These Inner-Thigh Exercises Will Strengthen Your Whole Lower Body

Fitness

Plan your average week of lower-body workouts, and you might decide to treat your glutes to heavy hip thrusts and squats. You could add in good mornings to fire up your hamstrings, plus lunges and leg extensions to work your quads. But you may not be giving your inner-thigh exercises as much forethought.

Your inner thighs are made up by the pectineus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, gracilis, and obturator externus. These muscles are collectively known as hip adductors, and they work together to adduct the leg (read: move the leg toward the midline of the body). Any time you’re moving side-to-side or performing powerful movements, such as plyometrics, these muscles are firing up, says Khetanya Henderson, a NASM-certified personal trainer, 600-hour comprehensive Pilates instructor, and the founder of KKRU. So, the best inner-thigh exercises target this group of muscles.

Your adductor muscles also help stabilize the knees and hips — and, in turn, support proper alignment of all your joints, Henderson says. If your inner-thigh muscles aren’t strong enough, your knee, for instance, can begin to cave inward, which can lead to a domino effect of changes in the positioning of your ankles and pelvis, she says. “Our ankles, calves, knees, the muscles around the knees, inner thighs, outer thighs, glutes — we need all of that to work functionally together,” says Henderson. “Because when one of those building blocks falls, then the building starts to collapse toward that side.” Weak adductors are also a risk factor for muscle strain, hence the need for inner-thigh exercises.

For the record, it’s impossible to “spot tone” specific areas of your body, a common misconception I hear as an ACE-certified personal trainer. You can use isolation exercises, moves that call on a single joint and rely primarily on one muscle group, to strengthen specific muscle groups. You’ll reap the most benefits, though, when you continue to perform compound movements — exercises in which multiple joints and muscle groups all work in unison — along with your isolation moves.

All that’s to say squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, good mornings, lunges, and some isolating inner-thigh exercises make for a well-balanced body. So on your next lower-body day, test out some of Henderson’s favorite inner-thigh exercises shown here, many of which are compound moves that strengthen other muscle groups, too.

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