If you’re looking for thigh exercises you’ll find plenty of information about working the large muscle groups, such as the quad muscles and hamstrings, but very little that specifically mentions the sartorius -- not much respect for your body’s longest muscle. If you’re interested in giving your thigh a really vigorous workout, dig a little deeper and look for some moves to strengthen the sartorius.
The top of the sartorius muscle borders your quadriceps, then curves toward your inner thigh before ending at the knee. The sartorius helps flex your knee by lifting your calf back and up. It also assists in hip flexion by raising your thigh; in hip abduction by lifting your leg straight to the side; and in your hip’s external rotation.
You can stretch the sartorius by doing a side lunge. You can also perform a straddle abductor stretch by assuming a wide stance -- setting your feet about twice shoulder-width apart -- bending forward at the waist, then bending one knee and stretching as far as you comfortably can to that side, while keeping your feet in place.
Exercises that work both the quad and hamstring areas are likely to strengthen the sartorius as well. You can also look for exercises that focus on your inner thigh muscles, such as the hip adductors. For example, the step-up -- in which you step up onto a raised platform -- strengthens the sartorius, particularly if you’re holding a pair of dumbbells. If you prefer working on exercise machines, perform a leg press plie by setting up as normal in a leg press machine, but spread your feet a bit wider than hip-width and point your toes as far to each side as you comfortably can. You can also set up in a standard pushup position, but set your feet and ankles on top of an exercise ball. Pull your knees forward and flex your ankles as your feet move across the ball. Keep your arms extended and your feet on top of the ball throughout the exercise. (
Any running or kicking sport strengthens the sartorius, provided you warm up properly before playing and don’t overdo the action. Because soccer involves both running and kicking, it’s probably the best sport you can play to work the sartorius muscle. You’ll flex your knees and hips while you run up and down the field, while standard soccer kicking involves both knee flexion and hip abduction. External hip rotation -- the other sartorius movement -- will most likely occur when you’re moving side to side on defense.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.