We could be in the best shape of our lives, exercising everyday and using that embarrassing adductor contraption at the gym like it’s our job — but still somehow battling with our inner thighs. The struggle is real, but the answer to the problem might actually be in yoga.
While yoga has a rep for being a stretchy and soothing exercise, some poses have also been proven to improve muscle strength, endurance and body composition as an easier and less time-consuming alternative to resistance training.
With a little creativity and a comfy mat, you can use a few non-traditional yoga exercises to do just that — target and strengthen the “hidden” thigh muscles your regular workout can’t reach.
1. Bridge lifts
Start in a reclined position on your back. Bend knees and place soles of feet on earth hip-width distance apart and as close to the sit bones as possible. Place a yoga block between thighs and squeeze consistently. Firmly press feet into the earth, inhaling extend hips up toward the sky. Keeping inner thighs pressing block, extend arms overhead until back of hands touch ground. Exhale, lower hips down and arms back by sides. There should be a natural curve in the back of the neck as the chest lift towards the chin. Repeat 20 to 30 times, firmly pressing block together with inner thighs the entire time.
This pose is a gentle way to warm up the thighs, glutes and spine.
2. Goddess pumps
From a standing position, step feet out about 31/2 feet to 4 feet apart coming into a wide-leg stance with feet parallel. Slightly pivot heels on and toes out while pressing both feet down as you lift kneecaps up, firming thighs. Inhale, reach arms overhead, then exhale releasing arms to a cactus shape with elbows in line with shoulders and lower arms parallel. Gently draw tailbone down activating your core. Keeping feet stable by pressing through big toe mound, begin to make tiny pulses with the knees. Exhaling knees in and together. Inhaling knees out and back. Repeat 20 to 30 times then release arms and heel-toe feet together coming back into a comfortable standing position.
This move will get the thighs and glutes burning and has been known to bring out the hidden goddess.
Next Up: Killer scissors
Originally published October 2013. Updated April 2017.