Strengthening your outer thighs, or hip abductors, with targeted exercises is beneficial; you use them each time you move your legs away from the center of your body. Ice skating, and defensive play in football and basketball come to mind. If you store excess fat in this area -- think saddlebags -- also perform 150 to 300 minutes of moderate cardio a week. When your body fat reduces, your toned outer thighs will show.
Lying Hip Abduction
Lying hip abduction effectively works your hip abductors, which includes your tensor fasciae latae and your glutes. This exercise is done while lying on your side on the floor with your legs extended, your hips stacked, and your head propped up on your hand. You then raise your upper leg as high as you can and lower it back down. Do this eight to 12 times before switching sides, and complete two to three sets. For an extra challenge, wear ankle weights, or hold a dumbbell on the outside of the working thigh.
Standing Hip Abduction
Standing hip abduction works your outer thighs, and also challenges your core to stabilize your body. During the exercise, you stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. You then raise one foot off the floor, and lift it out to your side up to a 45-degree angle, and then return to the starting point. After eight to 12 reps, switch sides and repeat the exercise, aiming to finish two to three sets. For an added challenge, lift your leg against the resistance of an exercise band that's cuffed to the ankle of your working leg, wear ankle weights, or do the exercise while balancing on the unstable surface of a half dome.
Seated Hip Abduction
If you have access to a gym, look for the lever machine in which you can do seated hip abductions. This machine can work your outer thighs by offering resistance as you separate your legs. During the range of motion, you're sitting on the seat of the apparatus with pads against your outer legs. After selecting the desired resistance in the weight stack, separate your legs as far apart as you can. Then slowly move them back to the starting point. Two or three sets of eight to 12 reps can make you feel the burn.
Lunges and Squats
Functional, multi-joint exercises are some of the best leg exercises you can do, because in addition to your outer thighs, they also work the other large muscles in your lower body all the way from your buttocks down to your calves. These exercises can include lunges and squats. During lunges, you come into a split stance, bend your knees and lower your hips. When your knees are bent 90 degrees, return to the starting point. Squats basically mimic the motion you make when sitting on a chair and standing back up. Variations can include side lunges, walking lunges, lunges with one foot on a platform, wall squats, and front and back squats. Perform two to three sets and eight to 12 reps for each exercise.
- Athletic Quickness: Sports Anatomy Lesson #7: Hip Abductor Muscles
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Lying Hip Abduction
- American Council on Exercise: Standing Hip Abduction
- ExRx.net: Lever Seated Hip Abduction
- Ask the Trainer: Best Leg Exercises