In your quest for a toned and tightened body, leg lifts and thigh lifts can help you achieve a strong core and shapely thighs. Leg lifts use the outside thigh muscles -- known as abductors -- along with your gluteus maximus and rectus abdominus muscles as you lift your entire leg and move your leg away from your body. Thigh lifts use your inner thigh muscles -- known as adductors -- to pull your legs toward the opposite side of your body.
Warm-Up and Cool-Down
Leg lifts and thigh lifts work the major and minor muscles of your core and lower body. Improve the benefits of your workout and avoid injury by increasing blood flow to your muscles with a five- to 10-minute warm-up before performing exercises. Walking and bicycling effectively warm up your lower body. At the end of your workout session, do muscle stretches to prevent soreness. Knee-to-chest stretches, the quad stretch and toe touches stretch your thigh, leg and glute muscles for increased flexibility and reduced chance of injury. Consult a physician before you begin an exercise routine.
Thigh lifts tighten your inner thigh muscles for definition and shapeliness. Exercise your inner thigh -- adductor -- muscles while lying on your left side on the floor. Prop the elbow of your left arm on the floor and rest your head on your left hand. Bend your right knee and bring your leg to the front of your body. Place your right foot on the floor in front of your hips. With your left leg straight and your foot flexed, raise your left leg approximately 6 inches off the floor. Perform eight to 12 thigh lifts and then do circular motions with your raised leg for three rotations. Repeat this exercise on your other side.
Leg lifts work the muscles on the outside of your thigh, but they also exercise other major muscle groups of your core and lower body. Using abductor muscles to pull your legs away from the midline, leg lifts can be performed with different variations for similar benefits. From a prone position, exhale and raise your legs together approximately 6 inches off the floor. Hold the lift while you inhale. Return to the starting position. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions with a brief rest between two sets. For variation, roll onto your side and prop your head on your hand. Bend your bottom leg slightly. Exhale as you lift your top leg approximately 45 degrees and hold the position as you inhale. Do eight to 12 repetitions on each side.
You can work both your adductor and abductor thigh muscles with the leg-lift scissor exercise. Stew Smith, fitness trainer and former Navy SEAL, recommends this exercise for advanced bodybuilders to develop washboard abs. However, the inner and outer thighs and glutes get a shape-promoting workout with this combination of movements. Lying on your back with your outstretched legs lifted approximately 6 inches off the floor in a leg lift, scissor your legs back and forth, creating a 36-inch opening between your feet. Inner thigh muscles pull the legs together, and outer thigh muscles pull the legs apart. Perform eight to 12 repetitions.
- Center for Young Women's Health: Inner Thigh Lift
- ExRx.net: Adductors
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Hip Conditioning Program
- MaxPreps: How Michael Became His "Airness"
- Military.com: Achieve Washboard Abs
- Fitness: 5-Minute Pilates Workout: Firm Up Fast
- MayoClinic.com: Slide Show: A Guide to 10 Basic Stretches
For Judy Kilpatrick, gardening is the best mental health therapy of all. Combining her interests in both of these fields, Kilpatrick is a professional flower grower and a practicing, licensed mental health therapist. A graduate of East Carolina University, Kilpatrick writes for national and regional publications.