You might think of your inner thighs as that one little body part that you never seem to be able to target or firm up. But we challenge you to start thinking of them as the six (yes, six!) muscles that deserve way more inner thigh workout love.
Also called your hip adductors, your inner thigh muscles pull your thigh bone (femur) toward the center of your body. Think: squeezing your thighs together. But they're also working when you're walking, running, taking the stairs or making heavy lifts in the gym. They're what keeps you from randomly falling into splits all of the time! They support and stabilize your hips and help reduce your risk of aches, pains and injury.
One of the best inner thigh workouts you can do, this at-home routine strengthens and sculpts your hip adductors — all you need is an optional pair of dumbbells or a kettlebell.
Move 1: Inner Thigh Lift
- Lie on your right side with your hips and leg stacked.
- Cross your left leg over your right, putting your foot flat on the floor about a foot in front of your right knee.
- Keeping your knee straight, raise your right leg up toward the ceiling.
- Pause, then reverse the motion to lower your leg back to the floor.
- Switch sides.
Move 2: Inner Thigh Circle
- Lay on your right side with your legs stacked.
- Cross your left leg over the right, placing the foot flat on the ground about a foot in front of the right knee.
- With the knee straight, raise your right leg a foot off the ground.
- Start moving your right leg in dinner plate-sized clockwise circles.
- Do all reps, then repeat moving counterclockwise.
- Switch sides.
Although this is a leg exercise, you don't want your upper body to totally relax during the move. Keep your core tight to ensure your back stays strong.
Move 3: Sumo Squat
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your feet turned out at 45 degrees.
- Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your body with your palms facing each other. (You can also hold a single dumbbell or kettlebell.)
- Bend your knees to lower yourself down into a squat. Keep your chest up and back flat. The weights should almost touch the floor.
- Press through your heels to return to standing.
Move 4: Side Squat
- Stand with your legs slightly farther than shoulder-width apart.
- Hold a single dumbbell or kettlebell at chest height.
- Keeping your right foot in place, leg straight, bend your left knee and push your hips back.
- Squat down on your left leg as low as you can go without letting your back round.
- Press through your left heel to return to standing.
- Switch sides.
This inner thigh exercise requires a lot of hip mobility. Only lower as far as feels comfortable!
Move 5: Clamshell
- Lie on one side, stacking your legs on top of one another, knees and hips bent at 90 degrees.
- Press your bottom leg into the floor and, with your heels pressed together, squeeze your glutes to raise your top knee toward the ceiling.
- Raise your knee as high as you can without letting your pelvis rock forward or backward.
- Pause, then slowly squeeze your inner thighs to draw your top knee back to the starting position and repeat.
- Do all reps, then switch sides.
There are plenty of clamshell exercise variations you can try. To make this move harder, loop a mini band above your knees and open and close your legs against the resistance.
- Advances in Nutrition: "Protein Intake Greater than the RDA Differentially Influences Whole-Body Lean Mass Responses to Purposeful Catabolic and Anabolic Stressors: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis"
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The Truth About Metabolism"