An area hard to target, especially for women, is the inner and outer thigh area. We hold most of our fat in our lower body and especially those saddlebag areas seem to be the primary focus for cellulite!
This exercise routine, along with a proper diet, will help you target those problem areas. While it is not possible to spot reduce fat, I explained in the last articles that increased blood flow to that area can help with fat loss. Perform these exercise up to 6x/week for 15 Minutes per day and you will see changes in as little as one to two weeks!
Make sure to read the other parts of this “Thunder Thighs Series” to target your entire lower body:
The best Inner and Outer Thigh Exercises
The following exercises target specifically your glutes, inner and outer thighs. Many of these movements can be performed bodyweight only but if you would like to increase muscle activation, add resistance bands, ankle weights or dumbbells. These exercise might look easy at first but if performed properly, they should leave you huffing and puffing after the first round.
This is one of the best exercises to target the gluteus medius (the side of your butt). What I love about this exercise is that you don’t need much equipment. If you have exercise bands, ankle weights or dumbbells, this can easily become a muscle-building workout.
Make sure to keep your back flat and contract your core the whole time while performing this exercise.
While performing this exercise, it is crucial that you keep your hips slightly tucked under. Make sure to lean back a bit, you can also elevate your body slightly by putting your arms at your sides and pushing up. This way, your glutes will not be pressed on the chair and you will feel increased activation.
Make sure to push your knees outwards at all times and don’t let them cave in when you return to the starting position. This exercise will cause a deep burn in your glutes. You can also add pulses at the end to burn it out.
Side Lying Leg Raise
This exercise can be performed with different foot positions. However, this variation with your turned down will not only activate the deep hip rotator muscles but also target your outer thighs and glutes far better. You will not be able to raise your leg high but that is not the purpose of this exercise anyways!
Contract your core at all times and if you like, you can close your eyes and think of your outer thighs and glutes to raise your leg. For increased challenge and to build muscle, add ankle weights or hold a dumbbell on top of your thigh.
The banded squat is part of my regular warm up before every workout. If you have trouble feeling squats in your glutes, you need to try this variation. It will also teach you to push your knees out during the movement, which is beneficial for proper form and for anyone dealing with knee pain. If you cannot perform regular squats due to knee arthritis, try the banded squat and don’t go as deep. Make sure to keep your weight in your heels the whole time.
You can also add this exercise as a burnout: Stay in the lowest position of the squat and now just abduct (push out and in) your knees. Make sure not to let your knees cave in. The movement should go out and then back to neutral. This movement targets the deep hip muscles too, which is helpful for anyone dealing with diastasis recti (simply said: inability to control the urge to pee).
Banded Squat Walk
The banded Squat walk teaches your body to keep your knees in alignment while pushing against the resistance band. If you have knee pain, I highly recommend adding this exercise to your routine. Exercise bands are very cheap but will not only increase challenge and build muscle but also teach your brain to properly use your muscles. Make sure to stay on your heels while walking forward, you can even raise your toes. This way, you will feel the exercise in your glutes and outer thighs.
This exercise might look girls, but it is one of the most effective exercises to target your outer thighs, glutes and inner thighs. You don’t have to take a long step back. Make sure to keep your weight on your front leg and slightly lean forward from your hips (not your knees!). This way, you should feel a deep stretch in your glutes and outer thighs at the bottom of the motion. While pushing up, don’t use your back leg and contract your entire front leg to lift your body. You can put your back leg down or keep it elevated once you return to the starting position, for increased core challenge.
Side Lunges are basically a variation of a one-legged squat. There are several ways to perform this exercise. Some people stay in a wide stance squat and then squat to the left and then to the right. However, this variation of the Side Lunge targets your inner thighs and glutes, as well as outer thighs and will build strength. You will perform all repetitions on one side first. The leg sliding outwards is just there for balance, you can even raise your leg for increased challenge. You don’t have to use a slider at all for this exercise.
Hip Thrusts and Glute Bridges with Bands
Glute Bridges and Hip Thrusts are one of the best exercises for women. They target primarily your glutes but also your deep hip muscles and transverse abdominis (your deepest abdominal muscle – if it is strong, it will suck your stomach in automatically and protect your back plus you get a flat belly).
Thus, it is a perfect exercise for women over 50 or after giving birth, to build up your deep core muscles. To increase activation of your outer thighs, simply add a resistance band around your knees and focus on pushing your knees outwards the whole time. You can also leave your lower back pressed against the ground and then abduct your legs.
In addition to that, you could keep your hips high, squeezing your glutes and abdominal muscles, while moving your knees out and in. Make sure you are not holding your breath!
Side Clam Raise
Another basic exercise that targets the glutes, outer and inner thighs. It is crucial to keep your core contracted the whole time while performing this exercise. You can also place one hand on your top glute to make sure the right muscles are activating. Push through your heels and don’t raise your leg too high. You should just raise it as much as you can feel your legs to the work, not your lower back.
Add resistance bands or a dumbbell on top of your thigh for more muscle-building benefits.
Inner Thigh Leg Raises
This exercise is actually very challenging. You need to contract your entire body properly and make sure your inner thighs are the only muscles doing the work. I would recommend adding this exercise to your routine once you have performed the other exercises for a few weeks and build up enough strength.
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Have fun training!