This slimmer-thigh circuit created by Jessica Smith, fitness expert and star of the 10 Pounds DOWN: Better Body Blast DVD will help strengthen and tone your whole lower body—especially those thighs.
For best results, perform 15 reps of each move, back to back without rest, up to four days a week. And be sure to couple your lower-body workouts with cardio exercise and a healthy diet to stay slim and trim for good.
Want to boost your burn? Try adding a set of 5-10 pound dumbbells to some of the strength moves for more of a challenge.
Side Lunge to Crossover Tap
Target your thighs from every angle with this move designed to hit your inner thighs, quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
How to do it: Start standing with your feet together, arms down by your sides. Take a wide step to the side with your left foot (your right leg should stay extended), and bend your left knee, pushing your hips behind you. Keep your back flat, eyes looking straight ahead, and reach both arms on either side of your left foot, touching the ground with your fingertips [A].
Push off the left leg and shift your weight back into the right foot, reaching both arms up to the ceiling, while you bring your left leg across the front of your body and tap your left toes on the floor, just past your right leg [B]. That’s one rep. Complete 15 reps on each leg.
Quick Form Tip: Focus on squeezing your inner-thigh muscles and drawing your abs in tight on the crossover tap to help with balance and control.
RELATED: 5 Moves to Lift and Tone Your Rear
Runner’s Lunge to Balance
This deep lunge and balance combo will help tighten the backs of your thighs in no time.
How to do it: Start standing with your feet together. Take a big step forward with your right leg. Reaching towards your right foot with both hands and hinging slightly forward from your hips, bend both knees into a low lunge (be sure to keep your right knee lined up over your right ankle at the bottom of your lunge. Don’t let your knee extend past your toes). Your left knee should be pointed straight down to the floor (like a sprinter about to start running) [A].
Next, press your weight into your right leg and push down through your right foot as you stand up out of the lunge, lifting your left leg off the floor and straight up behind your hip. Your upper body should maintain the hinged forward position as you stand, with your back straight, abs tight [B]. Balance for one count and then lower back down into the lunge. If it’s too hard to stand on one leg, try tapping your left foot lightly on the floor behind you as you stand up out of the lunge. Repeat 15 times and then switch to the other side.
Quick Form Tip: As you stand out of the lunge position, focus on one point on the floor in front of you. This will help you balance at the top of the move.
Scissor Power Switch
This move helps burn more calories while you work the power (fast-twitch) muscle fibers in your legs—a killer combo for trimmer thighs.
How to do it: Start standing with your right foot forward, left leg back and lower into a runner’s lunge, reaching your left arm towards your right foot and extending your right arm behind you [A]. Push off the floor with both feet, jumping straight up, scissoring legs midair, and land back into a runner’s lunge with your left leg forward, right arm reaching across. If an injury prevents you from jumping, try quickly alternating your legs with a rear tap instead of the jump. Do 15 switches (or alternating rear taps) total.
Quick Form Tip: Start slow to insure proper form on your landing (always keep your knees behind your toes on the front leg of your lunge). Progress into a faster speed when you’re ready to advance.
This multi-directional lunge helps build coordination and control while also toning and tightening your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and inner thighs.
How to do it: Start standing with feet together, both arms reaching overhead, palms facing forward [A]. Take a wide step with your right foot out to the corner of the room (at a 45-degree diagonal angle), bending your right knee and reaching arms and upper body forward over your right thigh (your back leg should be straight, with your heel lifted off the floor). See if you can touch the floor, on either side of your right foot, lightly with your fingertips [B]. Push off of the right foot to return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times on one leg, 15 times on the other. Modification option: Don’t go as low into the lunge, and aim to reach your hands to knee or shin level instead.
Quick Form Tip: As you stand back out of your lunge, focus on drawing your abs in tight, squeezing your inner thighs together, and maintaining good posture.
This ballet-inspired move is a great inner- and outer-thigh toner.
