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Thigh Workout Guide: 7 Effective Exercises for Building Leg Strength

You’ve been working out for ages, and you have proudly declared that you “never miss leg day.” You go heavy on squats, lunges, and even less popular leg exercises like hamstring curls.

But did you know that your legs are made up of more than just quads and hamstrings? These muscles may be bigger than the others, but they aren’t the only ones contributing to your overall leg strength.

The adductors, a lesser-known group of muscles in your inner thighs, play a vital role in stabilizing your lower body and enhancing athletic performance.

These muscles often get overlooked in standard workout routines, leaving a potential power source untapped.

Let’s explore the best thigh-focused exercises to add to your regimen for a balanced, comprehensive approach to leg training.

What Workouts Are Best for Thighs?

The best workout for thighs mostly targets all the parts of the thigh.

Let’s review thigh anatomy in detail so that you can get a better understanding of how these exercises affect your thighs (1).

The thigh is made up of three compartments, each containing different muscle groups.

The anterior compartment contains the quadriceps, which consists of four muscles: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis. These muscles work together in the extension (straightening) of the knee.

The medial compartment contains the adductor muscles, specifically the adductor magnus, longus, and brevis. These muscles are responsible for pulling your leg towards your body in a motion known as adduction.

The posterior compartment contains the hamstrings, which consists of three muscles: biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. These muscles work together in the flexion (bending) of the knee.

Including exercises that target all three compartments will ensure a well-rounded thigh workout and help prevent muscle imbalances.

Our blog on Outer Thigh Exercise has a more detailed look into which movements target which muscles. 

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How Do You Train Fat Thighs?

You train fat thighs the same way you train any other muscle group – through a combination of proper nutrition, cardio, and strength training.

First, it’s important to maintain a well-balanced diet with enough protein to support muscle growth and repair.

Incorporating cardiovascular activities into your routine can also help reduce excess body fat and improve overall endurance (3).

When it comes to strength training, a mix of compound exercises (working multiple muscle groups at once) and isolation exercises (targeting specific muscles) is key.

We get into more detail in our blog titled – Get Rid of Inner Thigh Fat

7 Must-Have Thigh Exercises

There are many thigh exercises; we couldn’t exhaust the list even if we tried.

But in this guide, we’ll focus on seven exercises that are essential for building leg strength and sculpting toned thighs.

Sumo Squats

Squats in general are a great thigh exercise; they target almost all the muscles in your thighs.

But just by adjusting your stance and turning your toes out, you can put more emphasis on your inner thigh adductors.

To perform a sumo squat:

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and turn your toes out at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Engage your core and lower down into a squat, keeping your knees in line with your toes.
  3. Push through your heels to return to a standing position.
  4. Repeat for 12-15 reps.

You can make this exercise more challenging by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell at chest level or using resistance bands around your thighs.

Walking Lunges

Walking lunges target the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. WIth each step, you also engage your core for stability.

To perform a walking lunge:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Take a large step forward with your right leg and lower down into a lunge, keeping your front knee from going beyond your toes.
  3. Push through your front foot to return to the starting position and then repeat on the left leg.
  4. Continue alternating legs for 10-12 reps on each side.

To make this exercise more challenging, you can hold a dumbbell in each hand or use a barbell across your shoulders.

Read more: Your Flat Tummy Workouts Just Got Better With This Guide

Side Lying Leg Lifts

As far as no equipment thigh workouts, leg lifts are high up on the list of bodyweight exercises. They target the outer thigh and hip abductor muscles, helping to strengthen and shape your legs.

To perform a side lying leg lift:

  1. Lie on your right side with your hips stacked and legs extended.
  2. Lift your left leg towards the ceiling while keeping it straight.
  3. Slowly lower your leg back down to meet the right one.
  4. Repeat for 12-15 reps and then switch sides.

For an added challenge, you can place a resistance band around your thighs or use ankle weights.

Single-Leg Deadlifts

Deadlifts are typically seen as a posterior chain exercise,  they  work the back, hamstrings, glutes, and quads.

By performing them on one leg, you’re making a front thigh workout more challenging and engaging your core for balance.

To perform a single-leg deadlift:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Lift your left leg off the ground and hinge forward at the hips while keeping your back straight.
  3. Keep hinging until your torso is parallel to the ground, then push through your right heel to return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for 10-12 reps and then switch legs.

You can also use a resistance band or kettlebell for added difficulty.

Seated Hip Adduction

Performing thigh workouts with weights or machines means having great room for progressive overload, and that’s where the seated hip adduction comes in.

This exercise specifically targets the adductor muscles of the inner thighs.

To perform a seated hip adduction:

  1. Sit on a weight machine with your back against the support pad and feet resting on the footrests.
  2. Place a resistance band or pad between your knees.
  3. Press your legs together, engaging your inner thigh muscles, and then slowly release back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for 12-15 reps.

