There are worse things in the world than inner-thigh jiggle, but with summer shorts season here, I can't think of one. The problem is your adductors, those oft-neglected inner thigh muscles. Leave them alone and one thigh inevitably rubs against the other. Whip them into shape and not only will you look better at the pool or on the tennis court, you'll feel more energy throughout your entire body.
The secret to success is called the Inner Thigh Squeeze, an isometric exercise that works wonders on jiggly thighs if you're willing to focus your effort and be patient - squeezing, holdwing, breathing. And yes, you can do it in front of the TV. All you need is an exercise ball: a tennis ball, a soccer ball, even one of those inflatable beach balls will work.
STEP ONE: Lie on your back on a rug or a mat, your arms resting at your sides. Engage your abs and lift your legs to an angle that is comfortable for you and your lower back. If you can get them to a 90-degree angle, go for it. A lesser angle will work, too. Now relax your body. Feel the small of your back - your sacrum - pressed into the mat. No arching. Allow your head and shoulders to rest comfortably. Listen to your breath for a few seconds until you are inspired to take the next step.
STEP TWO: Now reach for your handy exercise ball and place it between your knees. Grip it with enthusiasm. Flex your feet, your toes pointing back toward your head. Keep your head and shoulders relaxed, with no tension in your face or jaw. Tighten your quads (your front thigh muscles) and breathe into the back of your hamstrings.
STEP THREE: Focus your attention on your adductors (inner thigh muscles) and squeeze them together. The ball provides resistance. That's the challenge; that's what makes your muscles come alive. Squeeze the ball for a count of three to five seconds. Hold for another three to five seconds, really maxing it out. Then slowly release. As you squeeze, keep your hips on the mat and make sure you're not holding your breath. In fact, you should use your breath to maximize your effort, exhaling energetically as you isolate your inner thigh muscles. Be happy they're working hard.
STEP FOUR: Consider eight to 12 squeezes as a set and aim for one to three sets per session. It's fine to rest your legs between sets, but not more than 60 seconds. Do this every other day for the next month or two. Be amazed by the results.
VISUALIZE: To make this isometric exercise even more effective, as you do it, create a mental picture of your adductor muscles running up and down the inseams of your legs. Imagine that they are rivers of energy and light. The harder you squeeze, the brighter the light and the stronger the flow.
RIVER OF ENERGY? Vanity is only one reason you want tighter, stronger thighs. A much better reason has to do with your physiology. All your arterial flow - your blood and other precious fluids - moves through the inseam of your inner leg. Working your adductors this way - squeezing, energizing, releasing - and seeing them as rivers of energy will nurture your entire body. This is true no matter what you weigh or how big your thighs. The more you activate your adductors, the less likely it is that your inner groin area will collapse and soften. Neglected adductors not only lead to inner-thigh jiggle - the curse of beachers and bikers the world over - they also contribute to lower-back pain.
Big Mistakes 101: Not Eating After Workouts
It's a fitness faux pas to deprive yourself of food after a vigorous workout. Refueling is important - not a huge meal, but a small and healthy snack, such as half a bagel with peanut butter, a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts and raisins. Why is refueling so smart? It helps prevent post-exercise fatigue. Also, well-nourished muscles are less likely to be injured. If you're afraid to eat after a workout, ask yourself why. It's an unhealthy pattern, right up there with the stupidity of skipping breakfast.
Energy Express-O! The Good Sense of Starting Over
"Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you are going to do now and do it." - William Durant