As you age, you might find it harder to balance and have stability in your joints, making you more prone to injury. The good news is that you can help prevent and reduce these muscle imbalances by strengthening your legs—namely your inner thighs. Nicole Blades, a NASM-certified personal trainer based in Connecticut, says: “Your adductors—the muscles in your inner thighs—are responsible for inner rotation of the leg. Together with the abductors—the external rotators of the glutes—they support the pelvis, helping you to stabilize when you walk, run, or cycle.”
Before you dive into the inner thigh exercises below, note that Blades says targeting one specific muscle group in the body isn’t possible. “There is no such thing as spot training or focusing on one particular body part alone in order to reshape or define that specific area. If your goals include stronger, firmer legs, you’ll need to rely on a combo platter of strength training exercises,” Blades explains.
Working your inner thighs as well as your outer thighs and glutes is key to having greater overall strength in your lower body and reducing your risk of injury. “Having under-active or weaker adductors leads to muscle imbalances, which leads to overcompensation that can result in back or knee pain,” Blades says.
That said, the inner thigh exercises below help strengthen your adductors and the other muscles in your entire leg, as well as your glutes.
Time: 30 minutes
Reps: 8 to 12 reps per exercise. Repeat for 2 rounds.
Equipment: 1 set of 8-pound dumbbells—or medium-to-heavy weights of your choice—and a resistance band
Whether you’re doing a forward or back lunge, you’re improving your hips’ range of motion and flexibility. It also works your quadriceps for incredibly strong thighs.
How to do forward lunges: Stand with your feet together and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Take a big step forward with your left foot and lower your body into a lunge until your right knee is hovering over the floor. Your left leg should form a 90-degree angle in the front and your right leg a 90-degree angle in the back. As you get stronger, you can have your back leg touch the ground before pushing off on your front foot to stand. This is one rep. Alternate legs.
This lunge variation works in the front plane of motion (left to right), strengthening the inner thighs as well as the glutes. This side lunge helps build strength and improves balance in each leg.
How to to a lateral lunge: Stand with your feet together and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Take a big step to your left side, then lower your body into a lunge, hinging forward at the hips and keeping your chest lifted. Your right leg should be straight with your toes pointing forward. Push off with your left foot while keeping your right foot firmly on the ground and return to the starting position. This is one rep. Alternate legs.
A curtsy lunge adds a different element of balance to your leg workout and helps to strengthen both the inner and outer thighs. Remember, you want to keep a 90-degree angle with your front and back leg when you lunge. It helps to keep this visual in mind to get the most out of the exercise.
How to do a curtsy lunge: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Take a big step behind you to your left with your right foot, so your thighs cross. Lower into a lunge until your form a 90-degree angle with your front and back legs. Make sure your left knee is aligned with your left ankle. Push off to stand back up to the starting position. This is one rep. Alternate legs.
Forward Lunge to Single Deadlift
Compound exercises kill two birds with one stone—and this lunge to deadlift move targets your entire lower body while engaging your core and challenging your balance. Your core plays a key role in this exercise by providing control.
How to do a forward lunge to single deadlift: Stand with your feet together and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Take a big step forward with your right leg and lower into a lunge. Then, bring your right leg back to the starting position.
Next, shift your weight to your left leg and simultaneously lift your right leg behind you. Hinge forward at the hips for a deadlift until your torso is parallel to the ground and your back leg forms a 90-degree angle. Keep your left leg straight or with a slight bend at the knee to balance. Engaging your glutes and thighs, pull your right leg forward until your torso is upright again. This is one rep. Alternate legs.
Lateral Lunges to Leg Lift
Challenge your balance further with this variation of the lunge, which adds a leg lift as a special twist. If this is your first time trying this move, we recommend doing this exercise without weights to practice balancing on one leg.
How to do lateral lunge to leg lift: Stand with your feet together. Take a big step to your right side, then lower your body into a lunge, hinging your hips forward and keeping your chest lifted. Your left leg should be straight with your toes pointing forward. Push off with your right foot while keeping your left foot firmly on the ground. Bring your right leg in front of your chest with your knee bent at 90 degrees. This is one rep. Alternate legs.