Toned inner thighs are not only sexy, but they serve an important role in stabilizing your pelvis and promoting good balance. Understanding how to effectively target your inner thigh muscles will help you make the most of the available exercise equipment at your gym.
Muscles of the Inner Thigh
The muscles of your inner thigh, known as the hip adductors, are a group of six distinct muscles used to draw your leg toward the midline of your body. They also assist in hip inward and outward rotation, and in hip flexion and extension. The adductors help to stabilize your pelvis when standing and walking. In addition to action at the hip, the adductor magnus, one of the largest muscles in the human body, acts at the knee to promote stability, and to aid in knee flexion and inward rotation. (reference 4)
Two commonly used exercise machines for hip adduction include the seated hip adduction/abduction machine (reference 6) and the standing multi-hip machine. The shortcoming of seated hip adduction exercises is that you rarely use the adductor muscles in a seated position. The adductors are primarily engaged while standing, walking or running, or moving side to side in sports. (reference 4) The standing multi-hip machine is a better bet for functionally strengthening the adductor muscles. Make sure to adjust the platform so your hip is level with the pivot point on the machine. Keep your hips stationary, and don't rotate your trunk.(reference 3)
Cables and Elastic Resistance
Standing hip adduction using a cable machine with an ankle cuff or foot holster, or standing adduction with elastic resistance at the ankle, will effectively recruit your inner thigh muscles. Try to keep your hips level and avoid trunk rotation. If necessary, hold onto a stationary object for balance. Begin with your leg abducted to the side and draw your ankle toward your midline in a smooth controlled motion, crossing in front of your standing leg. Resist as you slowly return to your start position. (reference 2, 5)
Use ankle weights or a body bar balanced across your foot to perform side-lying adduction. Lie on your side and stack your hips. Bend the knee of the top leg and plant your foot on the floor in front of you. Extend your bottom leg with your ankle flexed and your foot parallel to the floor. Lift slowly toward the ceiling, and lower with control. (reference 1)