Usually when we strength train our muscles, we focus on the big movers of the shoulders, hip, back and abs. But there are several muscle groups on our body that help to keep us stable and moving safe. The adductor muscles, also known as the inner thighs, is one such group. Inner leg workouts are usually an afterthought and not always a main focus of any exercise regime. Here are three exercises you should incorporate into any workout you do to tone, strengthen and develop flexibility through the important adductor muscles.
Improving Your Inner Leg Workouts
Toned inner thighs are a hard thing to fake. It’s easy to let these muscles atrophy, or get weak, by not engaging them as much as you should. If you have a desk job and find yourself sitting for long periods of time throughout the day, you could have weaker inner thigh muscles than you realize.
The great news is, you don’t need to exercise hours a week to tone and tighten these muscles. Inner thigh workouts typically affect a group of muscles known as the adductors. These muscles include the adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, gracilis, and pectineus.
Fortunately, you need not worry about targeting one of these specific muscles. Because your inner thigh muscles are relatively small, when you target one of these muscles, you hit them all. It’s almost impossible to do one of these exercises without engaging through each of these five muscles.
Below are three solid exercises that are a perfect fit for all inner leg workouts. You can incorporate one or all the next time you exercise.
These are equipment-free exercises, too! All you need is your body and some comfortable clothing. Nothing more.
Each of the exercises include tips to improve how you perform each of the movements, as well as suggested repetitions. Stick with these exercises several times a week and your inner legs will be toned and tightened in no time!
3 Exercises to Include in Your Inner Leg Workouts
This exercise is great at strengthening not just the inner thighs, but the outer thighs, too.
The plié squat gets its name from a position often associated with ballet, but this deep strengthening exercises targets the inner thighs, helping to tone and strengthen. This is also a great exercise to do if you want to increase the amount of flexibility you have through your inner thighs as well. Naturally, the plié squat take the #1 position for exercises to do for a great inner leg workout.
Because the inner thighs are made up of a group of smaller muscles (as opposed to the bigger muscles of the glutes and quads), they’re fatigued easier. This translates to a quick accumulation of lactic acid in those muscles, triggering that burning sensation you feel when you do an exercise for a long time.
Here is how to do the exercise:
- Begin standing in a modified plié position, with heels just outside of hip-width apart and toes pointed out at about 45-degree-angle.
- Drop down deep into a squatting position while maintaining foot position.
- Hold for one second, then slowly make your way back to standing. Repeat until you complete the exercise.
Tip: Make sure your knees stay out over your toes (think of pushing your knees out). Concentrate on squeezing your bottom as you come to the starting position.
Good Results: 3 sets of 20 – 30
Great Results: 3 sets of 40 – 50
Glute Bridge with Prop Squeeze
More often than not, a glute bridge is associated with the glutes, or your bottom. But when you modify this exercise, even just a little bit, it’s easy to target the inner thighs. One of the great things about doing a glute bridge with a prop is that it gets your body to use multiple muscle groups at the same time. This may not sound very important, but what this means is it greatly improves your body’s muscular neurocircuitry and coordination for engaging this muscle group – all at once – whether you’re doing a glute bridge, standing up from a chair or climbing a set of stairs.
When you improve the muscular neurocircuitry, you literally train your brain to engage specific muscles more often. So even when you’re not doing a glute bridge, you’re engaging the muscles.
Here’s how to do the exercise:
- Start by lying on your back with your knees bent. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
- Grab any sort of a small prop. This could be a small ball, a water bottle, a hardcover book, or even a small pillow.
- Place the prop in between your inner thighs and lift your hips up into the air as high as possible.
- With the prop in place, squeeze inward, bringing your knees in closer to one another.
- Keep your hips in the air and release the squeeze.
- Repeat through the duration of the exercise.
Tip: Try to engage your glutes the entire time that you’re squeezing inward. This will help to strengthen the muscles of not just your inner thighs, but also your gluteus maximus.
Good Results: 3 sets of 20 – 30
Great Results: 3 sets of 30 to 40
Developing strength through the inner thighs is very important. One of the reasons why is because it helps to support your body’s mobility. Having good mobility simply means that you can move around better. If you can move around better, you’re less likely to get injured.
The final exercise that made the list for great inner leg workouts is the lateral lunge. Usually when we move, we do so in a linear fashion. In other words, we’re more likely to move in a straight line. The lateral lunge is a functional movement that strengthens and stretches the inner thighs by moving out in a lateral, or side lunge position.
Maintaining lateral movement is important to maintaining hip joint mobility. Since the inner thigh muscles are closely tied into the stability of the hip joint, the lateral lunge is an important exercise to do.
Here’s how to do the exercise:
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart.
- Take a big side step to your right, lunging to your right side.
- Engaging through your inner thighs, step back to center and repeat on your right side though, then follow the same sequence on your left side.
Tip: When you lunge to one side, keep your toes facing forward. You will want to turn them out, but to truly engage through your inner thighs, you’ll need to keep your toes facing straight ahead. As you come down into the lunge, drop your hips as low as you would naturally go for a squat. The deeper you go, the greater the engagement through the inner thighs.
Good Results: 3 sets of 15 on each side, alternating
Great Results: 3 sets of 20 on each side, alternating
You might be a little sore after doing one or all of these exercises. Focus on performing at least one group of these exercises in your inner leg workouts at least three times a week on non-consecutive days. Be sure to stretch and drink plenty of water on the days you’re taking off. This will help you recover and feel great for the next round of workouts!