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Bodyweight exercises can be great up to a certain point. Likely soon you need equipment to keep gaining a lot of thigh muscle.
The way you build muscle in places like your thighs is by straining and damaging your muscles. This may seem counterintuitive but this makes it so your body starts processes to repair them and build a little extra to be better prepared for similar efforts in the future.
Generally the more weight you have to move, the easier it becomes to strain your muscles enough for muscle growth in a short amount of time.
Initially, bodyweight exercises like lunges may be enough to build quadriceps muscles. However, at some point, you likely need to do thigh exercises with equipment to keep seeing a lot of muscle gain.
Your inner and outer thighs and hamstrings are generally hard to work out without equipment. To keep your leg muscles balance you do want to train these other thigh muscles.
In short, you will likely benefit from implementing some of the equipment on this list in your thigh workouts. Keep in mind that even though there are upsides, your injury risk is generally also higher when you do exercises with more weight/resistance. You may want to talk to your primary care provider before starting a new workout routine.
Thigh workout equipment at home
Most people know that you can build muscle at the gym. Luckily you don’t need the full setup of an entire gym to get in a good thigh workout. One or two relatively inexpensive pieces of fitness equipment are often enough to train your thigh muscles at home.
Resistance bands are an inexpensive type of fitness equipment that are basically elastic cords. This piece of exercise equipment is one of the top options for training your thighs. There are plenty of resistance band thigh exercises.
Some of the benefits of resistance bands are that they are relatively inexpensive, easy to store, and very portable. They can also be used in other exercises to train your arms, abs, back, and chest muscles.
One downside is that resistance bands are not the type of gym equipment you can use for the rest of your life. At least every few years you will need to replace the last set with new resistance bands.
Some exercises will also require you to anchor your resistance bands somewhere. Sometimes you can attach them to objects that are already around the house. Even so, it is likely safer to get an inexpensive resistance band anchor to avoid any problems.
Ankle weights are simply straps with some extra weight that are attached to your ankles. They can be used in many thigh exercises to add some extra resistance to your training. Similar to the previous options this can lead to more calorie burning, more muscle gain, and a more time-efficient workout.
Just like resistance bands, ankle weights are relatively inexpensive, easy to store, and very portable. Often you can also use them as wrist weights. This opens up the possibility of making a variety of upper body exercises more challenging too.
Ankle weights are unique in that your feet usually can’t carry any dumbbells or kettlebells. For some exercises, for example adductor raises, ankle weights or resistance bands are the only ways to add extra resistance in a safe way.
One potential downside of ankle weights, even the best models, is that they generally only come in light weights compared to some of the other options on this list. Whether or not this is a disadvantage depends on the thigh workouts you choose and your personal capabilities.
The thigh toner is basically a big spring with soft pads. You can place the thigh toner between your thighs and squeeze them together. This is called hip adduction and it is the main thigh exercise to do with the thigh toner. This movement engages your inner thigh muscles.
The thigh toner is again a relatively inexpensive, easy to store, and portable piece of home fitness equipment. Besides between your thighs you can also use the thigh toner in places like your arms for example to do bicep curls.
One downside is that you likely have to hold the thigh toner while using it. It doesn’t strap onto your body like the ankle weights. Another downside is that you can’t adjust the resistance setting. A thigh toner can definitely work but as your thigh muscles get stronger, the thigh toner may become too easy to keep using.
Free weights are heavy pieces of fitness equipment that are not attached anywhere. Some examples of free weights are a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates, certain exercise sandbags, wrist weights, etc.
When it comes to thigh exercises, these types of weights are mainly helpful for training your quadriceps. There are a few exercises like the Nordic hamstring curl with a barbell and fire hydrants with a free weight clamped between your legs for your outer thigh muscles.
That being said for hamstrings, inner thighs, and outer thighs you likely want to consider the other types of equipment on this list.
One of the benefits of free weights is that you can use them in a wide variety of exercises for many body parts. Besides that, they generally last an extremely long time. One dumbbell can potentially improve your workouts for many years and potentially even decades.
On top of that, many free weights do not really lose their value. This means that if you decide to stop using dumbbells or other free weights you can likely sell them for a very similar price as what you put into them.
The disadvantage is that free weights often require a slightly bigger investment compared to more short-term fitness equipment like resistance bands. That being said, they are still relatively low in price compared to for example an exercise bike.
For more balance-focused thigh exercises like lunges and step-ups you generally want to stick to one-handed free weights. This way you can still use your arms for balance. On the other hand, for a back squat, a barbell is often the preferred piece of fitness equipment.
A plyo box, also known as a jump box or step box, is simply a box that is strong enough to deal with jump exercises. The way you train influences what fitness component you mostly train. Jump exercises focus on training thigh muscle power.
You can however also use a plyo box for a wide variety of other exercises, often ones that engage your front thigh (quadriceps) muscles. In theory, you could also use a plyo box to do some type of hamstring curl.
Some benefits of a ply box are that it allows you to do some unique exercises that would not be an option without it. It is also a versatile and durable piece of fitness equipment.
One downside is that a plyo box requires a relatively high amount of storage room compared to some of the other options on this list. Quality plyo boxes also require a slightly higher initial investment.
A stepper is a piece of fitness equipment that is an elongated platform that is slightly elevated. It is mainly used for a type of workout called step aerobics but you can also do other exercises with the stepper that are more focused on training your thigh muscles, mostly quadriceps.
A benefit of steppers is that they often come with an adjustable height. They also require a lower investment for enabling you to do step-up exercises compared to plyo boxes.
One downside is that steppers are generally less sturdy than plyo boxes. If you stick to regular step aerobics exercises and put the stepper under pressure in the recommended range this should not be an issue.
Fitness sliders are small patches of fabric that easily slide on the floor. The main part of your thigh you can train with fitness sliders is your hamstrings.
Lie down on your back on the floor with a fitness slider under each of your heels. After that bring your heels to your body until your lower legs point straight up. Keep your body straight from your knees to your shoulders during the exercise.
One of the benefits of fitness sliders is that they are extremely inexpensive. You can also use them for other exercises, mainly core workouts.
The downside is that they are only mainly useful for your hamstring thigh muscles. And even for this exercise, other equipment options may offer more effective alternatives.
Gym or home gym thigh equipment
It is also possible to use gym machines for thigh muscle workouts. Below you can find a short description of some of these machines.
- Hamstring curl machine: A machine that allows you to fold your legs at the knees against resistance. This movement trains your hamstrings which are your back thigh muscles.
- Inner-outer thigh machine: A machine where you can close or open your legs against resistance. This trains your inner and outer thigh muscles.
- Leg extension machine: This next option is the opposite of the hamstring curl. You extend your legs against resistance. This trains your front thigh (quadriceps) muscles.
- Cable machine: A versatile machine with cables and pulleys that can be used to work out a variety of muscles, including the front, back, and sides of your thighs.
- Smith machine: A machine where a barbell is attached to a rail system. This makes it so you have to implement less balancing during your exercises. This machine will mainly be useful for quadriceps and hamstring exercises.
Most of these machines (except the cable machine) make it so the movement of your thigh exercise is fixed. In turn, this leads to more focus on your thigh muscles alone and less on other balance muscles. For some parts of your thighs, it is also just challenging to train them without machines.