Best inner and outer thigh exercises

10+ Best Inner and Outer Thigh Exercises for Strong, Sculpted Legs

Do your fitness goals include toned, strong legs? Do you want more inner thigh strength?

To obtain strong inner thighs, you’ll need a workout routine combining thigh exercises, strength training, and cardio workouts.

But remember! Spot training is a myth.

While you can target a specific area of the body for fat loss, such as your inner thighs, this doesn’t mean all of the fat in these areas will magically disappear with one workout.

Building the muscle in that area will however boost your resting metabolism while shaping and burning off the excess fat faster.

An effective way to reach this goal is to work your entire lower body, specifically, your inner thighs, outer thighs, quadriceps, and glutes.

Shapely legs aren’t the only reason to target your inner thigh muscles.

If they’re weak, you can have a muscle imbalance which is where one muscle group will overcompensate for another.

This can lead to pain in your lower body, such as your lower back or knee joint.

With that in mind, we’re going to cover 12 of the best thigh exercises for toned legs.

These exercises will strengthen your adductors, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Proper form is imperative.

Each exercise comes with a video for further instruction.

Some are bodyweight exercises while others may use an exercise mat, stability ball, ankle weights, or resistance bands.

Your Inner Thighs

Your inner thigh muscles are also known as your adductors.

These muscles stabilize your lower body, specifically, your hips, knees, and abs.

5 muscles make up your hip adductors.

They are the adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, pectineus, and gracilis.

These muscles pull your leg inward, toward the midline. This movement is called adduction.

Strengthening these muscles play an important role in preventing injuries and stabilizing the body as a whole.

The inner thigh exercises outlined below will strengthen your inner thigh muscles while toning and slimming your legs.

Good news! At the end of this list, there’s a suggested 20-minute Inner and Outer Thigh Workout to get you started!

Best Inner Thigh Exercises

Inner thigh workout

Also check out: 18 Best Leg Exercises for Women

1. Side-Lying Inner Thigh Raise

  • Start by lying on your right side on a mat. Stretch your right arm above your head. Bend at the elbow and place your right hand behind your right ear. 
  • Take your top leg, your left foot, and set it on the mat in front of your hips. Thread your left hand behind your calf, holding onto the outside of your ankle. 
  • Stretch your bottom leg, your right, long while lifting it off the floor, creating a straight line with your body. Engage your thigh. Do not bend the knee. 
  • Lower the leg back down to the mat. Kick it up a notch by adding small pulses before lowering!
  • Repeat the same number of inner thigh lifts with your left leg. 

2. Side Lunge

  • The side lunge can go by a few different names such as the lateral squat or lateral lunge.
  • Start with your feet hip-width distance apart. Take a large step to the left. Bend your left knee as you send your hips back behind you. Both feet stay flat on the ground.
  • Press through your left leg, returning to the starting position.
  • After you’ve completed your set on the left, switch to the opposite side, taking a big step to the right. Be sure to complete the same number of reps on each side.

3. Goblet Squat

  • Start in a wide stance, your feet are slightly wider than the hip-width distance.
  • Hold a weight in your hands at chest level. This can be a kettlebell or a dumbbell. You can also perform this squat as a bodyweight exercise. 
  • Inhale. Engage your core, keeping your gaze straight ahead. Have a neutral spine as you start to lower your hips back, bending at the knees into a squat.
  • Keep the chosen weight in your chest and your elbows to the inside of your knees.
  • Pause. On your exhale, contract your hamstrings as you press through both feet evenly as you rise to stand. 

4. Dumbbell Lunge

Choose 2 dumbbells (or kettlebells) of the same weight, one for each hand, palms in. If you’re a beginner, start with a lower weight or your body weight. Stand with your feet shoulder-width distance apart. 

Step your right foot forward, bending the knee to a 90-degree angle. Your back knee is also bent but do not let the back leg touch the ground.


Press through your front foot as you step back to the starting position, your feet shoulder-width apart. 

Repeat on your left side. This is 1 repetition.

5. Curtsy Lunge

  • Stand with your feet hip-width distance, hands clasped in front of your chest.
  • Point your right toes, like at the front of a step, and draw a circle with your right foot until it crosses your midline behind your left leg. 
  • Deeply lunge with your right knee inches from the ground. Do not hinge at the hips.
  • Press through your left foot as you return to a standing position. Repeat with the opposite leg. This is 1 repetition. 