If you don’t have access to a machine, you can also do this exercise standing up and using a resistance band around your thighs.

Bulgarian Split Squats

This exercise is great for targeting the quads as well as improving balance and stability.

To perform a Bulgarian split squat:

  1. Stand facing away from a bench or raised platform, with one foot resting on the bench behind you.
  2. Lower down into a lunge position, keeping your front knee from going beyond your toes.
  3. Push through your front foot to return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for 10-12 reps and then switch legs.

You can hold dumbbells or use resistance bands to add difficulty.

Box Jumps

This plyometric exercise targets the entire leg, but also helps improve explosive power and speed.

To perform a box jump:

  1. Stand facing a sturdy box or bench.
  2. Jump onto the box, landing softly with your feet shoulder-width apart and hips above knees.
  3. Step down and repeat for 10-12 reps.

You can adjust the height of the box or use a weighted vest for added intensity.

Mix and Match These Thigh Exercises for an Effective Workout

While these seven exercises are great on their own, combining them in a workout routine will yield even better results.

Here’s a sample thigh workout using these exercises:

  1. Sumo squats – 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  2. Walking lunges – 3 sets of 10-12 reps on each side
  3. Side lying leg lifts – 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each side
  4. Single-leg deadlifts – 3 sets of 10-12 reps on each leg
  5. Seated hip adduction – 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  6. Bulgarian split squats – 3 sets of 10-12 reps on each leg
  7. Box jumps – 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Remember to always warm up before starting your workout and cool down afterwards to prevent injury. Don’t forget to listen to your body and adjust the intensity or reps as needed.

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How Can I Tone My Thighs Fast?

Thigh workouts at home or at the gym aren’t a quick fix, if that’s what you’re looking for. Building muscle and burning fat takes time and consistency.

However, incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your workout routine can help boost fat burning and increase muscle definition in a shorter amount of time (2).

Also, make sure to vary your exercises and add weights or resistance as you progress to continue challenging your muscles.

Remember that slow and steady progress is sustainable and more beneficial in the long run, compared to quick fixes or crash diets.

How To Lose Thigh Fat In 7 Days?

You can’t lose thigh fat in 7 days, and anyone who claims otherwise is not being truthful.

To lose fat in any area of your body, you need to create a calorie deficit through a combination of exercise and nutrition. And as previously mentioned, building muscle takes time.

Depending on how consistent you are with your workouts, and whether you’ve cleaned up your nutrition, you may start to see changes in your thigh area within a few weeks, months, or even a year.

Read more: Indoor Exercise 101: Your Guide to Effective Workouts at Home


  • How To Lose Leg Fat?

To lose leg fat you need to create a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you consume, while incorporating strength training exercises to build muscle and increase metabolism.

So first you’ll check your diet and make sure you’re eating in a calorie deficit and meeting your protein needs. Then, focus on strength training exercises that target the leg muscles such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts.

  • Will Running Slim My Legs?

Running can slim your legs by burning calories and reducing body fat. However, it’s important to note that spot reduction is not possible – meaning you can’t choose where you want to lose fat from your body.

But consistent running can help reduce overall body fat and improve muscle definition in the legs. Incorporating strength training exercises into your routine can also help tone and shape your leg muscles even further.

Our guide on Exercises to Lose Thigh Fat has more exercises that you can choose from for your workout.

  • Can I Lose Thigh Fat In 30 Days?

Maybe. How long it takes to lose thigh fat depends on various factors such as current body composition, workout consistency, and nutrition.

If you stay consistent with a calorie deficit and incorporate strength training exercises targeting the legs, you may start seeing changes in your thigh area within 30 days.

  • What Causes Fat Legs?

Fat legs can be caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, hormonal imbalances, and lifestyle habits such as lack of physical activity and poor nutrition.

Genetics –  Some people naturally have fat stored in their legs due to genetics.

Hormonal Imbalances – Hormonal imbalances, such as high levels of estrogen and cortisol, can cause the body to store more fat in certain areas like the legs (4).

Lifestyle Habits – Lack of physical activity and poor nutrition can lead to weight gain and excess fat storage in the legs (5).

The Bottom Line

Incorporating these seven thigh exercises into your workout routine will help build strength, tone and sculpt your thighs, and improve overall leg health. 

Remember to always listen to your body and adjust exercises as needed, and also pair these exercises with a healthy diet for optimal results.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb: Anterior Thigh Muscles (2023,nih,gov)
  2. Can High-Intensity Interval Training Promote Skeletal Muscle Anabolism? (2021,nih.gov)
  3. Effects of Exercise to Improve Cardiovascular Health (2019,nih.gov)
  4. Endocrine Changes in Obesity (2022,nih.gov)
  5. Influence of Lifestyle Habits in the Development of Obesity during Adolescence (2022,nih.gov)
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