Effective Thigh Workouts for Seniors

The legs play an important role in many daily activities from walking and getting in a chair to supporting your body weight. Unfortunately, as you get older, you start to lose muscle and flexibility. This is why strengthening the muscles in your legs is so important. While walking is a great form of exercise, you’re going to need to do more to gain and maintain strength. This is where thigh workouts come in.

There are many muscles in your legs but today we’re going to focus on strengthening all areas of your thighs including your adductors (inner thigh), quadriceps (front of thigh), and hamstrings (back of thigh). Strengthening your thighs can help increase muscle mass, improve balance, and mobility. Here are 10 thigh workout moves for seniors!

Leg Swings

Before we dive into specific thigh exercises, it would be a good idea to start with a dynamic stretch. Unlike a static stretch, a dynamic stretch uses movement to help open and stretch your muscles. Leg swings will help warm-up your muscles and target your inner thighs, hips, and glutes.

Start by standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Next, lift your left leg off the ground and hold onto a chair for support if you need to. Put your weight on the heel of your right foot. Then, slowly swing your left leg from side to side without twisting your torso too much. Return to the starting position and then repeat with the right leg.

Leg swings

Side Lunges

If you’re looking for a good inner thigh workout, then make sure you add side lunges to your routine! In addition to your inner thighs, side lunges also help strengthen your hamstrings (back of thigh), and your quadriceps (front of thigh).

Begin by standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Next, take a wide step to the right and bend your right knee as you push your hips back. Ensure your feet stay flat on the floor during this exercise. Push off with your right leg to return to standing. Try to do 10 repetitions before switching to the left side.

Senior man doing side lunges

Lunges

These lunges are different from side lunges in that you step forward instead of to the side. This exercise is great for targeting your quadriceps and can help you achieve a stable core. Strengthening these muscles is important for daily activities such as getting in and out of a chair, lifting objects, and it can also help improve your posture too.

To get started stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your arms at your sides or on your hips. Next, step forward with one leg and slightly bend your knee. Finally, push back up and return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps per leg.

A quick tip: make sure your core is straight and not hunched or bent over. You also don’t want to bend your knee too far forward. If your knee goes past your toes you are bending too far.

Senior woman doing lunges in living room

Hip Marching

Hip marching will help strengthen not only your thighs but your hips too. It can also help strengthen your abdominal muscles if you maintain a correct seated posture throughout the exercise.

To get started, sit in a sturdy chair. Ensure your feet are flat on the floor. Next, lift your left knee as high as you can do so comfortably. Then lower the leg and alternate with the right knee. Try to alternate for up 10 repetitions per leg.

A quick tip: to make this exercise more difficult, place your hands on your thighs and resist the upward movement by pushing downward on your knees as you raise them.

Hip marching seated in a chair

Leg Raises

Leg raises can help strengthen your abdominal muscles as well as the muscles in your hip and thigh. It’s a great movement to practice to help with walking too.

Begin by lying on your back on a cushioned mat. Bend one knee and keep the other straight with your toes pointing towards the ceiling. Next, raise the leg that is straight to the level of the bent knee. Hold for a moment and then lower your leg back to the floor to that starting position. Continue for 10 repetitions and then repeat with the opposite leg.

A quick tip: to make this exercise more difficult, you can try it with an ankle weight. You can also try holding the raised position for up to 10-seconds at a time.

Squats

Sitting in a chair and getting in and out of a car are just a few of the activities many of us do every day. Squats can help strengthen the muscles used in these types of activities making it a great exercise for seniors to practice. Squats can help strengthen your glutes, thighs, and help improve the range of motion in your hip and knee joints.

You can perform a squat with the help of a chair, against a wall, or standing without any support. If using a chair, start in a standing position behind the chair. Hold on to the chair for support and then lower the body by bending your knees and hips until you’re almost seated and then return to the standing position.

A quick tip: once you build up strength and balance, you can try performing the squat without the help of a chair.

Seniors doing squats in the gym

Single-Leg Circle

Single leg circles can help strengthen your core as well as the quadriceps and hamstring muscles in your thigh. It also promotes a healthy hip joint which is essential for seniors. You’ll be performing this exercise lying down so make sure you use a cushioned mat, soft carpeted area, or perform the exercise lying in your bed.

Lie down with your arms by your sides and palms facing down. Next, point the toes on your right leg towards the ceiling and then rotate your leg slightly outward. begin to trace a circle on the ceiling with your whole leg while keeping your hips still and flat on the floor. Aim to make the circular motion clockwise five times and then counter-clockwise five times and then lower the leg back down. Finally, repeat with the left leg.

Single-Leg Circle

Lateral Band Walk

A lateral band walk targets the glutes and hips as well as the outer and inner thighs. To perform this exercise you’ll need a resistance band as well as balance and coordination.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place the band just above your knees. Keep a slight bend in the knees and take a step to the right and then bring the left leg in while still maintaining a hip-width distance. Take a few more steps in this direction then repeat stepping to the left.

Lateral Band Walk

Standing Knee Flexion

The standing knee flexion is a great exercise that targets your hamstring muscles. Strengthening these muscles is essential for daily activities such as walking, standing, as well as your overall balance.

Start by standing behind a chair and hold onto it for support. Bend one knee backward as high as you can and then return to the starting position. Try to complete this exercise for 10 reps and then repeat with the opposite leg. Note, make sure you stand straight and don’t bend your hips during the movement.

A quick tip: to make this exercise more challenging try holding onto the chair with one hand or don’t hold onto the chair at all. You can also add ankle weights to make the exercise even harder.

Clamshell

This exercise got its name for the way your legs and hips look while performing the movement. The clamshell exercises can help strengthen your thighs as well as your hips and glutes. It’s also known to help prevent lower back pain.

Begin by lying on your side on a cushioned mat, soft carpeted area, or in your bed. Rest your head on your lower arm and stack your legs. Bend the knees at a 45-degree angle. Next, engage your core and then raise your upper knee as high as you can without moving your hips. Also, ensure your lower leg stays on the floor and your feet are touching during the whole movement.

Hold the position for a breath and then return to the starting position. Try to repeat for 10 to 20 repetitions and then repeat on the opposite side.

Clamshell thigh exercise

Clarissa Vanner

Clarissa Vanner

Clarissa is the Junior Managing Editor of ActiveBeat. She aspires to live a healthy lifestyle by staying active and eating foods that nourish her body, but she isn't afraid to indulge in a little chocolate here and there! Clarissa loves cooking, being outdoors, and spending time with her dog. In her free time, you'll find her relaxing in her hammock or curled up on the couch reading a book.

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