Tone Your Inner Thighs With Side Lunges

Only through a combination of proper nutrition and dedicated total-body exercise will the thigh fat disappear, revealing the lean, hard muscle you’ve worked so hard to develop.

Q: My inner thighs are like jelly. What exercise can I do to tone them up?

A: First I need to give the disclaimer that if your problem is due to excess fat, no specific exercise is going to do the trick. Performing exercises for the inner thighs will only serve to firm up the underlying muscle, not strip away the flab. When you lose weight, fat is mobilized from all regions of your body. While some areas are more resistant than others, there is no way to localize fat loss to a particular area, including the inner thighs. Only through a combination of proper nutrition and dedicated total-body exercise will the thigh fat disappear, revealing the lean, hard muscle you’ve worked so hard to develop.

That said, if your problem is due to a lack of muscle tone, then there is help via the exercise route. The primary muscles of the inner thigh are called the adductors, which consist of three separate muscles: the adductor brevis, adductor longus and adductor magnus. Not only are the adductors important from an aesthetic standpoint, but they also help stabilize the lower body and promote good posture.

The adductors are worked in any compound leg movement, such as squats and leg presses. These exercises are terrific overall thigh developers and should be included in any comprehensive routine. To really firm up the inner thighs, though, it’s beneficial to add in some targeted movements that help isolate the adductors. The primary adduction exercises involve bringing the leg toward the midline of the body. There are specific machines that accomplish this task (commonly known as the inner thigh machine), but you can also do it lying down or even standing, using leg weights or strength bands for added resistance.

My personal favorite inner thigh exercise is called the side lunge. It places the adductors in a position to directly oppose gravity and because of the ability to use heavier weights, really blasts them into development. Here’s how to perform the move: begin by assuming a stance slightly wider than shoulder width. Grasp two dumbbells and hold one in front and one in back of your body. Keeping your left leg straight, slowly bend your right knee out to the side until your right thigh is parallel with the floor. Then, slowly rise back up and repeat this process immediately on your left. Do three sets of eight to 12 reps, making sure the last few reps are difficult to complete.

Amino Acids: Best Way to Consume

Q: Is it better to take amino acids separately or in combination?

A: As a rule, it’s generally better to consume amino acids as whole proteins or protein peptides versus taking them in their free form (as individual amino acids). In order to understand why, let’s take a quick look at how proteins are digested. The absorption of amino acids begins in the small intestine, where they must pass through the intestinal brush border before being taken up by intestinal cells. The process, however, requires an active carrier system. As the name implies, this system actively transports amino acids across the intestinal brush border for assimilation.

Here’s the kicker, though. In their free-form state, amino acids all use the same carrier system and therefore compete with each other for entry into the cells. When a particular amino acid is consumed in abundance, it can impair absorption of other amino acids, leading to an imbalance. This can cause the breakdown of internal proteins, especially those in your muscles, to replenish the body’s supply of the deficient amino acids – not a desirable scenario.

The human body is actually more adept at digesting amino acids as peptides (which are obtained from the digestion of whole foods or specially formulated supplements). Peptides have their own carrier systems that provide transport across the intestinal brush border. The difference, though, is that the peptide carrier system has a larger transport capacity than the carrier system for single amino acids, promoting better absorption and therefore, better muscle development, than free amino acids.

So unless there’s a specific reason to do otherwise, avoid taking amino acids in their free form. At best, all you’ll get is expensive urine; at worst, you can impair nutrient absorption and cause an amino acid imbalance. If you opt for a protein supplement, choose whole protein powders (such as whey, egg, etc.) or protein peptides instead.

Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D., CSCS, CSPS, FNSCA is an internationally renowned fitness expert and widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on training for muscle development and fat loss. He is a lifetime drug-free bodybuilder, and has won numerous natural bodybuilding titles. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed studies on various exercise- and nutrition-related topics. Brad is a best-selling author of multiple fitness books including The M.A.X. Muscle Plan (Human Kinetics, 2012), which has been widely referred to as the “muscle-building bible” and Strong and Sculpted (Human Kinetics, 2016), which details a cutting-edge, body-sculpting program targeted to women. Brad also has authored the seminal textbook Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy (Human Kinetics, 2016), the first text devoted to an evidence-based elucidation of the mechanisms and strategies for optimizing muscle growth. In total, Brad’s books have sold over a half-million copies. For more information, visit http://www.lookgreatnaked.com/ For more information, visit lookgreatnaked.com

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