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Your inner thigh include a set of three muscles known collectively as the hip adductors: the adductor brevis, adductor longus and adductor magnus. These muscles, plus the small pectineus and gracilis (also located in your inner thigh) are responsible for bringing your thighs together--a motion known as hip adduction. The most effective exercises for this area will feature some form of hip adduction against your own body weight or additional resistance.
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Many inner thigh exercises promise to spot reduce your thighs, or burn fat from only that area of your body. Unfortunately, spot reduction is a myth. But if you do regular cardiovascular exercise you'll lose fat all over your body, including your inner thighs. What these exercises can do for you is strengthen your muscles, improve body mechanics and creating a sleek, muscular shape that is revealed as you lose any lingering excess body fat.
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Hip adduction is the simplest of the three because pure hip adduction--bringing your thighs together--is the only movement going on. You can do this exercise while seated, standing or lying on your side with several types of workout equipment. Your options include:
Lying Hip Adduction With Ankle Weights: You'll find this classic in the "floor work" section of almost all early workout videos. Lie on your side with an ankle weight around your lower ankle. Bend your upper knee and let it slide forward out of the way, then lift your lower leg against the weight's resistance. Remember to roll over and do a full set on the other side, too.
Seated Hip Adduction Machine: This gym machine has a padded seat, a rudimentary framework to support your feet and knees, and a pad that rests against each inner thigh. You squeeze the pads together, swinging each leg frame together against resistance from weight plates or heavy elastic bands.
Standing Pulley Adduction: You need a low pulley and ankle cuff for this exercise. Stand with your side to the pulley and buckle the cuff around your near ankle. Edge away from the pulley until you feel tension in the cable. Spread your feet slightly, then pull the cuffed leg gently across the front of your body, foot lifted only slightly off the floor. Once you've done a full set, switch the cuff to the other ankle.
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Although your inner-thigh muscles aren't the primary movers during walking lunges, they are critical for keeping your forward knee correctly positioned. To do a lunge, take a long step forward with your right foot and allow your hips to drop straight down between your feet. Let your left heel come up off the floor. Your forward knee must point the same direction as the toes of your forward foot, and your back knee should point straight down. Stop when both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Push off with your back leg to stand up, bringing your back leg forward, then step forward into a lunge leading with your left foot.
Walking lunges are a bit more challenging to do correctly, so check your form in a mirror frequently or ask a trusted friend to watch you and offer feedback.
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Some consider side lunges to be the best exercise for your thighs you cand do. Instead of stepping forward as for walking lunges, take a step out to your right. Sink down onto your right leg as if you were sitting in a chair. Your left leg should stay straight, left foot flat on the floor. Your right knee, right foot, hips and shoulders should all remain facing forward. Think of letting your weight drop down into the floor through your right heel. Then drive with your right leg and hip to return to the original standing position. As with all of these exercises, make sure you perform an equal number of repetitions on each side.
Try these exercises in combination with a cardiovascular routine and you'll be looking trimmed and toned in no time!