Our inner thigh muscles are the group of muscles that close, or adduct, our legs together.

These adductors help us maintain balance and stabilize the hips. Many exercises and movements that focus on larger muscle groups miss this area. So what’s the answer when your goal is to tone your inner thighs?

There are dozens of exercises that can isolate the inner thighs. If you’re looking to incorporate movements that are more well-rounded and time-efficient without skipping smaller muscle groups, these squat variations can be a nice addition to your lower body routine.

Traditional Sumo Squats

Sumo squats differ from traditional squats in the positioning of the feet.

With a traditional squat, the toes are pointing forward or slightly angled out. In a sumo squat, the feet are placed wider and the toes are angled out away from the midline of the body. This creates a new challenge due to foot positioning changing your base of support.

Equipment needed: For advanced levels of fitness, you will need a dumbbell or a kettlebell, but these can also be performed without any weight if needed.

Muscles worked: Quadriceps, gluteus muscles, hips, hamstrings, calves, and inner thighs.

  1. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Give yourself a few feet and stand wide.
  2. Angle the toes out and away from the center of your body.
  3. Bend the knees and the hips to lower into your squat, squeezing your glutes at the bottom of the move.
  4. Be mindful to keep your back neutral and long, drawing the tailbone straight down to the floor each time. Avoid allowing your knees to go out beyond your toes or allowing your upper torso to lean forward.
  5. Once lowered, press up to standing, driving up through your heels.
  6. Start with 3 sets of 8-12 reps. 

Advanced

As you progress, you can use a dumbbell held lengthwise or a kettlebell. Hold with 2 hands while extending your arms long, letting it hang down the center of your body. Be careful not to increase your weight on this movement too fast. With the feet in this position, it’s wise to start conservative with your weight choice and slowly increase resistance.

Plié Squats with an Inner Thigh Pull In

The plié squat is the same as the sumo squat, and they are often interchanged. This variation adds a little extra work to the inner thigh adductors and glutes.

Equipment needed: No equipment is necessary. You can use a glider under your foot to help move your feet together.

Muscles worked: This movement pattern strengthens the quadriceps, gluteus muscles, hips, hamstrings, and calves with an extra focus on inner thighs and abductors.

  1. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Give yourself a few feet and stand wide without overextending.
  2. Place a glider under 1 foot.
  3. Angle the toes out and away from the center of your body in a natural turned out position.
  4. Bend the knees and the hips to lower into your squat, squeezing your glutes at the bottom of the move.
  5. Be mindful to keep your back neutral and long, drawing the tailbone straight down to the floor each time. Avoid allowing your knees to go out beyond your toes or allowing your upper torso to lean forward.
  6. Once lowered, start to return to standing but drag your left heel in toward the center to bring your heels together, finishing standing tall and squeezing your thighs together.
  7. Slide back out with the same side and lower back into the plié squat position.
  8. Start with 3 sets of 8 on each leg.

Goblet Squats

The goblet squat, like the sumo squat, focuses on not only quadriceps but the inner thighs and our posterior chain as well. This squat variation is a great addition to a lower body routine to strengthen and tone the legs.

It does require some moderate flexibility to perform correctly. Practicing this move without weight to begin is recommended.

Equipment needed: none (you can add a kettlebell or dumbbell later)

Muscles worked: quadriceps, gluteus muscle group, hips, calves, and hamstrings

  1. Stand with feet just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward or slightly turned out.
  2. As you lower into your squat position, keep your feet planted and pry the knees out and away.
  3. Keep the weight in your heels and your spine feeling tall and long.
  4. Shoulders should stay back and down.
  5. Pausing at the bottom, squeeze your glute muscles and push back up to standing without leaning forward.
  6. Start with 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Advanced

As you grow stronger in this movement pattern, you can start to add weight to hold through your sets.

The Takeaway

Compound movements like squats are an efficient way to strengthen your body. They target many muscle groups with the same exercise, teaching your body to coordinate movements that involve many muscle groups.

Adding moves to strengthen your inner thighs will improve your overall balance and help protect the hips from injury when performing other intense or heavy exercise. Using a variety of exercises, rather than the same ones over and over, is key to true body balance.

As with any exercise routine, check with a doctor first and obtain some basic gym equipment instruction from a qualified trainer to make sure you are performing with correct form. Learning correct exercise form before adding weight is the safest way to build strength quickly.