Our thighs are made up of three very strong and dominant muscle groups – the quadriceps, hamstrings and the adductors (inner thighs). It is obvious how to train and work on our hamstrings and quads, because there are so many machines and exercises made specifically for those muscle groups. However, there is more confusion around how to “tone the inner thighs.” Unfortunately, you cannot target fat loss to one specific area. But…you CAN build muscle (which burns fat!) in targeted areas to help tighten up a trouble spot. So if you’re looking to shape up those inners, you’ll need to hit the weight room!
Best Training Approach
The adductor muscles are predominantly made up of slow twitch muscle fibers, which means the best way to target them is by performing higher reps with a lower weight. To train them, you will want to take a wider stance than usual and make sure to include single-leg movements into your workout.
It’s important to use double-leg movements too—you will hit your inner thighs by doing so. However, using both legs will recruit many other muscle groups at the same time (core, quads and hamstrings) and that may cause you to have a difficult time really feeling the attention being put on the adductors.
The good news is you’re probably already doing many of the adductor exercises in the gym on leg day. So all you need to do is make some small adjustments to your stance and add a few supplemental and unilateral exercises in that will target those adductors and shape up your inner thighs.
4 Favorite Adductor Exercises
Of course, you can use the adductor machine at the gym to target this area, but here are my favorite adductor exercises and a sample workout:
To target the inner thighs during squats, take a slightly wider stance that normal (close to 2x your shoulder width) and turn your toes out slightly. From there, perform your squat with good form. Make sure to keep weight in your heels, your knees pointed in the direction of your toes, chest lifted and core activated. Don’t let your knees travel forward beyond your toes.
You can choose Conventional or Romanian style for these (or both!), and as long as you apply the same sumo-style stance as your squats in number 1 above, the burn you feel during these will be your adductors!
3. Bulgarian Split Squats
Head over to the Smith Machine with a box or a bench (or grab dumbbells and find a bench) and place the top of one foot behind you on the bench. Make sure the bench is not taller than knee height. Keep your front foot out in front of you and squat down until your back knee (the one on the bench) lowers toward the ground. Adjust your front foot forward if you see your front knee traveling beyond your toes. Push yourself back up, driving through the heel and keeping your torso upright to keep all of the focus in your hamstring and adductors.
- I like to also do this plyometric-style without weight. In an open area, place your back leg on a knee-height surface (a box, bench, chair or tire will do) and while using the same form as above, perform the movement explosively, jumping with the front foot.
4. 45° Side Lunges
From a standing, hip-width position with dumbbells in your hands at your sides, lunge 45° to the right with your right leg, keeping your hips facing forward and making sure the right foot and knee also point in the same 45° angle that you are stepping out. Return to standing and repeat on the left leg. You may do all your reps on one leg before switching, or you may alternate legs. I prefer to do all reps on one leg before switching so that I can keep my form strong and keep all the momentum from switching directions out of the movement.
A Sample Workout
2-3 warm-up sets
3 sets of 15 reps
4 sets of 15 reps
Bulgarian Split Squats
3 sets of 15 reps (reps are per leg)
Bulgarian Jump Squats (no weight)
3 sets of 30 reps (reps are per leg)
45° Side Lunges
4 sets of 15 reps (reps are per leg)