A leaner, more toned physique isn’t the only incentive for building stronger thighs. Strengthening your muscles in front (quadriceps), back (hamstrings) and in between (adductors) is key to walking and running with ease, and jumping and squatting with power. Rock solid thighs will also provide a solid foundation for movement in any plane — for everyday and athletic feats.
But if you’re tired of standard squats and lunges, stepping up to the barre can help give your lower half the TLC it needs. Becca Pace, lead trainer for Daily Burn’s Barre Harmony program, says, “Barre workouts allow the smaller muscle groups [like the inner thighs] to fire up and engage.” Barre’s signature lengthening and strengthening pulses and pliés target the thighs like no other. And we’re combining six of Pace’s favorites into one muscle-torching thigh workout. If your legs start to shake, that means your thighs are really working.
6 Barre Exercises for a 30-Minute Thigh Workout
Using a chair that’s about hip height, do 10-15 reps of each of the six moves below. Repeat for two to three rounds. “Higher reps of more intricate exercises tests muscle endurance and builds strength and flexibility without putting pressure on the joints,” Pace explains.
1. Second Position Plié with Relevé
For this classic barre move, Pace says when you’re bending your knees in plié, press the outer edge of your feet down and pull your knees back to prevent them from falling in.
How to: Stand behind a chair with your feet in second position (feet slightly wider than hips-width with your toes turned out at 45 degrees), hands resting lightly on top of the chair. Roll your shoulders back and tilt your pelvis forward so your hips are in a neutral position (a). Sit into a grand plié squat with your hips in line with your knees, and then lift your heels off the ground in relevé (b). Squeezing your glutes, bring your heels back down to the ground and do a demi-plié before standing back up (c). This is one rep.
2. Reverse Lunge to Passé Combo
This lunge combo tests your hip mobility and balance. “When you’re going to passé, press firmly on your front foot and push off the ball of the back foot to bring your toes to the inner knee of the front leg,” she says.
How to: Stand parallel to a chair on your right side with your feet in first position (heels together and toes turned out to 45 degrees) (a). Take a step back with your left foot and sink into a reverse lunge. Then, bring your left foot back to first position (b). With your left foot pointed, tap it to your left side and then come up to relevé on both feet. Lift your left knee bent out to the side, and with your left toes pointed, touch your right knee in a passé position (c). This is one rep. Do 10-15 reps before switching sides.
3. Curtsy Lunge Pulse
Be sure to evenly distribute weight in each foot when you’re in a curtsy lunge. “Aim both hips forward like headlights and wrap inner thighs toward one another, like magnets,” Pace says.
How to: Stand behind a chair with your feet hip-width apart, hands lightly resting on top of the chair (a). Step your left foot behind you to your right side and lower your body into a demi-plié (half-squat) (b). Lift your arms up overhead in third position and pulse your legs for 10-15 reps before switching sides (c).
4. Tuck in Demi-Plié with Relevé
Imagine leaning your back against a wall when you’re positioning your body for this move. Your back should remain in neutral throughout the entire movement. Pace says to pull your belly button up toward your ribs to activate your core.
How to: Stand behind a chair with your feet hip-width apart. Place a rolled up towel between your thighs, just above your knees, and squeeze them together tightly (a). Engaging your abs, tilt your pelvis slightly forward with your tailbone pointed down. Bring your heels up up to relevé (b). Squeezing your thighs and glutes, demi-plié up and down for 10-15 reps before lowering your feet back down to the ground (c).
5. Inner Thigh Lift
As you lift your bottom leg, be sure not to shift your hips forward or back, and keep your core activated as you lower it back down, Pace says.
How to: Lie on your right side on a mat with your left leg stacked over your right leg. Cross your left leg over your right, planting your left foot firmly on the floor on your side and lying your head down on your right arm (a). Keeping your right foot pointed, lift your right leg off the ground and then bring it back down. This is one rep. You should start to feel the burn in your right inner thigh (b). Do 10-15 reps before switching sides (c).
While this exercise is meant to work your thighs, your obliques will get some lovin’, too, in order to keep your hips square. “Try to avoid the hips lifting and dipping, but instead, continue to point them down,” Pace says.
How to: Get in a tabletop position with your hands right under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Bring your right leg out to the side with your knee straight (a). Keeping your hips square and engaging your abs, sweep your right leg up and over to the left side, so you create a rainbow with your leg. Bring your right leg back to the starting position. This is one rep (b). Do 10-15 reps and then switch sides.
Want more moves that tone up fast? Sign up for the Daily Burn Barre Harmony program today for your free trial!
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