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Outer Thigh Muscle Anatomy: 6 Best Exercises to Target Your Outer Thighs


Outer Thigh Muscle Anatomy: 6 Best Exercises to Target Your Outer Thighs
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When it comes to leg workouts, most people tend to focus on their quads and hamstrings while neglecting their outer thighs. However, working on your outer thighs can improve the appearance of your legs and enhance their functionality.

The outer thigh muscles, also known as the abductor's muscles, are responsible for the movement of the legs away from the body's midline. Strengthening these muscles can improve your hip stability and mobility, benefiting various activities such as running, jumping, and even walking.

To effectively target your outer thighs, it's essential to understand the anatomy of these muscles. You can achieve toned and defined outer thighs by focusing on exercises that target these muscles.

In this article, we'll be discussing the six best exercises that target your outer thigh muscles. These exercises are designed to strengthen your abductor's muscles and improve their functionality, allowing you to achieve your fitness goals while keeping your legs healthy and strong.

So, whether you're an athlete looking to enhance your performance or improve your leg appearance, these exercises are for you.

Outer Thigh Muscle Anatomy

Outer Thigh Muscle Anatomy

The outer thigh muscles can be challenging to target as they are not as visible as other muscle groups and require specific exercises to isolate them effectively. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the anatomy of these muscles and how they function to select the most appropriate exercises to strengthen them.

The outer thigh muscles, also known as the abductor's muscles, consist of the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae muscles. These muscles are responsible for moving the leg away from the body's midline and stabilizing the pelvis during movement.

The gluteus medius muscle is the largest of the three muscles and runs along the upper part of the hip. The muscle originates from the outer surface of the ilium and inserts into the greater trochanter of the femur. It helps to stabilize the pelvis during walking, running, and other lower-body exercises.

The gluteus minimus muscle is located underneath the gluteus medius muscle and has a similar function. It also originates from the outer surface of the ilium and inserts into the greater trochanter of the femur. It works in tandem with the gluteus medius muscle to help stabilize the pelvis and support the leg during movement.

The tensor fasciae latae muscle is located at the front of the hip and runs down the outer thigh. It originates from the iliac crest and inserts into the iliotibial band, a thick band of connective tissue that runs down the outer thigh and attaches to the shinbone. The tensor fasciae latae muscle helps to flex the hip and rotate the thigh outward.

Understanding these muscles' anatomy is crucial in effectively targeting them through exercise.

How to Build Your Outer Thigh Muscles

How to Build Your Outer Thigh Muscles

So, how can you build and shape thigh muscles? Well, to gain muscle, you need strength training and healthy eating. However, if you are thinking of simply just trying to decrease fat in that area, you may not get you the toned appearance you're looking for. Why? Because you need to build muscle mass as well.

Building muscle mass in your thighs is nothing different than building muscle in other body parts. The key is strength training and keeping track of your food intake. Hopefully, by this point, you've concluded that there is no quick fix and that real progress comes from slow, steady improvement.

Besides resistance training, you'll need to do the right exercises, eat more calories than you burn, and monitor your macronutrient intake.

Protein is the primary macronutrient that helps people grow muscle. A higher protein diet will result in noticeably better weight loss and muscle gain than one lower protein consumption. For protein intake, aim for 0.8-1 grams of protein per pound of body weight every day to gain muscle, and pay attention to how your body reacts. DMoose Whey Protein Powder is a high-quality protein supplement that can help you meet your daily protein requirements, which are essential for muscle growth and repair.

You can also prioritize moving your body and including compound movements like squats, deadlifts, and lunges when exercising. Include a few accessory lifts to isolate your smaller muscles and enhance your range of motion. Aim for 2-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions for each exercise. Do compound exercises initially while you are rested and have enough energy. And remember, progressive overload is the key!

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6 Best Exercises to Target Your Outer Thighs

6 Best Exercises to Target Your Outer Thighs

Most of us want to improve the appearance of our thighs. Whether it's the inner thigh, outer thigh, or both, we'd love to tighten and tone this region. Though they may be difficult to target, some exercises can help you achieve firmer, more toned outer thighs.

1. Goblet Squats

1. Globlet Squats

Goblet squats are an excellent exercise to target the outer thigh muscles. This exercise involves holding a weight, usually a kettlebell or dumbbell, close to your chest and performing a squatting motion. Goblet squats engage the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, but they also specifically target the abductor muscles of the outer thighs.

The abductor muscles must contract to keep the knees from caving inwards when performing a goblet squat. This motion helps tone and strengthen the outer thighs, improving overall lower body strength and stability.

Goblet squats can also help to improve hip mobility and reduce the risk of injury during other exercises or daily activities that involve squatting or lunging motions.

How to:

  • Pick a dumbbell and hold it close to your chest. Place a hand on each side of the dumbbell's edge.
  • Slightly flex your knees, then push your hips back to squat.
  • Lower your thighs parallel to the floor. Push back through the heels of your feet while maintaining a tight core throughout the exercise.
  • Repeat as many times as desired.

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2. Curtsy Lunge

2. Curtsy Lunge

The curtsy lunge is a lunge variation that works as a single-leg workout. It will offer the most effective technique to target your outer thighs by working and increasing hip stability to facilitate better movement in your body.

