Your thighs make up the thickest, most muscular areas of your leg, maybe even your entire body. It’s quite common for men to focus their training on the upper body while neglecting their legs. Conversely, many women place quite a bit of emphasis on the lower body while neglecting the upper body. It is important to train every part of the body, but today, let’s focus on the seven best thigh exercises to build, strengthen, tone and define the muscles of your thighs.
The main muscles to consider when exercising the thighs are the quadriceps muscles and the hamstrings. The lesser mentioned muscle groups work the inner and outer thighs. Though these groups often don’t get the attention they deserve, they are a crucial a part of achieving optimal definition and muscular balance in your thighs. If you training incorporates these areas effectively, you will have a thigh exercise program that’s designed to keep your legs looking strong and fit for many years to come.
What exercises will allow us to effectively work the the quadriceps, hamstrings, inner thighs and outer thighs?
1. The Squat
This is one of the “bread and butter” leg building exercises for the legs (just as bench pressing is for the chest). Performed with a barbell, the squat is an exercise where you stand with your legs shoulder-width apart (or more, depending on what part the leg you want to emphasize. Deep squats, with heavy weights and good form, will work your quadriceps as primary muscles, and your hamstrings/glutes (butt) as secondary muscles.
2. The Leg Press
This exercise follows the same basic principles as the squat, except instead of using a barbell, you’ll use a machine, and instead of standing you’re sitting
3. The Leg Extension
I consider this the perfect quad/thigh-scultping exercise. As with any exercise, add more weight will help to develop more mass. But using a weight you can control can be beneficial. Squeezing your quads when your legs reach the contraction phase, helps to develop the “teardrop” muscle just above the knee as well as the muscle striations along the front of the thighs.
4. The Leg Curl
The ultimate hamstring exercise machine! There are three types of leg curl machines that I’ve seen: sitting, standing, and the flat leg curl. I think the flat leg curl is best, because it makes it easier to use the exercise’s full range of motion. Select your weight, adjust the machine’s pad to fit your height. Lie face down on the Leg Curl bench. The pad should rest just above your achilles tendons. Pull the pad using your hamstring muscles (the motion should be like trying to kick yourself in the butt with your heels while lying down).
5. The Deadlift
This deadlift is an exercise that’s also designed for the hamstrings. You bend at your waist, keeping your torso straight. Pick up a weight barbell without bending your knees. You lift the weight by bringing your torso back into an upright position. Thrust your hips forward at the end of the motion to put emphasis on your glutes. An exercise that’s perfect for building overall strength.
6. The Lunge
Holding two dumbbells at your sides. You take one big step forward with one leg, when the stepping leg touches the floor, you bend it. The makes the the midpoint of the exercise look like a half kneel. You return to the original position, and do the same thing with the other leg. Using dumbbells makes the balance for this exercise a bit easier. A great, overall thigh and glutes exercise.
7. Hip Abduction and Adduction Machine
In the gym you’ll usually you’ll see more women using this piece of equipment than men. From a seated position, you push two pads resting on the outside of your legs by separating your knees (outer thighs). Or you can push the two pads by bringing your knees together (works the inner thighs).
Work those legs!!