In case the dwindling daylight and holiday products popping up in stores everywhere haven’t been obvious enough, let us remind you ... winter is coming. This year in particular is poised to be an icy, snowy mess, according to the trusty old Farmers’ Almanac, which means more than the temps will be falling.
But there are ways you can get ready to ride out the ice-covered terrain and keep your balance (and your pride)—it all hinges on your inner thigh strength.
While many leg exercises often focus on the other major muscle groups of the legs, such as the hamstrings and glutes, it’s important to not let your inner thigh muscles (known as the adductors and abductors) get lazy. Here are four targeted moves, put together by certified health coach and nutritionist Michelle Pellizzon, to give these muscles a wakeup call—and help improve your posture and prevent knee and ankle injuries in the process.
This short workout boosts your inner core strength, too—which is important any time of year for overall fitness. Press play and follow along!
Tap down squat jumps
Do: 20 reps, alternating between tapping down your right hand, then left
With your feet as wide as your shoulders, drop your hips into a deep squat position and tap your right hand to the ground. Jump both feet back to the center, and then repeat the same squat jump, this time tapping down with the left hand. Maintain a straight, strong spine as you do this—your hips should always be lower than your shoulders to really make this effective. You’ll definitely feel your heart rate come up as you get through this, but keep pushing through!
Side lunges with a lift
Do: 20 reps on each leg
Ready for more burn? Start by standing straight up with both of your arms in held in a boxer pose in front of you. Beginning with your right leg, move into a deep lunge on your right side, angling your foot about 45 degrees out and making sure your knee does not pass your foot as you position yourself in the lunge. Return to center and resume an upright position. Then, keeping your right leg perfectly straight, lift it upward until it’s almost 90 degrees with your spine and again return to center.
Sumo squat with heel lifts
Do: 20 reps—1 rep is equal to lifting the right heel and then the left heel
Now let’s kick it up a notch—you’re almost done. Step your feet a little wider than your shoulders, pointing your toes at about a 40-degree angle to the side. Sit really low in a “sumo” squat: your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle, with the ankles tracking directly under the knees. OK, now hold it here, maintaining that low squat, and alternate lifting your heels as high as you can. Try your best not to move any other part of your body—it’s just the heels that are moving here.
All-fours lunge and kick
Do: 20 reps on each side
The finish line is in sight. For this one you’ll be kneeling on the floor, on all fours. After getting into position, pull your thighs in close to your torso and prop the rest of your body up with your arms locked straight and your palms flat on the floor (as if you were going to do a push-up). Starting with your right leg, do a deep-angled lunge on the same side, making sure your foot matches up with your right hand. Then, pull your leg back, but instead of returning to center, kick your leg above and out, so it’s in line with your left leg still resting on the floor. Keep your knee slightly bent and your foot flexed inward for a deep stretch. Also keep your torso in the same position throughout this exercise so your legs really feel the burn. Return to the side lunge and repeat the sequence.