This exercise is similar to a regular lunge, but instead of stepping forward, you step diagonally backward, crossing one leg behind the other. This movement targets the outer thigh muscles and the glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

How to:

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart and start diagonally extending your right leg and right foot back.
  • You should be in a single-leg squat as you reach back and your back leg should be extended diagonally keeping your right knee elevated off the floor.
  • As you descend to your deepest controllable depth, keep your body standing straight.
  • Keep your hips tucked in when you rise and repeat on the other side as desired.
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3. Single-Leg Lateral Lunge

3. Single-Leg Lateral Lunge

The single-leg lateral lunge is a highly effective exercise for targeting the outer thigh muscles. This is because the movement involves a side-to-side motion that targets the muscles outside the leg, including the gluteus medius, tensor fasciae latae, and vastus lateralis. The exercise also engages the hip adductors and abductors, which help to stabilize the hips and strengthen the lower body.

Moreover, the single-leg lateral lunge is a compound exercise that works for multiple muscle groups simultaneously, making it an efficient way to build strength and muscle mass in the lower body. It can be performed with body weight alone or dumbbells to increase the challenge and provide additional benefits.

How to:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and keep your hands on your hips.
  • Step out to the side while raising your right foot off the floor.
  • Maintain a lunge position while bending your right knee to 90 degrees and keeping your left leg straight.
  • Repeat on the other side, then go back to your starting position.

4. Clamshell

4. Clamshell

Clamshell is a simple yet effective exercise that can help build your outer thighs. This exercise primarily targets your gluteus medius, the muscle responsible for stabilizing your pelvis and helping with lateral movements. The clamshell exercise involves lying on your side with your knees bent and then opening and closing your legs like a clamshell.

How to:

  • Lay on one side, keeping your legs stacked on top of one another to start. Optionally, you can wrap a resistance band over your thighs for more of a challenge.
  • Lift your right knee slowly while maintaining the joint in your feet. Hold for a short while before re-lowering your leg gradually.
  • Perform 10 to 15 reps on each side.

5. Glute Bridge

5. Glute Bridge

As you would have imagined, the glutes benefit greatly from glute bridges, and the hip abduction added after the motion is fantastic for elevating your butt and shaping your outer thighs. You can add more challenges to this using a resistance band.

How to:

  • Keep your feet flat on the ground, about hip-width apart, and your knees bent. Put your hands down on the floor next to you.
  • Raise your hips off the floor and tighten your hamstrings and glutes,
  • Hold briefly, then gradually return to the beginning position by lowering your hips.
  • Complete three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions, then add more as necessary.
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6. Romanian Deadlift

6. Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift is a crucial hamstring and glute exercise that helps lift the appearance and shape as it strikes the area where the high hamstring inserts into the glutes. It is essential for strengthening the lower back as well.

How to:

  • Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart, with the barbell on the floor in front of you. Position the barbell so that it is aligned with the middle of your feet.
  • Bend your knees and hinge at your hips to lower your torso and grip the barbell with an overhand grip. Your palms should be facing down.
  • With a straight back and engaged core, lift the barbell by driving through your heels and extending your hips and knees simultaneously.
  • As you stand up, maintain a slight bend in your knees and focus on driving your hips forward. Your shoulders should be pulled back, and your chest lifted.
  • Begin the descent by hinging at your hips, pushing your glutes back, and allowing the barbell to lower towards the floor.
  • Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.


1. What exercise builds the outer thigh?

Some possible options for working the outer thigh include lunges, side leg lifts, and squats. Additionally, plyometric exercises like jumping squats can help strengthen and tone the outer thigh muscles.

To increase the intensity and effectiveness of your workout, consider incorporating some weighted ankle or wrist weights into your routine. Finally, include a good stretching routine before and after your workout sessions to avoid injury and maximize flexibility.

2. How do you target the outer quad?

You can target the outer quad through various techniques, including specific exercises that focus on strengthening the hips and lower body muscles, engaging in cardiovascular exercise that engages the entire body, and following a balanced diet that provides all the nutrients required for optimal muscular development.

3. Do squats work the outer thigh?

Squats primarily target the muscles of the lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. While squats engage the muscles on the front, back, and sides of the thighs, they primarily work the inner and outer portions of the quadriceps (front of the thighs) rather than specifically targeting the outer thighs.

To specifically target the outer thighs, you can incorporate exercises that focus on the hip abductors. These exercises may include side-lying leg lifts, lateral lunges, or exercises with resistance bands specifically targeting the outer thigh area.

4. How do you build upper outer thigh muscles?

To build the upper outer thigh muscles, focus on exercises that target the hip abductors, like clamshells. Start with lighter resistance or bodyweight and gradually increase the challenge as you get stronger. Combine these exercises with overall lower body strength training for a balanced workout. Consult with a fitness professional for guidance tailored to your needs

The Bottom Line

There's no doubt about it thighs are important. They provide us with a way to move our legs and get around. They also help support our upper bodies and allow us to sit, stand, and walk upright. And, of course, they look pretty darn good in a pair of jeans.

But how do you target the outer thigh muscles? You can try different exercises, including goblet squat, Romanian deadlift, curtsy lunges, lateral lunges, clamshell, and glute bridge. They'll help you get those thighs you've always dreamed of.

As always, consult a professional before starting any new exercise regimen, and good luck!

Article Sources

  • Campbell, Bill I., et al. "Effects of High Versus Low Protein Intake on Body Composition and Maximal Strength in Aspiring Female Physique Athletes Engaging in an 8-Week Resistance Training Program." International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, vol. 28, no. 6, Nov. 2018, pp. 580-85. PubMed,
  • Miles, D. S. "Weight Control and Exercise." Clinics in Sports Medicine, vol. 10, no. 1, Jan. 1991, pp. 157-69.

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