Focused thigh exercises target the muscles of the upper legs: hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors, and abductors.
Fitness Workout Programs are designed for general strengthening and toning your body. One of the common Fitness Training Goals that women target is the thighs.
Many of the muscles of the thighs span two joints: the hip and knee. So, when you work the thigh muscles, you also strengthen and shape the hips and gluteal muscles.
Targeting the different ranges of motion of the hip and knee joints activates muscles that would normally play supporting roles in everyday activities.
The Priority Fitness Exercise for the lower body is the squat, the free weight exercise that works the major muscles used for bending and extending the knees and hips, including the quadriceps and hamstrings.
There are a number of alternatives for the squat that strengthen and shape the thighs. See Strength Fitness
In addition to free weight exercises, machines are very effective in targeting the muscle groups around the thighs. The seated leg press and hack squat performed on weight machines are good thigh exercises that work both joints without having the weight of the bar on the body.
Several other machines target the thighs at only one joint. Leg extensions at the knee joint are performed from a seated position where straighten your legs against the machine’s resistance.
This exercise emphasizes the quadriceps, the four muscles in the front of the thigh. A major mover is the rectus femoris.
For knee flexion exercises on machines, start with your legs straight and bend your knees against resistance. This is a good hamstring exercise for the muscles in the back of the thigh.
Abduction and Adduction Machine
The inner thigh muscles are collectively called the adductors (“add” means “toward”). Adductor machines offer resistance when the legs are brought together from a straddle-like, position toward the midline of the body.
The outer thigh and hip muscles are called the abductors (“ab” means “away from”). These muscles are strengthened when the legs widen away from the midline of the body to a straddle-like position using an abductor machine. With one minor adjustment, the machine pictured works both the inner and outer muscles of the thigh. (Courtesy of Snap Fitness Knoxville)
If you do not have access to machines, performing exercises without weights is always an option, at least for a while.
Leg Raise For example, for the outer thighs and hips, lie on your side and raise your leg, as pictured. Your foot should be pointed forward to work the abductors. Make sure that your legs are in line with or behind the neutral position so that you better involve the piriformis muscle. You can do this exercise standing, as well.
Examples of other exercises that can be performed without equipment include climbing stairs and hiking. Exercising in water forces you to overcome its resistance in any range of motion.
There are many other thigh exercises that help you target, strengthen, and shape the lower body. When you combine strengthening exercises with aerobic activities and diet control, you will begin to see and feel the difference before long.
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