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Sleeker Thighs in 3 Moves

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Beginner

1. Bent-Knee Extension

Targets hamstrings (back of thigh)
Lie faceup on floor with arms at sides, knees bent 90 degrees and heels shoulder-width apart on a stability ball. Lift hips toward the ceiling, being careful not to overarch back. Hold for 3 counts and lower. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps.

2. Seated Leg Raise

Targets quads (front of thigh)
Sit on floor with your back pressed into a wall, legs extended in front of you with feet flexed. Raise right leg off floor as high as you comfortably can, keeping foot flexed. Lower to floor without touching; do 20 continuous reps. Repeat with left leg.

3. Scissor Kick

Targets adductors (inner thigh)
Lie faceup on floor with arms at sides, palms down and legs extended. Lift legs about 45 degrees, pointing toes. Quickly open and close your legs, crossing the right thigh over the left and then reversing the movement. Continue scissoring legs; do 12 to 15 reps per side.

Intermediate

1. Extended Leg Curl

Targets hamstrings (back of thigh)
Lie faceup on floor with heels placed shoulder-width apart on a stability ball, arms at sides on floor, palms down. Lift hips toward ceiling and hold for 2 counts. Slowly pull ball toward body, keeping hips lifted, then roll it back toward start. Do 8 to 10 reps.

2. Single-Leg Wall Extension

Targets quads (front of thigh)
Stand with your back pressed into a wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Bend knees 90 degrees. From this position, straighten right leg, pointing toes. Hold for 3 counts and lower. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps; switch legs.

3. Ballerina Squat with Knee Bend

Targets adductors (inner thigh)
Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out. Bend knees 45 degrees and hold. From here, shift your body weight to the left side, keeping left knee bent while straightening right leg. Hold for 1 count; switch sides, straightening left leg and bending right knee. Repeat; alternate legs for 8 to 10 reps per side.

Advanced

1. Single-Leg Hip Curl

Targets hamstrings (back of thigh)
Lie faceup on floor, legs extended, arms at sides and heels shoulder-width apart on a stability ball. Raise hips toward ceiling and hold. Lift your right leg off the ball, pointing toes toward ceiling. Slowly pull the ball toward your body using your left leg; keep hips lifted. Roll back to start and repeat; do 8 to 10 reps per leg.

2. Flamingo Squat

Targets quads (front of thigh)
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Raise right leg about 3 inches off the floor and squat down with left leg, bending knee about 45 degrees. Straighten leg and repeat, balancing on left side; keep right leg elevated. Do 8 to 10 reps per side.

3. Single-Leg Knee Adduction

Targets adductors (inner thighs)
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, lift right leg off the floor, bending right knee 90 degrees; keep hands on hips. Bring right leg 45 degrees away from body, balancing on left leg. From this position, bring right knee toward right side and back toward center. Do 8 to 10 reps; return to start and repeat on opposite side.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, December 2006.

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