upper traps.
  • Tighten your body and extend your knees to unrack the bar.
  • Take a couple of steps back, bring your chest out, and take a breath.
  • Descend into a squat and go down as much as possible – ideally until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
  • Push through your heels and squat back up, exhaling near the top.

13. Adductor Machine Squeezes

Using the adductor machine is a fantastic way to isolate and strengthen the inner thigh area. The reason for this is because of the significant range of motion and good overloading potential.

Muscles trained: Adductors and Glutes
Equipment: Adductor Machine

How to:

  • Adjust the weight on the machine and place the pads in a position that allows you to place your inner thighs on them.
  • Sit down, place the pads on your inner thighs, just over your knees, and grab the handles for stability.
  • Take a breath and squeeze the pads in with your thighs.
  • Once together, return the pads to the starting position, exhaling near the end.

14. Side-Lying Squeeze Lifts

This exercise is fantastic, especially for beginners, because it’s simple to learn. Plus, it does a great job of training your adductors and abductors, leading to more balanced development.

Muscles trained: Adductors, Abductors, Glutes, Hamstrings, and Abs
Equipment: Ball or another object to squeeze

How to:

  • Lie on your side and place an object (such as a ball) between your ankles.
  • Place your forearm flat on the floor for balance.
  • Take a breath and try to raiseyour legs toward the ceiling while keeping the object pinched between your feet.
  • Go up as much as you can, relax, and breathe out.
  • Once finished on one side, flip over and do the exercise for your other side.

15. Stability Ball Hamstring Squeeze

This movement is excellent for activating the adductors and forcing them to work hard from start to finish. As an added benefit, we also get to train our hamstrings and glutes.

Muscles trained: Hamstrings, Glutes, Adductors, and Lower Back
Equipment: Stability Ball

How to:

  • Place a stability ball between your legs and lie on the floor with your face down.
  • Squeeze the ball hard between your lower legs and place your forearms flat on the floor for balance.
  • Take a breath and lift your legs toward the ceiling without bending your knees. At the same time, keep squeezing the ball.
  • Lower your legs to the floor, exhale, and repeat.

How to Stretch Your Inner Thighs? 

Besides having regular inner thigh workouts, we also need to stretch the adductor area. Stretching your thighs is vital for injury prevention and improving our ability to do various exercises. For instance, you might have good hip mobility, but poor adductor flexibility can prevent you from doing exercises like squats (and variations) and deadlifts.

Here are three excellent stretches for your inner thighs:

  • Butterfly Stretch 
    Sit on the floor and place the bottom of your feet against one another. With your knees bent and to your sides, pull your feet in until you feel an intense stretch in your inner thighs. Hold the position for 30-60 seconds and release.
  • Lateral Leg Swings 
    Hold onto something for balance and dig your heels into the floor. Then begin to swing one leg laterally, similar to a pendulum, without allowing your torso to twist in the direction of the swing. Perform up to 20 repetitions for each leg
  • Deep Squat Holds
    Descend into a squat with your heels firmly planted on the floor. Bring your arms in and place your elbows against your inner thighs, just over your knees. Push your thighs out as much as you can and hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds at a time.

Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot of information today, so let’s do a quick recap:

  • Though many people choose to focus on other seemingly more important muscle groups, our adductors play a considerable role in our functionality, longevity, and athletic ability. 
  • There are many ways to put together effective and fun inner thigh workouts. So long as you make a conscious effort, you can pick from a wide range of fantastic exercises and put together routines. To help with create and track of your routines, try using a weight lifting tracker app.

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own inner thigh workouts with Hevy, and track your progress

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own inner thigh workouts with Hevy, and track your progress – for free

  • Inner thigh exercises come in different shapes and sizes. Some are simple and require no equipment; others are complex and simultaneously train multiple muscle groups. Both types of exercises have their place in your training.
  • You can dedicate an entire workout for your inner thighs each week, similar to the two we shared above – A and B. If you are using the push-pull-legs, 5×5 workout or 5 day split workout programs, these can be integrated on your leg day/days. Another option that can work great is to add some adductor-specific work when training your legs. These workouts are beneficial if you’re particularly busy and can’t make it to the gym that often. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. What are the best exercises to work out the inner thighs?

There isn’t a selection of several ‘best’ exercises for your inner thighs. It mostly comes down to your preferences and which activities allow you to stimulate and overload your inner thighs safely.

2. What workouts are best to burn inner thigh fat? 

There aren’t any. Losing inner thigh fat comes down to losing fat from your entire body, establishing a calorie deficit by eating well, and exercising regularly (5, 6).

3. Can you work out your inner thighs at home? 

Absolutely. As you saw above, there are plenty of fantastic adductor exercises, many of which require minimal to no equipment.

4. Best inner thigh machine workout? 

The hip adductor machine is excellent, and you can use it for fantastic inner thigh workouts. But you don’t have to limit yourself to it alone because there is plenty of bodyweight and free-weight exercises you can use.

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