8 Best Exercises to Tone and Transform Your Outer Thighs

Shayla Whitter

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So you want to know how to get rid of those saddlebags, huh? Well, you’re in luck. Outer thigh muscle anatomy is pretty simple. Three main muscles comprise the outer thigh: the gluteus medius, the gluteus maximus, and the tensor fasciae latae.

And there are a few essential exercises that target each of these muscles. So whether you’re looking to tone up your thighs or reduce pain in your hips and knees, read on for the best exercises for outer thigh muscle anatomy.

The Anatomy of Outer Thigh Muscles 

Some of the largest muscles in the body are found in the thighs. They are skeletal muscles that assist in moving different skeleton sections and are connected to bone through tendons.

Thighs have bundles of muscle fibers containing nerve and blood vessel fibers. Connective tissue holds each part of the system together. These muscles may stretch a great deal since they are incredibly elastic.

The lower body’s ability to flex, twist, and bend is due to the thigh muscles. In addition to supporting and assisting with balance, they carry most of the body’s weight and maintain hip and leg alignment.

Various thigh muscles can be categorized according to their location and function:

Adductors: The gracilis, obturator externus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, and adductor magnus are the five muscles that make up the adductors. They begin at the pelvis and extend to the femur inside the thigh (thigh bone).

Hamstrings: Three muscles, the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris make up the hamstrings. They extend from the hip to just below the knee on the back of the leg.

Pectineus: The pectineus is a flat muscle originating from the pelvis front to the top femur.

Quadriceps (Quads): The vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and rectus femoris are the four main muscles that make up the quadriceps and are situated in the front of the thigh. 

They begin at the hipbone (pelvis) and thighbone (femur), then descend to the patella (kneecap) and tibia (shin bone).

Sartorius: It is the longest and most slender muscle in the human body. Starting at the hip, it loops around the front of the thigh before descending to the knee.

8 Best Outer Thigh Exercises

Squat Side Kick

By the name, you can assume it to be a combination of both a squat and a sidekick. It is a type of martial art targeting several muscles. Squat sidekick improves your balance and body’s flexibility. 

How to do:

  • Stand in such a way that your feet and shoulders are width apart while your hands are in front for protection. 
  • Bring your knees and hips down in a squat position, keeping your back straight. 
  • Slightly shift your weight on your heels. Imagine you are half-sit (imaginary chair). 
  • As per your flexibility, keep your thighs parallel to the ground.
  • Come back to the starting position of the squat, meanwhile, shift your weight on one leg and do a sidekick from the other leg. 
  • The leg should be extended with a slight bent at your knee. At this point, you’ll feel some rotation of your hip joint. 
  • Repeat the same movement with the other leg. 

Single Leg Bridge

Single-leg bridge exercise is primarily for the lower body specifically the buttocks and hamstring. But it also focuses on your core muscles and improves overall lower body stability and strength. 

How to do:

  • Use a yoga mat or any flat surface, lie down straight. 
  • Slightly bend your knees, keeping your feet on the floor. 
  • An arm is in full extension while your palms are facing the floor. 
  • Lift one leg to the ground, at this position your knee should be at an angle of 90 degrees. 
  • Push the heel of the other floor and with the support of it lift your hips from the ground. Your shoulders and lifted knee are in a straight line. 
  • Bring down your hips on the floor slowly, rest, and then repeat the same movement with the other leg. 

Cable Lateral Leg Raise

Cable lateral leg raise is a great exercise for the outer thigh muscles. It also involves the hip and your core muscles. Mostly a cable machine is required to perform this exercise. It is a part of strength training and the machine provides resistance during the act. 

How to do:

  • Use an ankle strap and attach it to the low pulley of the machine. 
  • The other end of the ankle strap is wrapped around your ankle. Your face should be towards the machine. 
  • Bring your feet together in a standing position. You can keep your free hand at your buttock or hold some support. 
  • Keep your leg straight and lift the strapped leg on the side as high as you can. 
  • Try to involve your hip muscles to a maximum limit instead of shifting your weight to the upper body. 
  • The lifted leg onto the side will make a “T shape.” Hold your leg in this position for a while, slightly squeeze your outer tight muscles and then relax the leg. 
  • Bring the leg to the starting point and then repeat the process. 

Fire Hydrant

This form of exercise is also known as lateral leg raise or side leg lift. Fire Hydrant involves your hip and glutes muscles. For hip abductor stability, a fire hydrant is the best exercise. 

