Leg Scissor Exercises for Inner and Outer Thighs

Woman working out in gym

Inner thigh flab, the infamous "saddlebags," the elusive thigh gap — almost every woman can come up with some complaint about her inner or outer thighs.

A consistent cardio routine and exercises like squats and lunges will do a world of good when it comes to getting tight, toned thighs. But sometimes you need a little extra TLC for those problem areas, and leg scissor exercises can help.

1. Side-Lying Abductor Scissor

Tame those saddlebags with this move that targets the abductor muscles on the outside of the thighs.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your right side on an exercise mat. Prop yourself up on your elbow. Straighten both legs, or bend the bottom knee and keep the top leg straight for a little added stability. Ensure your hips and shoulders are stacked on top of each other. Lift your top leg up as high as it will go, then bring it back down. Repeat, then switch sides.

Add weight by strapping on an ankle weight or wrapping an exercises mini-band around your thighs just above your knee, or around your shins.

Try these variations to spice things up:

  • Do side-lying scissors with your foot externally rotated (pointing up toward the ceiling) or internally rotated (pointing down toward the floor). 
  • Instead of moving vertically, extend your top leg out in front of you, then make a big arc bringing your leg up and over and tapping your toe behind you. 

3. Side-Lying Adductor Scissor

Basically the same exercise as the abductor scissors but in reverse, this version targets the adductor muscles of the inner thighs. It's harder than you think!

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your right side and rest your right ear on your right upper arm. Bend your left knee and place the left foot on the floor behind your right leg. Keep your shoulders and hips stacked and your right (bottom) leg straight. Using the adductor muscles of the inner thigh, lift your lower leg up as high as you can, then lower it back down. Repeat, then switch sides.

4. Criss-Cross

Target your inner and outer thighs with this scissor variation that also gives your abs a great workout. Bonus!

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on the floor on your back with your arms extended alongside you, palms facing down. Contract your abs and press your lower back into the floor. Lift your legs off the floor and extend them straight out.

Open your legs out to the side, then bring them toward each other crossing your right leg over your left leg. Open your legs out to the side, then bring them together again, this time crossing your left leg over your right leg. Repeat, alternating the cross of your legs each time.

If your back hurts or your lower back comes off the floor, place your hands palms down underneath your buttocks for support. The higher your legs are, the easier the move; the lower they are the more challenging.

5. Up and Over

This more advanced scissor variation targets the outer thighs and challenges your balance, big time. You'll need a cone, chair or other narrow object to use as a guide.

HOW TO DO IT: Position your guide object to your right side a couple feet away. Extend your right leg out to the side, in front of the object. Lift the leg up and over the object, hovering your foot above the ground on the other side. Then, bring the foot back up and over hovering the foot on the front side. Repeat, then switch legs.