I don’t think too much about my body parts, but if I had to pick favorites my thighs would not be high on the list. I like parts that are small and cute like my wrists or shoulders (thank you, places that are last to gain weight). But working out my thighs has made me appreciate their strength so much. Years of dance training have given me strong quads, hips, and hamstrings that can out-lunge most athletic manly men (just ask my boyfriend). And that helps with just about everything including running around, working out, and looking–and feeling–great in a pair of shorts. These thigh slimming exercises will make you feel like a million bucks!
1. Mermaid Hip Extension
Begin in a seated position on your side, your hips, thighs, and lower legs on the ground, knees bent–like a mermaid. Engage your core, and support yourself on your arms to lift your hips off the ground (Position 1). Open your hips and lift your upper thigh up (position 2). Close back to beginning position; that’s 1 rep. Repeat 16 reps, two sets.
2. Mermaid Extension and Hold
From mermaid prep position, extend your top leg straight and hold for 30 seconds; lower your hips back down to the ground. Do 2 sets–you can also pulse your top leg (up and down few inches at the top).
3. Grapevine Lunge
Start with your hands resting on a barre or back of a chair, your weight toward your heels. Lunge your leg straight back behind you (position 1). Come up halfway to standing and cross your leg behind you in a grapevine lunge (position 2). Come back to position 1. This crossing motion should feel rhythmic like a pulse (rather than a full-motion lunge from standing, bend, standing). Do 16 reps on each side.
4. Assisted Arabesque
This is a move that works your core as much as your legs and glutes. Stand with your hands resting on the barre or chair, both feet on the ground. Engage your core and pull up your right knee while slightly bending your left (supporting) knee (position 1). Keeping your supporting knee bent, extend your right leg back straight behind you (position 2). Use your core to bring your right knee back to position 1. That’s 1 rep–do 16 reps on each side. (Really feel the back of your standing leg *and* all the length of your upper leg).
5. Standing Hip Extension
This time, start with your supporting leg slightly bent and both knees together (position 1). Open your outer hip to raise your thigh up to position 2 (you should just be pivoting from your hips, and the rest of your body should stay still). Return to position 1; that’s 1 rep. Do 16 reps, 2 sets.
6. Standing Back Extension
From the same position 1 as above, with your supporting leg bent and knees touching, extend your top leg directly behind you (below). You should be pivoting just from your pelvis with the rest of your body still. Return to position 1; that’s 1 rep. Do 16 reps, 2 sets on each side.
7. Side Battement (Outer thighs)
In ballet battements are done with feet turned out, which uses the inner thighs. By turning the feet in, bending the supporting leg, and leaning the torso toward the barre, you’re using your outer thighs, hips, and the top of your back thighs (where your legs meet your glutes).
Stand with your feet pointing straight ahead, one hand on the barre. Bend your inner leg into a plie. Tilt your torso toward the barre, reaching with your outer arm; at the same time, point your outer foot away from the barre (position 1).
With your hips squared to the front, wrap your core and swing your torso toward your outer leg. Use that force to kick your outer leg up with control, reaching for it with your arm (position 2). Return to position 1; that’s 1 rep. Do 16 reps on each side.
Don’t forget to stretch! And check out more of our leg workouts:
Intermediate Ballet Leg Workout
Yoga for Runners: 8 Deep Stretches for Long Legs
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling