Best Workouts That Can Tone Your Thighs And Legs

by Marixie Ann Obsioma
Published on November 13, 2021 and last updated for accuracy on December 11, 2021

You’ve never seen such lunges.

It’s hard not to imagine someone squeezing on a Thigh Master when you think about working your inner thighs. There are plenty of other inner-thigh exercises you can do to strengthen and sculpt your upper legs.

These muscles help you move your legs inward after a side lunge, support you when you walk or run, stabilize your pelvis, and keep your knees (and overall lower body) strong. Having strong adductors also helps keep your hips and lower back in a neutral position, preventing overarching and the associated aches and pains. So, basically, these muscles keep you super fit and injury-free!

Latitudinal (or side-to-side) movements and single-leg exercises are the keys. To get a great inner thigh workout, use the exercises listed below. I recommend doing these moves at least twice a week to walk, run, and move with strength and balance.

These are all compound movements, which means they hit multiple muscle groups simultaneously. It’s a common misconception that toning a specific muscle group—like the inner thighs—requires isolation. The body is a whole. Compound movements that hit your inner thighs as well as glutes, quads, and calves.

Quick Total-Body Toning Tips

Remember Your Upper Body

This is a great lower-body routine, but don’t forget the rest of your body. Do upper body twice a week and lower body three times a week. Or you could combine both by doing three lower-body and three upper-body movements in one session.

Low-hanging Fruit

Nutrition is often overlooked when it comes to overall toning. Sleep is an underrated factor. It affects your performance in the gym, your energy level, and your cortisol levels. Sleeping well lowers cortisol, a fat-producing hormone. So sleep is vital to achieving our desired outcomes.

Then Cardio

If you want to tone and sculpt, don’t rely solely on cardio, though it should be part of your routine. (Remember: Cardio is anything that gets your heart pumping. It’s not just treadmill running.)

Be Reliable

You’ll get results if you do all of the above and show up consistently.

Inner Thigh Workout

15 minutes

No equipment? No issue. Listed below are a variety of bodyweight-only exercises. In addition to the workout mat, some moves require a stability ball or yoga block.

Legs, lower body

Choose three moves from the list below, including one single-leg and one lateral lunge. Do 10 reps of each, then move on to the next. After completing all three movements, rest for 45 seconds and then repeat twice more for three rounds.

1. Hamstring Squeeze

This move works your inner thigh muscles as well as your glutes and hamstrings.

Assist with a stability ball (or yoga block) between your ankles and feet. Bend knees and hamstrings to lift feet and ball or block off floor. Restart. One rep. Do 10 and then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

2. Side Lunge

This move trains our lateral stabilizers, which we usually train in the frontal plain. It also strengthens glutes, which helps stabilize the knees.

Start sideways at the mat’s edge, feet under hips, arms by sides. Take a big step out with your right leg, sit back, and bend your right knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor, while your left leg stays straight. Return to start with right heel. One rep. Do 10 on each side, then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

3. Single-Leg Deadlift

Why it rocks: The supported single-leg deadlift is for people who struggle with a full single-leg deadlift. It also teaches you how to do a hip hinge before a full single-leg deadlift.

Start on the left leg, weight in right hand, palm toward thigh, left arm by side. Step right leg behind body, lift heel, and balance on right toes. Keep your left leg bent. Lean forward, flattening the back and lowering the weight to the floor. Drive into the left heel to stand up. One rep. Do 10 on each side, then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

4. Reverse Lunge

This move is both a leg strengthener and a cardio move.

Start tall, feet directly beneath hips, arms at sides. Take a big step back with your right foot. At the same time, bend both legs so that the back knee taps the floor directly beneath the hip (keep the right heel high). Reverse the movement and return to the start. One rep. Do 10 on each side, then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

5. Glute Pull Lateral Lunge

This complex movement tests full-body coordination and strength.

Standing hip-width apart, hands at sides Take a big step to the right, then push your hips back, bending your right knee and lowering your body. Lift your right knee and pull it into your chest with your arms. Do 10 on each side, then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

6. Lateral Step-Out Squat

It’s great for glute activation. This could be part of your warmup to activate the glutes and work through the squat range.

