Don’t Skip Your Inner Thighs on Leg Day—Here’s the Perfect Workout to Target Them

·5 min read

When it comes to lower-body workouts, most cyclists run through a few squats, lunges, and deadlifts and figure they’re covered. While these are all important and highly effective exercises, there’s a crucial muscle group that could use a little more movement—that is, the adductors, a.k.a. the inner thighs.

To help you hit these stabilizing muscles, Amber Rees, chief curriculum lead at Barry’s in New York City and co-founder of the Brave Body Project, created this inner thigh workout. We all know the quads, hamstrings, and glutes are key muscle groups that help power our pedal stroke and improve cycling efficiency, “but I’m here to tell you that your inner thighs are screaming for some attention too,” she tells Bicycling.

The Benefits of This Inner Thigh Workout for Runners

“Not only do the inner thighs help support stability, but these muscles are a big part of your hip flexion and extension,” Rees says. That means, as you push the pedals, the inner thighs help drive your knees up and extend your leg down to finish out the stroke.

“Strengthening the inner muscles will also help prevent injury,” Rees adds. She explains that the adductors assist with rotation toward the midline (or center of the body) in the hip and knee and, therefore, you need them strong in order to help stabilize the pelvis as you ride. “If there is weakness in the adductors, it could possibly result in overcompensation with other muscles, which could lead to injury,” Rees says.

Programmed by Rees, the following inner thigh workout is designed to fire up the inner thighs, while engaging the entire lower body (hey, glutes and hamstrings!) and the core.

How to use this list: Perform each exercise below for 50 seconds, resting for 10 seconds between exercises. Repeat the full circuit 2 to 3 times. Rest for 1 minute between rounds.

Each move is demonstrated by Rees in the video above so you can learn the proper form. A set of heavy dumbbells and an exercise mat are required. A slider is optional.

1. Sumo Squat With Heel Raise

inner thigh workout, sumo squat with heel raise
Amber Rees

Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart and toes turned out 45 degrees. Hold a dumbbell vertically at chest, grasping one end with both hands. (Alternatively, this movement can be performed with just bodyweight.) With pelvis in neutral position, send hips back and down, and bend at knees until thighs are parallel with the ground. Keep knees aligned with toes and chest lifted as you squat. At the bottom of the sumo squat, raise heels off the ground and balance on balls of feet. Pause, then lower heels and press through feet to stand all the way back up. Repeat.

2. Sumo Deadlift

inner thigh workout, sumo deadlift
Amber Rees

Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart and toes turned out 45 degrees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward. With a soft bend in knees, hinge at hips, and push butt back as you lower torso toward ground. Keep back flat and stop when you feel a slight pull in hamstrings. Stand back up, squeezing glutes and inner thighs. Repeat.

3. Alternating Lateral Lunge

inner thigh workout, alternating lateral lunge
Amber Rees

Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart and toes pointed forward. Hold a dumbbell horizontally in front of hips. (Alternatively, this movement can be performed with just bodyweight.) Shift weight to left leg as you push hips back and bend left knee. Keep right heel down, right leg straight, head up, and back flat. Allow arms to hang down straight and dumbbell to hover above ground. Return to wide standing stance by driving through left foot. Then, perform lunge on right side: shift weight to right leg, push hips back, and bend right knee. Return to standing. Continue alternating.

4. Sliding Sumo Squat Right

inner thigh workout, sliding sumo squat right
Amber Rees

This exercise is best performed on a hard, smooth surface while wearing socks or using a slider or furniture mover. Stand with heels together and toes pointed out 45 degrees. Slide right foot out into a wide-legged stance. With pelvis in neutral position, send hips back and down, and bend at knees until thighs are parallel with the ground. Keep knees aligned with toes and chest lifted as you squat. As you return to standing, use inner thigh to press right foot into ground and slide right foot in toward left. Repeat.

5. Side-Lying Leg Lift Right

inner thigh workout, sidelying leg lift right
Amber Rees

Lie on right side, right palm propping up head and left palm on floor in front of chest for stability. Keeping hips stacked, cross left leg over right, bend knee, and plant left foot on ground in front of right knee. This is your starting position. Keep right leg straight and foot flexed as you use inner thigh to lift leg off ground only as high as you can without compromising form or balance. Lower with control to starting position. Repeat.

6. Sliding Sumo Squat Left

inner thigh workout, sliding sumo squat left
Amber Rees

This exercise is best performed on a hard, smooth surface while wearing socks or using a slider or furniture mover. Stand with heels together and toes pointed out 45 degrees. Slide left foot out into a wide-legged stance. With pelvis in neutral position, send hips back and down, and bend at knees until thighs are parallel with the ground. Keep knees aligned with toes and chest lifted as you squat. As you return to standing, use inner thigh to press left foot into ground and slide left foot in toward right. Repeat.

7. Side-Lying Leg Lift Left

inner thigh workout, side lying leg lift left
Amber Rees

Lie on left side, left palm propping up head and right palm on floor in front of chest for stability. Keeping hips stacked, cross right leg over left, bend knee, and plant right foot on ground in front of left knee. This is your starting position. Keep left leg straight and foot flexed as you use inner thigh to lift leg off ground only as high as you can without compromising form or balance. Lower with control to return to starting position. Repeat.

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