I don’t rely on cardio machines for shapely, toned, and strong legs; such things are fine for sculpting, but there are too many muscles in your stems to rely only on cardio alone to get the job done. So, each day of the week I dedicate a few sets to a particular muscle group. One day might be quads, another hamstrings, perhaps calves on another day, and of course the glutes get their share of love as well.
I typically group an upper body exercise with a lower body one, because that works for me, but you can also have a dedicated “leg day”: I’ve done that plenty, but found that whenever I do it that way, my ability to walk in the days that followed made everything else I wanted to do a bit more…what’s the kindest way to say this…challenging. So, unless your leg day falls just ahead of a scheduled rest day or two—I eventually moved mine to Fridays—then plan on dealing with soreness the rest of the way, depending on the intensity of your strength training session.
That said, most people stop at the lower body groups mentioned above, and don’t even think about two of the most important of them all: the adductors (inner thigh) and abductors (outer thigh).
If your adductor and abductor muscles are strong and working at an optimal level, they play an important role in stabilizing the knees and hips, aid in good posture, and assist in the execution of the most basic, and/or advanced, lower body strength exercises.
They may look like a minor piece of the puzzle—particularly from an aesthetic standpoint—but without them, you would find it very difficult to properly execute a squat, a lunge, or a deadlift.
Here are a few of my favorite moves for hitting those muscles:
1. Sumo Squats: Great to do with or without weights. Really targets the muscles of the inner thigh.
2. Hydrant Raises: Hits the outer thigh. You can place a weighted ball, or a dumbbell, in the crook of your leg for a greater challenge.
3. Abductor using Swiss Ball: Another outer thigh exercise.
4. Inner Thigh Leg Lifts: Use ankle weights or places a weighted plate or dumbbell on the lift-leg for added resistance.
Other great moves to try: side lying leg raises, standing adductors, standing abductors, and hip bridges.