Pilates Inner Thigh Exercises that Really Work

Use Pilates Exercises and Equipment to Tone the Inner Thigh

With all of our focus on our gluteals, we sometimes forget about strengthening the next closest thing, the inner thighs. Here are some Pilates exercises and techniques that you can use to enhance the muscle strength, tone and of course, the appearance of those hard to target inner thighs.

As with all Pilates exercises, we multi-task as we go. Even though you'll be focusing on your thighs you'll still be working your abdominals, spinal muscles and more. The Pilates principles always apply.

Follow the links in the list of exercises that follow. 

Begin in the Middle

Coach helping people with Pilates exercises.
Skynesher/Vetta/Getty Images

As important as what you do is how you do it. In Pilates, there is rarely a time when your inner thighs are not engaged, because you should be working your legs equally.  In every exercise that calls for legs together, keep those inner thighs pulled toward the midline. This is an important part of Pilates exercise technique and it will serve you well as an inner thigh toner. 

Below are exercises and techniques you can use to tone your inner thighs, but ultimately it's going to be your intent to keep the inner thighs engaged throughout your workout that will pay off the most.

Work Up to Circles

Pilates with Exercise Band
One Leg Circle with Exercise Band. by Peter Kramer, courtesy of Kolesar Studios

The Single Leg Circle is a key exercise to work the upper inner thigh. 

Lie on your back with your arms down along the mat.

Extend the left leg toward the ceiling. Hold strong with your arms, abs and bottom leg. 

Inhale: Cross the leg up and over the body aiming for your opposite shoulder.

Exhale: Circle the leg down and around, out and back until it returns to the midline of the body.

Repeat 5 times one direction, 5 times the other direction, then change legs.

Please see the detailed instructions for Single Leg Circle. 

Hone in on the Target Zone

pilates exercise
Inner Thigh Lifts. by Peter Kramer, courtesy of Kolesar Studios

Lie on your right side with your body in one long line.

Slide your legs a few inches forward.
Bend the left leg so that your foot rests in front of your right thigh.
Thread your left hand through your legs and grasp your left ankle.

Inhale: Extend the lower leg long and lift it a few inches off the floor. Hold for 3 counts.

Exhale: Slowly return the leg to the floor.

Repeat 5 - 8 sets on each side

Please see the detailed instructions for inner thigh lift.

Get a Leg Up

pilates inner thigh
Pilates Mat Exercise - Side Kick Up Down. by Peter Kramer, courtesy of Kolesar Studios

Lie on your side with your body in a straight line. Support yourself with one hand on the mat.

Slide your legs out few inches in front of your hips.
Turn your top leg out slightly, rotating at the hip.

Inhale: Kick your leg up without losing the alignment of the hips.

Exhale: Slowly lower the leg with resistance. Focus on keeping the inner thigh squeezing as you lower.

Repeat 5 - 8 sets on each side

Please see the detailed instructions for side kick up/down.

Pilates Props are the Next Step

Fitness Circle
Pilates Magic Circle. STOTT PILATES photography © Merrithew Corporation

You can increase the inner thigh challenge of many exercises by squeezing a magic circle at the ankles or thighs. Continue reading for a fan favorite exercise to strengthen the inner thighs. Examples of other mat exercises you can apply this idea to are The Hundred and Double Leg Stretch.

Learn About Magic Circles

Pilates Magic Circle
Magic Circle Seated Legs. Courtesy of Peak Pilates

Sit up tall at the edge of a chair or bench with your feet flat.

Place the magic circle between your thighs with the circle lightly compressed to begin.

Inhale: Squeeze the circle and hold it for 3 counts

Exhale: Slowly release the circle for 3 counts

Repeat 6 - 8 times

Please see the detailed instructions for seated legs with magic circle.

Edited by Alycea Ungaro

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