If you're looking to tone up your outer thighs and glutes, look no further. Hip abduction exercises target these muscles. These exercises can be performed in a variety of positions and don't require any fancy equipment, so you can do them at home or anywhere else you have enough space to move around in. Although having a yoga mat or other padding nearby is handy for one of these exercises, it's not strictly necessary.
1. Side-Lying Leg Abduction
Hip abduction exercises can be performed from a side-lying position, working the muscles in your top leg. Work up to three sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on one side with your hips stacked directly on top of each other. You can bend the bottom knee if this is more comfortable for you. Keeping your toes pointed forward, lift your top leg up toward the ceiling as far as possible. Hold this position for two to three seconds, then lower back down. Repeat 10 times.
Read more: Proven Butt and Outer Thigh Exercises
2. Standing Leg Lift
Perform hip abduction from a standing position too, using gravity as resistance.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your toes pointed forward, lift one leg straight out to the side as far as possible. Hold this position for two to three seconds, then lower back down.
Repeat three sets of 10 repetitions on each leg. Remember to keep your torso straight during standing leg lifts. If you find yourself leaning, don't lift your leg quite so high.
3. Standing Hip Dip
The muscles on your outer thigh help keep your hips level when you walk and stand on one foot. Standing hip dips strengthen these muscles. For this exercise, you will need a book or similar item that is approximately two inches thick.
HOW TO DO IT: Place the book close to a wall or other sturdy object that you can hold on to for balance (if needed). Place your left foot on the book. Keeping your right knee straight, hike your hip up until your right foot comes off the ground. Hold this position for two to three seconds, then slowly lower your foot back to the ground. Repeat 10 times and switch legs.
Read more: The Benefits of Abductor Muscle Exercises
4. Squat With Leg Lift
Squats might not be the first exercise that comes to mind for your outer thighs, however this powerful movement also targets your hip abductor muscles. And if you're looking for a challenge with your leg abduction, this is it.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed forward. Keeping your back straight, push your hips backward as if you are going to sit in a chair. Do not allow your knees to bend in front of your toes. Squat as low as you comfortably can, and then stand back up. Raise your left leg out to the side. Do another squat with a leg lift on the other side.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Hip Conditioning Program"
- International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy: "An Examination of the Gluteal Muscle Activity Associated With Dynamic Hip Abduction and Hip External Rotation Exercise: A Systematic Review"
- OrthoInfo: "Hip Rehabilitation Exercises"
- Alternative HealthCare Solutions: "Closed Chain Hip Abduction"