Standing straight with a resistance band just below the knees. Hands on chest clap. Sit back and lower until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Engage glutes and press up through heels to start. Reverse the process. One rep. Do 10 on each side, then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

7. Jacks

Why it’s great: I love jumping jacks. A great way to warm up and get your heart rate up without any equipment or coordination.

Start with your hands by your sides. Hands overhead, legs open slightly wider than hip-distance. Legs back together, arms by sides One rep. Do 10 and then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

8. Split Squat Bulgar

Why it rocks: Single-leg test. They’re all working overtime – quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

Start two feet in front of a step, with a weight in each hand. Extend left leg back and step left. Bend knees to lower body as far as you can, keeping shoulders back and chest up. Return to start by pressing the right heel. One rep. Do 10 on each side, then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

9. Squat

Why it rocks: Slowing down is guaranteed to light up your inner thighs, so don’t underestimate the power of slowing down.

Hands clasped in front of chest, feet shoulder-width apart. Bring hips back and knees nearly parallel to the floor. Up to 30 seconds. One rep. Do 10 reps, then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

10. lb Deadlift

Why it rocks: Single-leg deadlifts require a lot of stability and strength.

Standing on left leg, holding a kettlebell with right palm facing thighs. Keep your left arm out to the side and your left leg bent. When the torso is parallel to the mat and the kettlebell is almost touching the ground, lean forward. Drive into the left heel to stand on both legs. One rep. Do 10 on each side, then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

11. Lateral Lunge

Why it rocks: Reaching over helps glute activation and core stability.

Hands at sides, feet wider than shoulder-width apart Reach down with right hand until left knee is 90 degrees. Rep on the other side. Repeat for 30 seconds. One rep. Do 10 reps, then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

12. Squat

Why it rocks: A sumo stance fires up the inner thighs!

Place heels shoulder-distance apart, toes open slightly. Lie on your back with a dumbbell or kettlebell in front. Squat with knees bent and hips back. Let arms hang so weight stays under shoulders. Lower hips to slightly below knee level. Pause for two seconds at the bottom, then drive into heels to stand. One rep. Do 10 and then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

13. Front-Rack Deficit Lunge

Why it rocks: This lunge variation increases range of motion and time under tension, challenging your inner thighs (and entire lower body).

Put a set of weights in front of your chest and stand up straight. Elevate the right knee to hip height in front of you, then bring it behind you to the ground. Slowly lower until both knees are 90°. Return to knee-lifting. One rep. Do 10 on each side, then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

14. Isometric Lunge

This single-leg hold helps balance lower-body strength and improves running mechanics.

How to: Take a big step forward and stand tall. Bend knees and lower body to 90 degrees. Up to 30 seconds. One rep. Do five on each side, then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

15. Step-ups 

Step-ups are a great way to work on unilateral strength, single-leg balance, and coordination.

Begin facing a bench or stair with hands on waist and feet under hips. Place right foot on a bench or stair and pull your left knee in. Reverse movement to begin. One rep. Do 10 on each side, then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

16. Weighted Lateral Lunge

Why it rocks: That’s why it’s called the Leveled Side Lunge!

Standing straight with feet hip-width apart, clean a pair of weights at the chest. Sit back and lower your hips until your left knee is nearly parallel to the floor. Straighten the right leg. Return to start with heel press. One rep. Do 10 on each side, then move on to the next move. After each exercise, rest for 45 seconds. Repeat twice more for three rounds.

The 10 Best Thigh Exercises

Modify

It’s good for your thighs to be toned and strong. Stronger thighs mean you’ll be faster, with higher jumps, and more stability. That’s why strengthening your legs is better than having slimmer thighs.

Remember that overall cardiovascular and muscle health is more important than your jeans size.

While no single exercise can target a specific body part, there are some that focus on leg strength and endurance more than others. So, if you want stronger thighs, try these exercises.

These 10 exercises will help you build stronger thighs and a healthier life!

