What are the Different Types of Thigh Exercises?

D. Messmer

There are a number of different thigh exercises that will help an athlete build the thigh muscles. The thigh exercises that will provide the best results are the compound exercises that work all of the thigh muscles simultaneously. Most of these types of exercises fall into a few broad categories: squats, lunges and deadlifts. Though there are many variations of each of these types of thigh exercises, the basic motions are very similar and will provide similar benefits.

Jogging can help build thigh muscles.
Jogging can help build thigh muscles.

Of all the types of thigh exercises the lunges are one of the most popular because it is possible to perform them without any equipment. These exercises consist of an athlete first standing straight with the feet shoulder width apart. Then, the athlete takes a big step forward with one foot before bending the knees to lower the upper body toward the floor. The athlete then repeats the process with the other leg.

Performing squats can help strengthen the thighs and other muscles of the legs and lower back.
Performing squats can help strengthen the thighs and other muscles of the legs and lower back.

This basic motion allows for several variations, including walking lunges, reverse lunges and side lunges. An athlete also can hold weights in order to increase the intensity of lunges. In addition to providing a good workout for the thighs, lunges also work the hamstrings and hips and can improve lower body flexibility.

Squats and lunges can be done with the addition of a barbell.
Squats and lunges can be done with the addition of a barbell.

Squats are another popular form of thigh exercise. These exercises usually require the athlete to support some amount of weight on the shoulders or in the hands. Then, from a standing position, the athlete bends the knees and drops the hips while keeping the upper body relatively straight. The athlete then uses the legs to return to the standing position.

Thigh exercises that isolate specific muscles of the thighs tend not to be as effective as compound exercises.
Thigh exercises that isolate specific muscles of the thighs tend not to be as effective as compound exercises.

Like the lunges, there are many different variations of squats. Though the basic motion remains the same, an athlete can target the muscles in different ways by making small changes to the exercise. For instance, an athlete using a barbell might hold the weight on the shoulders or on the upper part of the chest.

Leg extension machines allow users to exercise their quadriceps, or thigh muscles.
Leg extension machines allow users to exercise their quadriceps, or thigh muscles.

Deadlifts are also an effective form of thigh exercises. These exercises require an athlete to bend the knees and drop the hips until the upper body is low enough to grip the weight. Then, the athlete straightens the legs and back in order to come to a standing position. These lifts are similar to squats except that the weight starts on the floor and remains in the hands at about hip level, which changes the leverage of the lift and thus its impact on the thighs.

These thigh exercises are some of the most effective ways to work the thigh muscles because they are compound lifts. There are many thigh exercises, especially thigh exercises for women, that isolate either the inner or outer thighs. These exercises do not increase overall metabolism, so they will do little to tone the thighs and, because they target specific muscles in the area that the athlete is working, those muscles will grow and actually make the area larger rather than slimmer. Compound exercises, though, will increase the overall metabolism and thus burn more fat while also providing a complete lower body workout.

Lunges are an excellent way to tone not only the thigh muscles but also the three gluteus muscles.
Lunges are an excellent way to tone not only the thigh muscles but also the three gluteus muscles.

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