6. Sumo Deadlift

  • Stand in a squat position with your feet a little wider than your shoulders. Your toes are slightly pointing out. 
  • Hold your dumbbells in front of your hips at the top of the thigh, palms in. Start to send your hips back, spine neutral, core engaged. 
  • Continuing lowering until the dumbbells are below your knees, in front of your shins, a few inches from the floor. 
  • Drive through your heels and squeeze your glutes as you return to the starting position. 

You can practice the sumo squat to get a feel for the movement before adding weights.

7. Leg Lift With Ankle Weights

This exercise not only targets your top leg and inner thigh muscles but also hits your abdominals!

  • Start by attaching an ankle weight to your top ankle and lying on your right side.
  • Take your left hand behind your head, propping yourself up with your left elbow. 
  • Have a 90-degree bend in your right leg on the ground. This is your base. Stretch through your left hip flexor as you straighten your top leg.
  • Slowly lift your left leg on an exhale. Hold. Lower on a inhale. This is 1 rep. 

Once your set is complete, repeat on the opposite side. 

8. Stability Ball Side Leg Lifts 

A fun addition to your leg lift can be a stability ball!

  • Place your stability ball at the top of your mat. Lie on your right side, obliques on the ball.
  • Create a stable base before finding your movement. Have a slight bend in your bottom knee, connecting to the ground.
  • Wrap your right arm around the ball.
  • Straighten through your left leg, pointing your toes.
  • Engage your core and hip abductors as you lift your upper leg. Your right leg provides stability. Slowly lower back down. 
  • Repeat on the left side. 

9. Plié Squat

This bodyweight squat will fire up your inner thighs! As a personal trainer, this is one of my favorite bodyweight exercises.

Stand with your feet wider than the shoulder-width distance in an upright position. Turn your toes out to 45-degree angles.

Start to bend at the knees, lowering your torso into a squat. Squeeze your glutes as you rise to stand on an exhale. 

Want an additional challenge? Try coming up onto the ball of one foot while the other is firmly planted on the ground!

Abductor – Outer Thigh

If you’re really looking to tone your thigh muscles, you will also need to focus on your hip abductors.

Your abductors are made up of four muscles.

Three of these are located in your buttocks. They are your gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.

The fourth, your tensor fascia lata (commonly known as your TFL) is located on your outer hip.

The function of these muscles is to open your legs out to the side. This is known as abduction. They also stabilize your pelvis through basic movement.

Here are 3 outer thigh exercises for a well-rounded workout.

10. Clamshell—Mini-Band

Wrap a mini resistance band around the outside of both quads just above the knees. Lie on your side, extending your bottom arm, using your forearm as a pillow for your head. 

Your top arm can rest on the ground in front of your chest or on your waist. Your upper body stays still throughout the entire range of motion.

Stack and bend both knees at 90-degree angles.

Without moving your pelvis, start to rotate the top leg open. Your feet remain touching and your bottom leg stays firmly on the ground. 

Pause at the top of the motion. Release back down to the starting position. 

11. Resistance Band Lateral Walk

Loop a resistance band just above your ankles, below your calves. Keep tension in the band by standing with your feet wider than your shoulders. 

Take a big step to the right with your right foot as you lower into a quarter squat. Keep the tension in the band and your right heel planted as you take a big step with your left foot back to approximately shoulder-width distance. 

Then, take a big step to the left. Continue back and forth for your desired number of reps. 

To get the most out of this exercise, it is imperative to keep tension in the resistance band through the entire movement. 

12. Fire Hydrant Exercise

Start in a tabletop position with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Engage your abs.

On an exhale, lift your right leg to the side, maintaining the 90-degree angle. Lower back to the starting position. 

Repeat with the left leg. 

20-Minutes Inner & Outer Thigh Workout

As mentioned, here’s a 20-minute thigh-leg workout! The best part is that you can absolutely substitute any of these with the best exercises for you outlined above.

Side-Lying Inner Thigh Raise

  • 3 sets, 15 reps per side

Resistance Band Lateral Walk

  • 3 sets, 15 reps per side

Goblet Squat

  • 3 sets, 15 reps per side

Curtsy Lunge

  • 3 sets, 10 reps per side


  • 3 sets, 15 reps per side

If you are a beginner, complete as many as you can without losing proper posture.

If your fitness level is more advanced, use higher weights or resistance bands. 

The Takeaway

Mix and match these 12 thigh exercises for strong and toned legs. 

These leg exercises focus on your inner and outer thigh muscles as well as the glute muscles, specifically, your gluteus medius. 

Strengthing this area of the body is a great way to prevent injury and stabilize the core muscles and pelvis. 

Now that you know the right moves, kick off your inner thigh workout today!

About the Author

Similar Posts