Looking to get knockout legs? Your thighs may seem like a daunting place to start, but they are actually easier to strengthen, elongate, and get lean than you might realize. As veteran personal trainer Evelyn Nunlee tells Good Housekeeping, “Many of your major thigh muscles — your hamstrings and quadriceps as well as your butt — are actually easy to tone.”
These five exercises will have your inner and outer thighs feeling the burn in no time. Try them out for a few weeks and see the results!
1. Squat With Ball
Squats are a classic inner thigh exercise and are among the most effective ways to tone the trouble area at the top of your legs. To do this move from Fitness, place an exercise ball between the wall and the curve of your lower back. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees and lower yourself 5 to 10 inches, keeping hips square and shoulders level. Hold position for 3 seconds, then stand back up. Begin by doing five reps, then work up to 12. Rest 30 seconds, then do one more set.
2. Wall Sits With Leg Extension
To perform this move from FitSugar, stand with your back against a wall and place your feet out about 2 feet in front of you — about hip distance apart from each other. Bend legs and slide your back down the wall until your knees are at 90-degree angles. For proper alignment, knees should be set over ankle joints. Engage your core and extend your left leg out into the air. Hold for 15 seconds, then lower it. Repeat this motion by slowly lifting your right leg out and holding for 15 seconds. Continue performing for one minute. This leg extension will work your thighs, quads, and core.
3. Tip-Top Toner
Here is yet another great variation on your standard squat exercise. To complete this move from Self, stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, toes pointed out. Place hands on hips, then squat until thighs are parallel to the floor. Lift both heels, then lower them to complete one rep. Repeat to work your butt, thighs, and calves.
4. Single-Leg Circle
Lie back on an exercise mat with your arms by your sides, palms facing down. Point your left foot upward, toes toward the ceiling, then rotate your leg slightly outward, writes Fitness. Inhale, then “trace” a circle on the ceiling using your left leg. Do this by moving the whole leg, but be sure to keep your hips still, keeping them squarely on the ground. Trace the circle shape five times in a clockwise direction, then repeat counter-clockwise. Switch legs and repeat exercise five times.
For an added challenge, try switching up from a simple circle to spelling out the alphabet with each leg.
5. Seated Adduction/Leg Extensions
This move, developed by personal trainer Jenn Zerling, can be done conveniently in an office chair, easy chair, or right on the side of your bed. Zerling tells Oprah that the prime movers in this exercise are the inner leg adductors, but the outer leg muscles — including the glutes and thighs — are engaged, as well, in order to maintain stability. Take a rolled towel or medicine ball and put it between your knees. Keep feet flat on the ground, knees facing forward, with hands on hips. Engage core muscles and lift knees up about 2 inches in the direction of your chest. Next, extend legs outward and squeeze inner thighs. Hold this squeeze for three counts, then release. Repeat move 15 times.