A 20-Minute Workout for Those Hard-to-Target Inner Thighs

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You can't spot reduce, but you can build stronger, leaner legs with exercise and dietary changes.
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If you've tried everything for toned, slimmer inner thighs but they still lack shape, you're not alone. Other than the midsection, the inner thigh muscles seem to be one of the more troublesome areas to lean out.

While spot reducing — decreasing fat from a specific part of the body — is a myth, you can focus extra energy on certain muscles and up the chances that you will see better results from your efforts.

What’s With the Elusive Thigh Gap?

Your lower body consists of the large muscles known as the quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus maximus. It's also home to the inner thigh muscles or the adductors, which are five muscles located on the inside of your thigh.

It's these inner thigh muscles that so many people target in an effort to obtain the elusive thigh gap — something social media has popularized and elevated to the level of the much-desired six-pack abs.

"Some women will have a natural thigh gap if they are genetically small and have a smaller pelvis, yet other women, even if they try with diet and exercises, may not be able to achieve a thigh gap," says Paulami Guha, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist, and advisor for eMediHealth.

This points to the idea that the thigh gap has a genetic component. "Even if you have a normal weight, but have a wider pelvis, (which is genetic and varies among different races), you might not have a thigh gap," Dr. Guha says.

Bottom line: Eat healthy, do cardio, strength train and if you're at a healthy weight, don't worry if your thighs touch.

Read more: Filling in the Gaps About Thigh Gaps

The Right Way to Work Your Inner Thighs

Thigh and butt fat are often very stubborn and difficult to lose, and typically the last area to lose fat even with rigorous exercises or diet (though again, this depends on your genetics).

But crash dieting or drastically slashing calories isn't the way to drop body fat and get slimmer thighs, Dr. Guha says. Not only is it unhealthy, but you might not give you the desired result, as everyone's body is shaped differently depending on their genes.

If you want to target your legs, and more specifically, your inner thighs, you're better off making a few healthy changes to your diet and staying consistent with cardio and strength training. While this isn't a guarantee that you'll lose fat or inches in this area, it is a more effective way to reduce overall body fat.

By combining compound exercises like squats, lunges and deadlifts with specific isolation moves that target the inner thighs, you can tone and strengthen this stubborn area of your lower body. "Plus, performing various lower-body exercises is a great way to strengthen and stabilize your legs," says iFit Trainer, Mecayla Froerer, NASM-certified personal trainer.

Though it isn't possible to control where you burn fat on your bodies, Froerer says maintaining strong legs is critical to living an active lifestyle. "Targeting your inner thighs (adductors) in a workout is fundamental to improving total-body balance and stability and also aids in stabilizing your knee and hip joints."

Read more: How to Tone Your Hips and Thighs One Minute at a Time

Try This 20-Minute Inner Thigh Workout

For the best results and a balanced workout, Froerer recommends combining cardio with strength training. Hitting the pavement for a run or performing cardio on gym equipment such as a treadmill, rowing machine or stationary bike can offer a variety of cross-training movements meant to focus on your lower body and inner thigh strength. Plus, the cardio element helps to strengthen your heart and burn calories.

Here, Froerer shares a 20-minute workout for those hard-to-target inner thighs.

Warm-Up

Do: 3 to 5 minutes of easy cardio drills (jumping jacks, jump rope, high knees, jogging in place, etc.) and dynamic stretches

Circuit 1

Do: Each exercise for the prescribed number of reps or amount of time. Rest for 45 to 60 seconds at the end of one round, then repeat once more for two total rounds.

  • 10 plate lateral lunges (right leg)
  • 10 plate lateral lunges (left leg)
  • 20 sumo squat hold with pulses on toes
  • 1 minute of speed skaters

Move 1: Plate Lateral Lunges

You can use paper plates, gliders or towels for this movement (anything that will slide on the floor you're on).

  1. Stand tall and plant your right foot on a plate, glider or towel. The other foot will stay planted on the ground.
  2. Push your hips back and slowly reach your right leg outward into a lateral lunge stance. Go until leg is fully extended, or a comfortable stretch.
  3. Slowly pull inward in order to engage your inner thighs and return to the starting position.

Move 2: Sumo Squat Hold With Pulses on Toes

  1. Lower into a sumo squat with your feet wider than hip-width apart toes pointing out at a 45-degree angle. Your knees should point out toward your toes but stay over your ankles.
  2. Rise up on your toes.
  3. Perform a small pulse up and down, moving about an inch, while staying on your toes.

Move 3: Speed Skaters

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Jump laterally to the right, landing on your right foot, crossing your left leg behind you diagonally.Your left arm will swing across your body and your right arm to swing behind you.
  3. Jump immediately to the left and switch your arms and legs.

Read more: The Only 4 Exercises You Need for Strong, Sculpted Glutes

Circuit 2

Do: Each exercise for the prescribed number of reps or amount of time. Rest for 45 to 60 seconds at the end of one round, then repeat once more for two total rounds.

  • 30 inner thigh leg lifts (right leg)
  • 20 inner thigh circles (right leg)
  • 30 inner thigh leg lifts (left leg)
  • 20 inner thigh circles (left leg)
  • 1 minute power lunge to knee drive (30 seconds each leg)

Move 1: Inner Thigh Leg Lift

  1. Lie on your side with your bottom leg extended.
  2. Cross your top leg over your bottom leg and rest your knee on the floor.
  3. Lift the bottom leg about six inches off the floor.
  4. Pause, return to the starting position and repeat.

Move 2: Inner Thigh Circles

  1. Get in the inner thigh leg lift position.
  2. Lift the bottom leg about six inches off the floor.
  3. Draw tiny circles with the raised leg, 10 times in each direction.
  4. Lower to the starting position.

Move 3: Power Lunge to Knee Drive

  1. Stand with feet together.
  2. Take a step back with your right foot into a lunge position. Pause.
  3. Drive your right knee up to a standing position and continue until you lift your right leg to a 90-degree angle. Repeat.

Circuit 3

Tip

This segment will focus on burning out one leg at a time. You'll be targeting the inner and outer thighs as well as the glutes. If you find it uncomfortable to kneel for long periods of time, put a pad or towel underneath your knees to add support.

Do: Complete one round, rest for 60 seconds and repeat for two total rounds.

  • 30 seconds of donkey kicks (right leg)
  • 30 seconds of fire hydrants (right leg)
  • 30 seconds of rainbow kicks (right leg)
  • 30 seconds of donkey kicks (left leg)
  • 30 seconds of fire hydrants (left leg)
  • 30 seconds of rainbow kicks (left leg)

Move 1: Donkey Kicks

  1. Get down on your hands and knees with both shoulder-width apart, core engaged.
  2. Looking down at the floor, lift your right let up behind you, keeping your knee bent. Continue raising until your leg is in line with your body and your foot is parallel to the ceiling.
  3. Lower the knee without touching the floor and return to the starting position. Repeat.

Move 2: Fire Hydrants

  1. Get down on your hands and knees with both shoulder-width apart, core engaged.
  2. Keep your hips still and raise your left leg out to the side of your body (knee stays bent).
  3. Pause, then bring your leg back to the ground. Repeat.

Move 3: Rainbow Kicks

  1. Get down on your hands and knees with both shoulder-width apart, core engaged.
  2. Raise your right leg up and out to the side and lower until your toe touches ground.
  3. Raise this leg as high as you can, point your toe and form an arch. Bring the leg over your other leg and touch the ground with your toes.
  4. Return to the side position and repeat.
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