How to do:

  • Lie on a yoga mat with your hands and knees on the surface.
  • Your hands should be under your shoulder and your knees positioned under your hips.
  • Back should be straight, bend your knee at 90 degrees and lift the leg outward to the side. 
  • Make sure your tights are in line with your torso. Lift your leg parallel to the ground. Bring the leg as high as you can. 
  • It is the same as a dog lifting its leg to a fire hydrant which is why this exercise is named fire hydrant. 
  • Hold the leg up and pause for a while and then lower the leg to the starting position. 
  • Repeat the movement alternatively with both legs. 

Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift is a famous strength training exercise that targets your hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles. It greatly improves hamstring flexibility.

How to do:

  • Stand with your feet hip wide apart. Hold the dumbbells or any weight in front of your thighs with your palms facing your body.
  • Bend your knees, maintaining the arch of your lower back.
  • Start pushing back your hips keeping your back flat. 
  • Lower the weight in your thighs in a way that your hips come in a hinge position. 
  • At this point, your torso should be parallel to the ground.
  • You’ll feel pressure in your hamstring. Bring the weight to the lowest point as per your body’s flexibility. 
  • Bring the hips forward and return to the upright position. Once you are standing on your feet, push your heels down and engage your thigh muscles.
  • Get back to the starting point and repeat the movement.  

Goblet Squats

A squat variation known as the goblet squat requires you to hold a dumbbell at chest height. It works wonders on the glutes and outside of the thighs and gets your legs ready for movement in sports. 

It enables you to work all your leg muscles while lowering the chance of injury from carrying a barbell on your back.

Use a kettlebell in place of dumbbells to change things up.

How to do:

  • Hold the dumbbell close to your chest with your hands in front. 
  • The weight is held vertically in your hands as if you have a goblet in your hands. 
  • Your feet and shoulder should be wide apart while your toes are in an outward position. 
  • Engage your core muscles, keeping your shoulders and chest relaxed. 
  • Come in a squat position, most of your weight is shifted on your heels.
  • Lower down your body keeping it between your legs and thighs parallel to the ground. 
  • Your elbows should be placed inward on your knees when you have weight in your hands.
  • As you go down in a squat position, stay there for a few seconds until you are stable.
  • Involve your glutes and quadriceps as you stand back to the starting point. 

Single-Leg Lateral Lunge

This single-leg exercise is famous for working the inner thighs, and the outer thighs and glutes. A technique that strikes both the inner and outer thigh must be your favorite.

How to do:

  • Stand as your feet and hips are wide apart.
  • Raise one foot from the ground, maintaining a 90-degree angle at your knee. 
  • Shift your weight onto the leg on which you are standing, and take a lateral step. 
  • Once you take the step, bend your standing knee. 
  • Bring your hips back to a lateral lunge position.
  • The working leg should stay extended while your foot is pointing straight onto the ground. 
  • Bring your hips down, maintaining the angle of your knee. The lighted leg should stay straight. 
  • Keep your balance on the standing leg, then push your standing leg to the starting position. 
  • Repeat the same alternatively with the other leg. 


You’ll experience intense thigh burn with this glute isolation exercise. The abductors stabilize the pelvis, which are great muscles to strengthen.

How to do:

  • Place a mat, and lie on your side over it. For the support of your head, rest it on your forearm.
  • At this point, your legs are stacked over your body while your knees and hips are at a 90-degree angle. 
  • Bring your feet together, raise your top knee as high as you can, keeping your pelvis and the other leg off the ground. 
  • By now this movement is similar to the opening of clamshell. Try to keep your feet stuck to the ground throughout the exercise. 
  • Engage your hip muscles, when you are lifting your knee. 
  • Keep the lifted knee in the air for some time.
  • Lower your knee back to the starting position and repeat the movement. 

Outer Thigh Workout Plan

For stronger and toned thighs, you need to have a proper outer thigh workout plan. Perform 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps of the below-mentioned exercises thrice or four times a week for a month. You might add a weight of 5 pounds to perform these exercises. 

  • Clamshell
  • Standing Side Leg Lifts 
  • Side Lying Leg Lifts
  • Round Kick and Squat
  • Hip Extension and circles
  • Chair Pose to back lunge
  • Plie Squat with Lifted heels
  • Lateral lift

You can increase the intensity and frequency as per your suitability. After performing these exercises do stretching of light intensity to calm down your muscles. In case of any discomfort, alternate these exercises with some other resistance exercises targeting your thigh muscles. 

Related Article: How to Do the Glute Bridge for a Well-Formed Booty?


Building your outer thigh muscles requires extra effort and time. But nothing is impossible, you can meet your targeted measurements just by performing the outer thigh workout plan.

The leg workout is not the same as the outer thigh muscles workout. You need to focus more on your gluteus muscles. Try to keep your weight on the targeted areas for better results.

You won’t see immediate results, but after the consistent effort of a month or two, the results will start showing up. Stay motivated and keep working out harder.

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