1. Try indoor cycling

If you’ve ever taken an indoor cycling class, you know how much your thighs get worked. That’s why indoor cycling is great for toning legs, cardiovascular health, and weight loss.

In fact, one 2010 study found that sedentary, overweight women lost weight and fat mass after 24 sessions of indoor cycling.

2. Find a stairwell

Running burns 295 calories in 30 minutes and 590 calories in an hour for a 154 pound person. Adding stairs to your running routine works your thigh muscles. Every step forces your leg muscles to fire.

3. Play in the sand

Beach walking is a great way to strengthen your thighs if you live near a beach. “Walking on the sand adds extra tension to your thigh muscles,” he says.

Begin by walking in the sand for 20 minutes per day to get used to it. Adding time to your daily workouts will help your body get used to the sand.

4. Do ballet exercises

Dancers have strong legs. “Dancing combines cardio with specific leg toning moves,” says certified trainer Lyuda Bouzinova.

To lengthen and tone your thighs, try Pilates workout. In order to create long, toned lines, Bouzinova says the sequence works all of the important thigh muscles in a specific order.

5. Find a sport

Many sports require quick direction changes, according to Ghazarians. Take into account sports that work your thigh muscles aerobically.

  • swimming
  • golf
  • soccer
  • running
  • volleyball
  • cycling
  • dancing

6. Intensify resistance

At least two days per week of total-body muscle-strengthening activities can help you burn calories, lose fat, and strengthen your thighs. Include leg exercises like lunges, wall sits, inner/outer thigh lifts, and body weight step-ups.

Keep the reps high to strengthen the legs without bulking up (at least 15 reps per set). Do three rounds of each exercise with minimal rest.

Add upper-body movements to lower-body exercises for a great overall fitness move. Use dumbbells to combine lunges and bicep curls, or squats and overhead shoulder presses.

7. Squat with bodyweight

Bodyweight squats burn calories, strengthen leg muscles, and tone thighs. These exercises are also portable.

Ghazarians suggest 25 bodyweight squats twice daily (50 total). You can squat while watching TV at home or after working out. Try this 30-day weighted squat challenge if you want a bigger challenge.

8. Inner thighs

Bouzinova says it’s difficult to target the inner thighs, and the exercises that do work are awkward. So many people ignore them. If you don’t like going to the gym, do them at home.

The “platypus walk” is a great move from this Mission Lean YouTube workout. It tones your inner and outer thighs as well as your glutes.

9. Do some balancing

Do balance work at home or in the gym. According to Bouzinova, “balance work tones all of the smaller muscles in your legs and thighs and tightens them up quickly.”

Some exercises to try include single leg deadlifts on a BOSU ball and running on a sandy beach to test your balance.

10. HIIT cardio

Cardiovascular exercise burns fat and builds heart muscle. It also aids in fat loss. Including HIIT and steady-state cardio in your exercise routine will help you lose fat and tone your thighs.

Aim for a more advanced workout and calorie burn with one session of metabolic conditioning. The CDC advises adults to get 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week.

A total body workout includes moderate and vigorous aerobic activity.

Notably, improving your fitness does not require weight loss. To lose weight and change your body composition, you must burn more calories than you consume.

Many of the above workouts burn calories while strengthening muscles. Remember that slow and steady weight loss is the best way to keep it off.

The CDC recommends losing one to two pounds per week. Those who do so lose more weight.

Bouzinova advises against extreme diets that exclude entire food groups, such as carbs, or are extremely low in calories.

Weight loss has many advantages beyond aesthetics. Weight loss in the thighs, hips, and buttocks may help reduce other heart disease risk factors.

Here are some healthy weight-loss tips backed by science:

  • Drink plenty of water before meals.
  • Eat eggs instead of grains.
  • Read labels to avoid added sugar

In summary

Leg exercises are required to strengthen and tone the thighs. If you want to lose weight, a healthy diet and regular exercise will help you lose fat, gain muscle, and improve your overall fitness.

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/toned-legs
  2. https://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/top-10-new-exercises-thinner-thighs
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-get-smaller-thighs
  4. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/g25996674/inner-thigh-exercise/
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