Total Gym’s 10 Essential Inner Thigh Exercises

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 12.48.16 PM

Safe and Healthy Exercises For The Thigh Gap

For the last couple of years, young women have been talking about the elusive inner thigh gap, presumably made popular because jeggings, leggings, skinny jeans, tights and bathing suits highlight the thighs.

What is the thigh gap? It’s the space between the thighs when the feet and knees are together. Predictably, most women’s thighs don’t meet the criteria, so women are on the hunt for the best way to achieve the gap.

A Word of Warning About Thigh Gap

A gap between the upper thighs is often a sign of malnutrition and emaciation, especially when coupled with a lack of muscular definition or muscle mass. Also, in photos, the gap has often been photoshopped or the model is posing to create the gap. Furthermore, some women’s pelvic anatomy naturally allows them to stand with a gap in between their thighs. Other than surgery and starvation, which are not the recommended ways to change one’s body shape, how can a normal woman achieve toned, lean legs, and feel comfortable in her clothes?

A Realistic Way To Reach The Thigh Gap Goal

The ideal goal is to create lean, sculpted legs. The inner thigh may seem like an impossible area to target, but the muscles under the subcutaneous fat can be strengthened. The inner thigh muscles include the pectineus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus and gracilis. They are used for adducting the leg (bringing it toward the midline), and stabilizing the pelvis during running and kicking, especially in single leg kicks across the body. Strong adductors are important for stabilizing the knee also, since the gracilis crosses the knee joint medially.

The best workout for the inner thighs involves standing exercises, especially on one leg, but you can also work this area while lying down. Many of the exercises you will recognize from Pilates and ballet. These movements will also engage the outer thigh muscles and glutes. Again, this is important in helping to support the hip joint and stabilize the pelvis when standing on one leg (which happens every time you run). Thus, the inner and outer thigh can be sculpted at the same time—Score!

10 Exercises For Your Thighs Only


  1. Side-lying Inner Thigh Lift:
  2. While, lying on your side with your hips stacked and your top leg bent so the knee is touching the floor in front of you, rest the bottom leg (extended) on the floor. Flex the foot at the ankle. Lift the bottom leg off the floor as high as you can 8-12 times for one set. Complete three sets.

  3. Back-lying V:
  4. Lay on your back with your legs flexed at 90-degrees at the hip and your knees straight. Dorsiflex the foot. Open the legs as far as you can then slowly bring the feet together. Complete 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

  5. Plié Squats:
  6. Stand with the feet apart, toes out, heels in and butt tucked under. Bend the knees and then straighten while squeezing the glutes and inner thighs. Can be performed in relevé (while standing on the ball of the feet, heels lifted). Complete 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

  7. Total Gym Squat Stand Cross Kicks:
  8. Keep one leg straight and bring the other leg up with the knee bent. Then extend this leg across the midline. The hips will rock side to side a bit. Similar to doing a Rockette can-can kick. Alternate legs. 8-12 reps each leg for three sets.

  9. Skater Lunge:
  10. This is a combination of a curtsey, side lunge and a side hop. Stand with the right foot behind you and slightly across the midline (in a curtsey with right hand on the floor). Bend both knees, then leap sideways, throwing the back right leg out to the side. Land with the left foot behind you and the knees bent, left hand on the floor. This is a plyometric exercise. In ballet, the glissade involves a similar movement. Instead of reps, make this a timed exercise. Start with 20 seconds.

  11. Total Gym Leg Pull Accessory Leg Circles:
  12. Using the Leg Pull accessory, attach the harness to the foot. Lie back with your head toward the column, both legs straight. Hands are by your sides. Lift the harnessed leg up and circle clockwise, crossing the midline and allowing the hip on the working leg to lift slightly off the glideboard. Complete one set of 8-10 reps, then move the leg counterclockwise.

  13. Total Gym Leg Pull accessory Side-lying Leg Pulls:
  14. Using the Leg Pull accessory, attach the harness to your right foot. Lie on your left side with your head toward the column and your hips stacked. Lift your top leg up and then pull it down and across the midline, slightly past the glideboard. Do 8-12 reps each leg. Repeat three sets.

  15. Knee Flares:
  16. Lay on your side with both knees bent and feet touching at your heels. Open and close the knees while keeping the heels together. Use resistance by placing a small ball between the knees and squeezing the ball by contracting the inner thigh muscles.

  17. Criss Cross Power Jacks:
  18. This is a high impact exercise. From standing, jump out to a plié with arms extended overhead (like a letter X). When you bring your feet back together, cross your legs at the thighs and land on the balls of the feet with the arms by your side. Concentrate on long straight legs when your feet come together.

  19. Échappée on the Total Gym Squat Stand:
  20. Lay down on the glideboard with your head toward the column. Place your feet in 5th position (left foot in front, turned out, while your right foot’s toes are turned out behind the left heel) on the squat stand with your hands by your sides. Bend your knees, then press off the squat stand forcefully and straighten the knees as you extend the legs out to the sides, like an air jumping jack. Land with the right foot in front in 5th position and knees bent in a demi plié.

How To Avoid a Groin Pull

Groin injuries occur when the adductors are overstretched while contracted. For example changing directions while running stretches the muscles while they’re strongly contracted. This is common in soccer players, tennis players, rugby players, and MMA fighters. Avoid inner thigh injuries by warming up muscles and tendons gradually using dynamic stretches like front knee lifts circling to lateral knee lifts, standing leg swing and the grape vine. At the end of your activity, cool down with static stretches like Middle splits, lateral lunges, and the butterfly stretch.

Jodai Saremi

Jodai Saremi, DPM, BS , is a freelance writer, AFAA certified trainer, and fitness model. She has written for American Fitness, SPIN fitness, Your Health Connection magazines, and other online publications. Her articles have also been featured in textbooks. She enjoys an active lifestyle and lives in Ventura County, Calif. with her husband and two children.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Please pardon the foolish question…

    I’m very proud of the results I’ve gotten from my Total Gym and would love to have the Total Gym t-shirt in the Inner Thigh video to show off how proud I am… How do I get such a shirt?

    Please advise.
    46 and thrilled with my Total Gym body

    1. Hi Diane, it looks like they took a total gym tshirt and cut it with siccors along the sleeves, neck trim and back. There are vidoes on line wth t-shirts, bathing suits and other items being ragged out. Hope this helps since I do not see a reply to your request.

    2. Hey Diane, sorry your comment must have slipped through the cracks without response.

      In short, we are working on a Total Gym “Gear” website. Stay tuned to Facebook, as this is in the works and we hope to finish very soon!

    3. Hi Diane,
      I just cut up a Total Gym shirt I had, which was made of slightly stretchy cotton jersey material and was form-fitting. You can go on You Tube and look up t-shirt cutting. It’s easy with a pair of sharp scissors. Get creative and have fun!

      1. Thanks for all the great t-shirt cutting advice….but in reality, I just want to know where to get the Total Gym logo t-shirt itself. I couldn’t find any Total Gym shirts out there any where.

        1. Diane,

          As mentioned, we are going to be coming out with a Total Gym “Gear” website. The shirts will be available for purchase on that website. Currently, there is no way to purchase them on the Internet. Stay tuned for the website launch!

Leave a Reply