While you might not think much about your inner thighs as you get in your car, walk up the stairs or cross your legs while sitting at your desk, but your inner-thigh muscles are working in each of these movements. Each of your five inner-thigh muscles -- known collectively as the adductors -- works to bring your legs toward the center-line of your body. You can target these important muscles with a variety of exercises, whether you’re at the gym or in the office.
Adductors Only -- At the Gym
If you have access to a gym, you can work your inner thighs with either the lever seated hip adduction exercise or the cable hip adduction. For the seated exercise, sit on the adduction machine and place your legs so the pads touch your inner thighs. Bring your legs together until the pads touch. Then, spread your legs as far as you comfortably can. Each time you bring your legs together, you work against the resistance of the machine to strengthen your inner thighs. For the cable hip adduction exercise, stand and attach the cuff to your ankle that is nearest to the equipment. Move slightly away from the equipment. Working against the tension on the cable, pull your leg away from the equipment and toward your body.
Adductors Only -- At Home
If you don’t have access to a gym, you can strengthen your inner thighs at home or even at the office. Take a small ball, about 6 inches in diameter, and place it between your thighs, just above the knee. Then, squeeze the ball and hold the contraction, breathing evenly. You can do this exercise seated in a chair, standing up or lying on your back with your legs lifted perpendicular to the floor. For an alternate exercise, lie on your back and stretch your legs up so your toes point toward the ceiling. Then, open your legs to either side of your body and bring them back together. As you get stronger, you can make this exercise more challenging by wearing ankle weights.
Several different compound exercises allow you to strengthen the adductors along with other important leg muscles. For example, you can do lateral step-ups by standing between two benches. Step up sideways onto one bench with your right foot. Bring your left foot up to the bench, but don’t actually put weight on the foot. Then, step back down between the two benches. Repeat, stepping to the left. Alternately, you can do side lunges. Stand with your legs together and step to the right. Bend your right leg while keeping your left leg straight. Then, bring your legs back together before repeating the exercise to the left. You can make the exercise more challenging by positioning a barbell on the back of your shoulders.
When you incorporate inner-thigh strengthening exercises into your resistance training workouts, keep in mind the optimal placement of these exercises. You should always do exercises that target multiple groups of muscles -- such as side lunges -- before you do exercises that target a single muscle or muscle group -- such as the ball squeeze. When you first begin these exercises, do eight to 12 repetitions. As you get stronger, you can gradually increase the weight and the number of sets. For the ball squeeze, hold each contraction for 10 seconds and repeat four or five times. As you get stronger, you can increase the length of the contraction.
- Yoga Journal: Thigh Master
- Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology; Karen S. Clippinger
- ExRx.net: Lever Seated Hip Adduction
- ExRx.net: Cable Hip Adduction
- ExRx.net: Lateral Step-Up
- ExRx.net: Barbell Side Lunge
- ExRx.net: Weight Training Guidelines
- American College of Sports Medicine: A Strength Training Program for Your Home
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images