The inner thighs have become a source of controversy in popular culture thanks to arbitrary standards of beauty. Not surprisingly, the conversation hasn’t focused on how they play an integral role in your overall physical well-being. It’s time to shift the focus back to health and strength.
The exercises presented here are largely geared at strengthening and toning the inner thighs, an area that is notoriously tricky to target but affects a great deal of your daily movements. In an article for the American Council on Exercise, personal trainer Stephanie Thielen says, “While spot reduction is a myth, exercising the inner thigh area is actually pretty important — and just as important for men as it is for women. After all, the inner thighs, or adductor muscles, play an important role in helping pull the legs toward the center of the body as well as provide stability to the hip and knee joint.”
Bodyweight exercises are great for working the inner thighs, and Thielen shares five moves that will give this tough area the attention it needs while also challenging your core. Her variations on the inner thigh lift utilize small changes like using your top leg as added resistance to make a big difference in the effectiveness of the movement. She also has some ballet-inspired moves, including plié variations.
Interested in more barre fitness? Cosmopolitan teamed up with XTend Barre creator Andrea Rogers to bring you a gif workout of eight moves such as pliés and fouettes that promote strength and grace. While the gifs do a decent job of illustrating each move, I found myself drawing on my ballet class experience to properly position myself. This routine could work better if you have some ballet or barre exercise classes under your belt. Practicing proper form is essential here not just for safety but to ensure you’re benefitting from each movement.
Pilates fans who want to kick their mat work up a notch should try a Pilates ring, also known as a magic circle. In this video for About.com, Master Pilates instructor Denise Posnak advises those looking to purchase a Pilates ring to check the comfort of the pads as well as the resistance to ensure that you’re actually getting a proper workout. She also recommends purchasing your ring through a company that is well versed in making Pilates equipment. About.com’s Pilates expert, Marguerite Ogle, suggests consulting a Pilates instructor for advice and looking for a ring that has pads on both inside and outside to make the equipment suitable for more exercises.
Once you get your ring, check out Posnak’s short, instructional videos, which emphasize perfect form over repetitions. She explains every exercise in detail — ideal for those who are adept at mat Pilates and need some guidance with learning how to effectively use their ring at home. Of course, using a Pilates ring in your local studio, as Ogle suggests you do when shopping around, is a great way to get to know your equipment and become comfortable performing these moves on your own. Start with Posnak’s video highlighting her top three exercises for inner thighs using the ring, then check out her side kick series, an intense routine of exercises to sculpt your inner and outer thighs.
Skinny Mom’s exercise routine using the Pilates ring includes modified versions of some moves that you may already be familiar such as V-sits and hip bridges. The routine is a full-body blaster, but lots of attention is paid to shaping the thighs.
According to Yoga Journal, strong hip adductors, or inner thigh muscles, are an essential part of a safe, effective yoga practice. “When these muscles contract, they help draw your thighs together in poses like inversions and arm balances; when they stretch, they open up poses like Baddha Konasana [Bound Angle Pose] and Upavistha Kona-sana [Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend]. Whether stretching or contracting, they’re crucial in a wide variety of poses,” explains Julie Gudmestad, a physical therapist and Iyengar yoga teacher. Strengthening these muscles, says Gudmestad, also improves stability, which helps in asanas like Tree Pose. All that inner thigh work is going to leave your hips and thighs in need of some love. This series from Prevention features hip openers such as Hero Pose, Happy Baby and Frog Pose. There is a gentle, moderate and intense option for each area targeted so you can customize your stretching to fit your body’s needs and your level of experience.
These workouts rely on proper form and body awareness to be truly effective, so make sure you’re engaging your muscles and performing the moves correctly. Remember to check with your doctor before getting started, and in no time, you’ll be on your way to sculpting strong inner thighs.