The inner thighs are a common trouble zone for women, in part because females naturally tend to store fat on the thighs. Still, there are plenty of effective exercises to target this area, and none of them involve that old Thighmaster gathering dust in your basement. The right combination of cardio and strength exercises will trim fat, tighten muscles and create smooth, firm, bikini-ready thighs.
Perform 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio at least three times per week to burn calories and eliminate body fat. If your inner thighs are flabby, excess fat is usually to blame; burning off fat will help shed the jiggle and reveal the firm muscle underneath. Any form of heart-pounding cardio will do the trick, but to get the most bang for your fitness buck, opt for kickboxing, step aerobics and other double-duty workouts that burn calories while targeting the thigh muscles.
Use dumbbells in your strength-training routine to challenge the thigh muscles and see results faster. Many women shy away from weights out of fear of developing a Schwarzenegger-style body, but adding muscle can actually give you that tight, lean appearance you're after. To target the inner thighs, perform plie squats while holding a dumbbell with both arms. At the top of the move, lift up onto the balls of your feet and pulse 10 times before moving on to the next rep.
Target the lower body with thigh-blasting moves. While most lower-body moves involve the thighs, adding specific exercises to your routine can help you achieve those sleek inner thighs sooner. Try double leg-lifts -- place a small ball between your ankles and lie on your right side, head resting on your right arm and your left hand on the floor in front of you. Lift both legs off the floor, keeping them straight, and lower them down again without touching the floor. Complete 12 reps before switching to your left side.
Add Pilates moves to your usual fitness routine to challenge the thigh muscles in new ways. If the weight room just isn't your scene, Pilates provides an effective way for you to strengthen your muscles without ever having to heft a dumbbell. Pilates instructor Dori Markakos suggests "heel beats" to target the inner thighs. Lie on your stomach with your hands stacked and your forehead or chin resting on your hands. Rotate your hips under to press your pelvis into the floor, and exhale as you lift both legs off the floor behind you, keeping toes pointed and feet about 12 inches apart. With fast, controlled movements, tap your heels together 30 times. For a more intense thigh-blasting burn, criss-cross your feet instead of tapping your heels.
- To shed thigh fat even faster, shave 50 to 100 calories off your daily diet. Small changes like trading juice for water, snacking on apple slices instead of chips and cutting your serving of rice in half are painless ways to save calories without feeling like you're on a diet.
Kristen Fisher is a freelance writer and editor with professional experience in both print and online media. She has published articles on a wide variety of topics including health, fitness, nutrition, home and food, and her work has appeared in "Connections Magazine" and on Lifescript.com. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in psychology.