Six Exercises to Tone Up Your Thighs Without Going to the Gym

thigh exercises - Mom doing a lunge stretch with a stroller

Feel like any extra weight you carry goes straight to your thighs? Join the club with millions of others! The sad truth is, we really don’t have a say in how our bodies hold and store fat. We also have little control about where in the body fat loss occurs. For example, crunches alone do not affect belly fat, and back extensions do not get rid of back fat. The best way to combat those dreaded “thunder thighs” or whatever area you’re trying to target and tone is to cut down on calories — especially those coming from processed carbohydrates — and engage in these fun, aerobic thigh exercises.


Our favorite, non-gym, thigh-firming aerobic exercises


1) Breaststroke

The breaststroke is a swimming technique that strengthens the chest, triceps, shoulders, hamstrings, and inner thighs. It burns 360 calories per hour, on average. Other strokes may burn more calories, but they are more tiring. Stick to the breaststroke to work the thighs or incorporate intervals of the breaststroke with swimming freestyle laps for a greater caloric burn.

woman doing the breaststroke in a swimming pool


2) Inline skating

Inline skating (or rollerblading) burns more calories than most aerobic activity, and firms all areas of the thighs. According to Harvard Health, the average 155-pound person uses a whopping 421 calories in just 30-minutes of fast inline skating or 386 calories every 30 minutes if you are skating casually.

thigh exercises - woman rollerblading at a city park


3) Sideways stair climbing

The stair climber machine at a gym is one of the most challenging and exhausting, which means it burns a lot of calories. However, regular stair climbing does not do much for the inner thighs. Instead of climbing stairs straight, go sideways. Turn to the right and cross your right leg in front of your left as you climb. Do both sides. Hold onto the rails and do not go too fast for safety reasons. You can also put a treadmill at an incline and walk sideways for a similar effect. 30-minutes of stair climbing will burn about 216 calories for an average-weight person.

woman stair climbing


4) Skiing

If your thighs are not burning when you ski, you are doing something wrong. The quadriceps take a lot of the stress during skiing, but the inner thighs work hard to keep you stable. The inner thighs also contract when you slow down and turn. Altogether, it’s a great thigh exercise and fantastic calorie burn at 216 calories in just 30 minutes of activity.

man skiing in the mountains


5) Lunges

Lunges work out a ton of different muscle groups in the lower body, making them the perfect exercise to tone up your thighs, hips, and glutes!  Plus, there are a variety of lunges you can do to help you change up your workout and keep it fresh. You can choose from static lunges, where all you do is drop your kneed down rather than step forward or back. Assisted lunges, which incorporate a char or a wall for balance (a good place for beginners to start!). Or, you can try out a sliding side lunge.

Sliding side lunges are probably one of the most effective thigh exercises you can do. To do a sliding side lunge, simply place your right foot on a gliding disc (or towel if you don’t have one), bend the left knee (sitting back into your heel), while you slide the right foot on the disc out to the side. Slide back up, reset, and repeat for 6-16 reps before switching to the other side. You can even add weights if you want an added challenge.

thigh exercises - woman doing side lunges


6) Tennis

Playing tennis is fantastic cardio, and all the side-to-side shuffling targets your inner thighs in a way most sports do not. Most sports involve running forward or backward with only a side step here and there. Tennis does have some forward and backward movement, but most of the action is sideways. Even when you do rush forward, it is often at a diagonal that still works the inner thighs. Singles tennis is also a great way to burn calories, burning around 252 calories in 30 minutes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also considers singles tennis a vigorous-intensity workout, compared to doubles tennis which is a moderate-intensity workout. Every minute of vigorous exercise counts for two minutes of moderate exercise. The CDC also recommends at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise.

thigh exercises - senior couple playing tennis


The fastest way to tone your thighs

After incorporating some of these thigh exercises into your workout routine, fat will start to shed and your thighs will start to tone up. It may take a while for the body to let go of the fat in the thighs though. Everything depends upon the genetic predisposition for fat storage and your diet. But even if thigh fat is not lost right away, you can quickly slim your thighs simply by firming up your muscles. This will also enhance your overall physique as fat is lost from the buttocks, belly, and back.






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