Inner thigh workout: 7 of the best exercises to tone your inner thighs

A photo of a woman doing a lateral lunge
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Toned thighs are one of the most common workout goals, but if this brings back memories of hours spent squeezing a thigh master, we’ve got good news for you — you can get a great inner thigh workout using just your body weight and a resistance band (don’t have one? We’ve hand-picked the best resistance bands on the market here). 

To strengthen and sculpt the interior part of your upper legs, you need to target your adductor muscles. Having strong adductor muscles shouldn’t just be an aesthetic goal, however, as these muscles are extremely important when it comes to stabilizing your pelvis and lower back when running and walking. The key way to do this is to focus on lateral (moving from side to side) exercises and single-leg movements. Incorporating these exercises into your strength training routine can help sculpt and strengthen your inner thighs.

The best inner thigh exercises

Ready to get going? Here are the best exercises to tone your inner thighs. In order to get results, pair these with cardio exercises (hate the treadmill? Don’t worry, these cardio exercises burn more calories than running) and full-body workouts. Be consistent — focusing on one part of the body for a couple of weeks won’t help you reach your fitness goals, but regular exercise will. (While we’re at it, no, you shouldn’t do a squat challenge — here’s why).

Lateral lunge 

Why? This move targets the lateral stabilizers in the body, as well as targeting the inner thighs. It also works the glutes, so it’s a great double-whammy. 

How: To do a lateral lunge, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Take a step out to the right, bending your right knee and sinking your hips back and down, with your left leg out straight. Push off from the ball of your foot to get back to your starting position. That’s one rep. Aim for 3 rounds of 10-15 reps on each side. 

2. Reverse lunge 

Why? Reverse lunges target most of the muscles in your thighs, as well as your glutes, hamstrings, and abs, so it’s a good lower-body workout. It should also raise your heart rate. 

How: To do a reverse lunge, start at the top of your mat with your feet hip-width apart. Step your right leg back, engaging your core, and bend both legs until your right knee lowers to the mat, directly beneath your hip. Pushing through the ball of your foot, stand up and return to the starting position, then repeat on the opposite side. Aim for 10 repetitions on each side, 20 in total, for a total of 3 rounds. 

3. Lateral lunge with knee up 

Why? Adding the knee up to the end of the lateral lunge works on your single-leg stabilization and enhances the move. 

How: Standing with your feet hip-width apart, step out to the right and complete a lateral lunge on the right side. As you push off from the ball of your foot to return to the starting position, hug your right knee up to your chest. Hold for a couple of seconds before lowering the leg down and returning to the starting position. That’s one rep. Aim for 3 rounds of 10 reps on each side. 

4. Lateral squat walk with resistance band

Why? As well as targeting the inner thighs, this squat walk activates the glutes, so is a great move for runners to do as part of their warm-up. 

How: Start with the feet shoulder-width apart, with the toes turned slightly outwards and a resistance band just above the knee caps. With the hands clasped in front of you, take a step out to the right, bend the knees and sink back into a squat position. Engage the glutes and press back into the starting position. That’s one rep. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps on each side. 

5. Sumo squat  

Why? The sumo stance really forces you to engage your inner thighs during the squat. To make this move more difficult, try holding a kettlebell or dumbbell against your torso as you move. 

How: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed outwards. Bend the knees and reach the hips back and down into a squat position, lower down until the hips are slightly lower than the knees, then press into the feet to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions. 

6. Jumping jacks

Why? Jumping jacks are another great way to get the heart rate up. They also work the glutes, quadriceps, and hip flexor muscles. 

How: Start standing with your legs together and your arms flat against your side. Bend your knees and jump into the air. As you jump, spread your legs shoulder-width apart and raise your arms over your head. Jump back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do three sets of 10 repetitions. 

7. Step-ups 

Why? Step-ups are a great way to work on the inner thigh and glute strength, as well as your single-leg coordination and balance. To do this exercise, use a box, bench, or chair that is strong enough to support your weight. Alternatively, find a step to practice on. 

How: Start facing a box, bench, or step. Step the right foot onto the bench and as you step up, raise your left knee to your chest. Reverse the movement to get back to your starting position. That’s one rep. Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side. 

More exercises to try:

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.