Your upper legs are composed of several dynamic muscles; these include your quadriceps in the front of your leg, your hamstrings in the back of your upper leg, and your abductor muscles on the upper, inner leg. Your hamstrings and quads are worked in flexing and extending your leg, and your abductors by bringing your legs together and apart. If these muscles are not exercised regularly, your thighs can begin to appear flabby and weak. To keep your upper legs lean and toned, practice a regular strength-training program two to three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. Vary your exercise routine to help you stay interested and motivated. Joining a Pilates class can also help tone this specific area of your body while you enjoy the companionship of others with similar strengthening goals.
Inner Thigh Lift
The inner and outer thigh lift is a strengthening exercise commonly used in Pilates. This exercise will work not only your legs, but also your gluteals. Begin by stretching out on your right side. Your right arm should lie flat on the floor, extended above your head, with your head resting on it. Bending your left leg, put your left foot on the ground, just in front of your right leg, keeping this leg straight. Breathe out and lift your right leg a couple of inches off the ground, then lower. Do 10 reps for each leg.
Outer Thigh Lift
To work your outer thigh muscles, as well as your gluteals, perform an outer thigh lift. Begin again on your right side, keeping your head propped up on your right hand. Slowly raise your left leg as high as you can. Hold your muscles contracted before lowering your leg. Do 10 reps for each of your legs.
Lunges can be performed almost anywhere without any extra gym equipment, although you can hold weights in your hands if you want more of a challenge. Keeping your upper body straight and your head up, take a step forward with your right leg. Lower your hips and bend your knees until your right knee is above your ankle and your leg is bent at a 90-degree angle. Your other knee should also be bent at this angle, but don't let it touch the floor. With the weight in your heels, push yourself back up to your starting position. Then step forward with your opposite foot and repeat. The main muscles worked by lunges are your quads, but your glutes and hamstrings should also feel the burn during this exercise.
The squat is a common strength-training exercise that targets your quads, while also strengthening your hamstrings, hips and lower back. To perform a basic barbell squat, place the barbell high on your back, using your shoulder blades to help stabilize the bar. Grip the bar with your wrists directly over your elbows. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart. Slowly bend your knees while lowering your hips. Sit back so your calves are parallel with the wall. Hold, and then slowly stand back up without locking your knees. Repeat the squat for eight to 15 reps.
- Center for Young Women's Health: Tone It: Inner Thigh Lift
- Muscle and Strength.com: Beginner Leg Workout
- American Council on Exercise: Upper Leg Exercises
- Orthoinfo: Muscle Strains in the Thigh
- Mayo Clinic.com: Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- Shape.com: Know Your Basics: How to do a Lunge
- Muscle Mag Fitness.com: Lunges
- Muscle Mag Fitness.com: Everything You Want to Know About Squats
Joelle Dedalus began writing professionally for websites such as PugetSoundMagazine.com in 2009. She received her B.A. in English education at Iowa State University and is currently a M.F.A. candidate in creative nonfiction writing at Emerson College in Boston, where she is developing a manuscript on literary travel. Her areas of expertise include travel and literature, the outdoors and the arts.