How to do it: Start standing with your hands on you hips, heels pressed together and toes rotated out to the sides (about 45 degrees) [A]. Step your left foot out (wider than hip-width apart), into a deep “plie”: bend both knees out over your toes, lowering your body straight down to the floor, keeping your back straight and abs in tight [B]. Next, as you rise up out of the plie, slide your left heel back in towards your right, straightening your legs and returning to start position. Repeat 15 times with the left, 15 times with the right.
Quick Form Tip: Make sure your knees stay lined up over your toes on the plie, don’t let them roll in.
Lateral Plyo Squats
This quick plyometric interval will get your heart pumping and tone your hips, thighs, and glutes.
How to do it: Start standing with your feet together, arms down by your sides. Step your right foot out to the side (about hip-width apart) and bend your knees, holding both arms in front of body, sitting back into a squat: press your hips behind you (as if reaching back for a chair) and keep your chest lifted and eyes forward [A]. Quickly push off the floor with both feet, jumping up and to the left [B]. Land with your left foot stepping out to the side and back into your squat position. Modification option: Instead of jumping, simply stay down in your squat position and step your feet quickly from side to side to raise your heart rate without the impact. Repeat 15 times total.
Quick Form Tip: Use your arms to get your momentum going and to help you push off the ground.
Kneeling Roundhouse Kick
This kickboxing inspired move is a great way to shape and tone the outer hips and thighs.
How to do it: Start kneeling on all fours (on carpet or a mat) with your arms extended under your shoulders and knees bent under your hips. Lift your left knee off the floor, bending your left heel in closer to your body [A]. Next, lift left knee (keeping it bent) straight out to the side of your body, trying to bring it up to hip height [B].
From here, extend your leg straight out, pointing your toe, shin and shoelaces facing forward [C]. Bend knee back in and lower it down, almost to the floor (but not touching). Repeat 15 times on the left, 15 times on the right.
Quick Form Tip: Draw your abs in tight and try not to lean away from your legs as you lift it into your kick—press both arms strong into the floor, keeping hips square.
Hip Extension and Cross
Tone the backs of your thighs, glutes, and your core with this targeted isolation exercise.
How to do it: Start kneeling and bend both elbows down to the floor below your shoulders, hands clasped. Extend your left leg up and behind your body, pointing your toes as the leg extends [A]. Next, bend your left knee and draw your left leg in, lightly tapping the back of your right knee with your left kneecap [B]. Extend left leg back out and repeat 15 times total, then switch legs and repeat (if you want to really feel the burn, try doing two sets of this exercise before moving onto the next move).
Quick Form Tip: Press both arms down into the floor to avoid collapsing into your chest, and keep your abs drawn in tight so that your lower back doesn’t sag.
Plank to Stand Up
This tough move can help improve flexibility in your hamstrings and hips while also toning your core, legs, and back.
How to do it: Start at the top of a push up position, or a full plank [A]. Keeping your abs drawn in tight, step your right foot in between your hands, bending your knee so that your right thigh is parallel to the floor, keeping your back leg extended [B]. Push your weight into your right foot as you slowly stand up out of the lunge, leaning slightly forward with your upper body, and tap your left foot on the floor behind you at the top [C].
Next, bend your right knee and lunge back down to the floor, placing hands flat on either side of your right foot. Step right leg back to plank position and then repeat with the left leg. Alternate legs for 15 reps total.
Quick Form Tip: If it’s too difficult to stand up with your hands on the ground, place your hands on top of your front thigh for more support. Do the same on the way back down.
Prone Hamstring Curl
This move shapes up the hamstrings and lifts that hard-to-reach spot where the glutes and hamstrings meet.
How to do it: Lie face down on the floor, bend your elbows and stack your hands under your forehead. Extend both legs straight out behind you, pointing your toes and squeezing your heels together [A]. Press your shoulders down and lift both legs slightly off the floor. Keeping your feet touching, bend your knees (knees can open out to the sides slightly as they bend) and curl both heels in towards your body [B]. Without letting your knees touch the ground, slowly extend both legs back out straight. Repeat 15 times total (Try doing another set of 15 before finishing the workout if you can).
Quick Form Tip: Be sure to keep your kneecaps lifted off the floor during the full movement, and imagine you are pressing your heels into something as you bend your knees in, to really squeeze the backs of your thighs.