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After the troublesome tummy area, the thighs are a key focus area for many women. While some may envy their slimmer friends with gorgeous gams, even the more svelte ladies may find it seems an elusive goal at times to achieve the “ideal” thighs.

No matter their size, your thighs can benefit from being strong, toned and powerful. Your thighs and quads are the foundation of strength for your body, and are vital for supporting your body in its daily tasks, whether or not you consider yourself to be a “gym person”. Here are a few exercises to help ignite your metabolism and build lean, compact muscle. Aim to do at least 4-5 of these moves a minimum of three times a week, for best results.

1. Wide-Stance Squat

wide squat stance

wide-stance squat

Start off with a simple wide-stance squat to get the blood pumping to the lower body: How to do it: Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes pointed out to 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. Slowly lower for two counts into a squat position. Hold the squat for one count, then straighten your legs for two counts to go back to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions of these.

2. Wall Squat With Ball Squeeze

ball squat

wall squat with ball

This simple move can be made even more effective by incorporating a small yoga or exercise ball. By squeezing the ball between your legs while performing a wall squat, you will further engage the thigh muscles resulting in stronger quadriceps—and more calories burned. How to do it: Stand with your back and shoulders against a smooth surface. Place ball between knees. Slowly lower into a wall squat where knees are in a 90-degree angle. Continue squeezing the ball. Slowly return to standing. To modify, try quarter squats by starting with 45- to 90-degree squats. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

3. Gate Swings

gate swing exercise

gate swing exercise

This move is a great warm-up because it activates your core and stabilising muscles as well as your inner thighs. How to do it: Stand on your left leg with your hands clasped behind your head. Bend your right knee and swing your leg up and across your body, right foot flexed. Without putting your right foot down on the floor, sweep your right leg out to the right side. Repeat 10 times back and forth with the right leg, and then 10 times with the left. Brace your abs during the entire movement to help keep your balance.

4. Double Cloth Lunges

thighs-cloth-lunge

double cloth lunges

Lunges are one of the most effective exercises for targeting your entire thigh, but to really engage the muscles, consider using exercise sliders, a towel, or even paper plates on a smooth surface to perform this exercise. How to do it: On a smooth surface, stand with feet in a hip-width position with one foot on a cloth. Slowly slide the foot with the towel forward and slowly lower into a front lunge. Hold for 5 seconds. Slowly slide the foot back up to a standing position. Slowly slide the foot with the towel backwards and slowly lower into a back lunge. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to standing position. One rep includes a front and a back lunge. Do 2 or 3 sets of 12 reps on each leg.

5. Sumo Squat Slide In

sumo squat

sumo squat

Sumo squats are awesome inner-thigh toners. The addition of the slide in this move forces your muscles to work even harder. How to do it: Stand with your feet together, knees and toes turned out about 45 degrees. Take a wide step out to the side with your right foot, and squat down as low as you can. Keep your back straight, drop your hips low, and reach your arms to the ground in front of you. As you stand up, slide your right foot into your left, squeezing your legs together until your heels touch, and reach your arms overhead. Step back out into your squat with your left foot and repeat 20 times total, switching legs each time. Make sure to keep your knees pointing over your toes as you lower into your squat position.

6. Curtsy Lunge

curtsy lunge

curtsy lunge

This move hits multiple muscles at once, and also targets muscles on varying planes of motion. How to do it: Stand with hands on your waist, feet shoulder-width apart. In one move, step back and across so your legs are crossed, and then sit into a lunge position. Come up and step back to the starting position with feet shoulder width apart. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

7. Side Shuffle Switch

side shuffle

side shuffle

This fast-paced move gets your heart rate up and engages your inner-thigh muscles.

10. Leg Curl

thighs-leg-curl

leg curl

Sometimes our hamstrings inadvertently get ignored because they’re less visible than our quad muscles, but keeping your hamstring strong is important to prevent knee injuries. This move targets the hamstrings directly, and helps give great shape to the leg. How to do it: Lie flat on your back with your calves on the top of an exercise ball. Squeeze your abs and glutes and lift your body off the floor, keeping your head and feet in a straight line. Slowly bend your knees, pressing your feet into the ball and pull the ball towards your body. Raise your hips as you pull the ball toward your body. Hold for 5 seconds and slowly extend your legs back out to starting position. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.  
Adapted for WellnessConnect from Sources:
prevention.com realsimple.com shape.com