The lower body has some of the largest and strongest muscles (we’re looking at you, hamstrings and quadriceps), and because they support the rest of our body, they are essential for general strength development. “Strong legs boost overall performance throughout your everyday activities as well as helping you to thigh exercises more efficiently, intensively, and safely,” says Jillian Michaels, fitness expert, celebrity trainer, and founder of The Fitness App.
Thigh strength also supports the knee joint, according to Bree Branker Koegel, NASM-CPT, a FitOn app trainer. This is crucial for those who like high-impact sports like jogging and leaping. “A strong quad and calf will work together to keep the knee in good alignment,” she explains. Oh, and did we mention that thigh exercises improve the effectiveness of butt workouts? This is a true tale.
On leg day, are you ready to lavish extra attention on your thighs? Michaels and Koegel offer nine thigh-strengthening exercises in the video below. There are a variety of equipment exercises you can do in the gym as well as bodyweight thigh workouts you can do at home or anyplace.
But first, let’s talk about how to warm up for thigh workouts
Instead of static stretches, Michaels suggests a dynamic stretch, which involves progressively moving your body through a full range of motion without adding any weight. A three- to five-minute aerobic warm-up, such as running around the block, going up the stairs in your apartment building, or jumping rope, is a more easy alternative, she adds. To warm up your body, she recommends completing a few no-equipment movements like high knees, butt kicks, jumping jacks, arm circles, hip circles, or alternating punches.
Form is crucial for avoiding injuries in this activity, as it is in all others. Use the videos in this post as a starting point, and if you need additional help, go to YouTube. You may also adjust the workout by adding weight only once you’ve mastered the movement pattern. “Make sure that if your form isn’t good, you adjust the action by doing fewer reps, using less weight, or reducing the range of motion if absolutely necessary,” Michaels advises. Start gently and listen to your body if something doesn’t seem right.
9 thigh exercises that take leg day to the next level
Michaels advises deadlifts to work out your thighs if you’re in the gym or have access to a couple of dumbbells. Start with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet hip-width apart. Make sure your knees are slightly bent and your tailbone is tucked. Michaels explains, “From here, we rotate the palms with the weights to the front of the thighs, hinging forward at the hips, keeping your back flat and belly button pushed in.” “Lower the weights and your body as much as possible, aiming to get your torso parallel to the ground.”
Michaels emphasises the importance of keeping your back flat. If you don’t have enough hamstring flexibility, she suggests descending as far as you can while keeping proper form and tightening your glutes. Then, return your body to its original posture. You may make it more difficult by employing heavier weights.
2. Deadlifts in Romania
A barbell is required for a Romanian deadlift. So, unless you have a massive home gym, you’ll have to go to the gym to complete this thigh workout. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart behind a barbell parallel to your torso, just like you would with dumbbell deadlifts. Grab the barbell with both hands with your hands hip-width apart and your knees bent. Maintain a lofty posture by tucking your tailbone. Maintain a small bend in your knees and a forward hip hinge by pressing your tailbone back and maintaining your back straight. Attempt to get your torso as horizontal to the ground as possible.
“The limit of your range of motion is when you don’t have enough flexibility in your hamstrings and you feel your back rounding,” Michaels adds. “Only go as deep as you can with a flat back into that stretch. Keep in mind that the knees do not move. Throughout the workout, they maintain a gentle bend. Exhale and drive your hips forward, clench your glutes, and return to your starting posture when you reach the midpoint.”
A decent set of squats will also suffice. “Bring your feet hip-width apart, then sit backward and down as though on a park bench,” Michaels advises. “Lower your hips to the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then, while standing tall and zipping up your abs, fully straighten your legs, pulling your tailbone in and tucking it.”
4. Split squats in Bulgaria
Bulgarian split squats are a great way to increase the difficulty of your squats. “Starting in a split squat posture, raise the rear leg on a low surface, such as a step or a chair, with the top of the foot resting on the surface,” explains Koegel. “Squat down on the front leg while maintaining balance, grounding through the floor with the heel of the front foot. Return to standing by pressing out of the squatting front foot, then repeat on the other side.”
5. Squat jumps
Jump squats are a great way to get your heart pounding and strengthen your thighs, according to Koegel. “Power through the feet and swing the arms down to jump into the air from the bottom of a bodyweight squat, landing lightly at the top of a squat to repeat,” she adds. After a few of them, you’ll definitely be feeling the heat.
Is it even considered a leg day if you don’t perform any lunges? We don’t believe so. Stand with your feet hip-width apart to perform the original thigh exercise. With one leg, take a step forward while lowering the rear knee to an inch off the ground. Return to the beginning position and do the same thing with the opposite leg. The key to a flawless lunge, according to Michaels, is to ensure that the knee does not travel past the toe, that the torso is perpendicular to the ground, that the tailbone is tucked, and that the core is engaged.
7. Lunges when walking
Add a walking motion to your lunges to make them more interesting. “Lunge the back knee towards the ground with each stride forward, hovering once the back shin is parallel with the ground,” Koegel explains. “Press the front foot out of the floor to stand, then repeat on the opposite side.” If you don’t have much room, consider a jump lunge, as seen in the video above, for an added aerobic boost.
8. Lunge to the side
The lunges keep going. You’re going to do them side to side this time to target the inner and outer thighs. “Lunge one leg parallel to the side, bringing the torso with you, with shoulders, hips, knees, and toes all pointing forward,” Koegel adds. “Rearrange your hips so that they are above the lunging leg. To stand, press the lunging foot out of the floor, then repeat on the other side.”
9. Tilt of the pelvis
A pelvic thrust is another fantastic thigh exercise that Michaels advises, and you can perform it while lying down on the floor, so it gets additional points for that. Lay on your back with your legs bent and your hips wide apart to do a pelvic thrust. At the highest position, lift your hips and squeeze your glutes as tight as possible.