Toning the muscles that line the inner thighs improves the overall look of your legs. The major muscles of the inner thigh include the adductor longus, magnus and brevis. These muscles are responsible for pulling the leg toward the central line of the body. There are effective inner thigh exercises you can do at home or at the gym, without weights.
Plie squats are a ballet-inspired movement. While adding external resistance -- in the form of a weighted bar or dumbbells -- makes this move more challenging, working with weights isn't essential. If you perform enough repetitions without resistance, you'll feel your inner thighs working hard. Plie squats are a compound exercise -- meaning they work multiple lower body muscles simultaneously -- and they're recommended by "Dance Spirit Magazine" as an effective inner-thigh exercise. Standing with a straight spine, position your legs wider than shoulder-width apart and direct your toes outward. Squat down until your thighs are just parallel to the floor, knees positioned over your ankles. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds, pulsing your thighs slightly. Slowly return to the starting position by contracting your inner thigh muscles and pushing your weight through your heels. Repeat for a total of one to three sets of eight to 12 reps.
Lying Hip Adduction
The American Council on Exercise includes lying hip adduction on its list of recommended thigh exercises. As with plie squats, adding external resistance is optional but not required. Lie on the floor on one side of your body with your hips evenly stacked. Support the weight of your upper body on the forearm closest to the floor. Keeping both legs extended, draw your lower leg in front of your upper leg and relax both feet on the floor in a neutral position. Slowly raise your bottom leg as high as possible, directing the inner thigh toward the ceiling, without letting your hips roll forward or backward. Hold the raised position briefly before lowering the foot and leg to the floor. Repeat eight to 12 times for a total of one to three sets before switching sides.
While traditional "step-ups" target the front and back thigh muscles, or the quadriceps and hamstrings, you can perform a variation of the basic exercise to better emphasize your inner thighs. Traditional step-ups involve using a box or step stool, but to work your inner thighs, you need access to a staircase. To perform this exercise -- known as cross-over step-ups -- stand at the bottom of a staircase with your right side adjacent to the bottom step. Grip the railing lightly for support. Step up onto the first stair with your right foot. Immediately cross your left leg over the right to reach the next stair. Continue crossing one leg over the other until you reach the top of the staircase. Start again at the bottom to work the other side, stepping up with the left foot and crossing the right leg over the left to reach the next step.