Your upper legs are home to some of the biggest muscles in your body. Your glutes, hamstrings and quads, in particular, all work together to build your thighs, and that's what makes your legs so strong. Once you have that in mind, you need to make sure you're putting them to work and making the most of your thigh exercises. That's where this upper leg workout comes in.

All of the muscles in your lower body will be capable of more than you give them credit for. After all, they hold up your body weight all day every day. That must be doing something, right? To get that definition you're looking for though, a little weight training with aerobic exercise never hurt, and it's the best way to get there in the least time. These thigh exercises do just that.

Toning Definition

Before this all kicks off, it's important to note something. Toning is all about burning fat and building muscle. Generally speaking, anyway. Now, this workout and the exercises in it will help you build up leg muscle and burn fat, but we need to state: targeted fat loss is a myth. You’ll burn fat from everywhere, not just your legs. The muscle growth will be in your legs, but that fat burn is everywhere. Keep that in mind.

The Exercises

So, there are seven exercises involved in your upper leg/thigh workout. They start with aerobic exercises to help burn fat most efficiently while still using large leg movements to help build a little muscle too.

From there, they go to more extensive upper leg or thigh exercises. That will help to build muscle definition more, but still burn fat in the process. The combination of all of them is what will get the best results for your legs in the least time, so they're all worth doing. Make sure you stretch well before you start though!


So, we'll start with aerobic exercises to really give the toning element to the upper leg workout. They're all awesome exercises to do for your cardiovascular health in general, but they're all leg focussed too. That means they're a great way to get warmed up and the blood pumping before the strength exercises that come after. (you get all of the cardio benefits too, win-win)


Woman doing burpees

Burpees are one of the hardest full body aerobic exercises out here. If you’re looking to burn the highest number of calories you can, this is probably the one for you. Make sure that you are bringing your knees to your elbows and jumping to a reasonable level. Pace yourself, as it is a challenge for the fittest of the fit.

Mountain climbers

Woman doing mountain climbers

Although mountain climbers are an ab exercise predominantly, they're still good cardio and great for a thigh toning workout. As you move faster and faster, more cardio is involved, so get to a good pace. Bring those knees right up to your chest to get the best quad and hamstring activation. Your whole body is involved, so make the most of your upper leg workout!

Running on the spot

Woman knee high running

Will finish off with running on the spot. Again, it’s an awesome full body aerobic exercise, but it’ll do wonders for your upper legs and thighs too with the explosive plyometric movement of bringing your knees right up.

Upper Leg Strength Exercises

Moving on to the strength exercises we need too, we have another four big hitters. They use every muscle group in your upper legs individually and collaboratively to get a great workout. Your legs won't know what hit them, and your thighs will feel the exercises in particular.


Man doing squats

Squats are famously one of the best lower body exercises there are. It uses every muscle in your legs to some extent and really helps to build those quads, hamstrings and glutes. (Making them an incredible exercise for an upper leg  workout) Make sure you're going low enough too; it's easy to skip out the bottom section. Your legs should be making an angle less than 90 degrees at your knees. Once you get there, you’re good (don’t go too low! Here’s the proper form.)


Woman doing lunges

Another great leg exercise that we can't forget about is the lunge. Lunges are great for a thigh workout in particular, hitting your quads and your hamstrings especially. That's great again for muscle growth and burning calories as you use more muscles in unison. Remember, your knees don't touch the floor, and your back foot should be parallel to the wall. (here's the proper form for lunges)

Side Lunges

Woman doing side lunges

Following the same principle but from a whole new angle, we've got side lunges. These still utilise your quads and your hamstrings, but your hips, adductors and abductors play a huge part too to get that sideways movement. It's hard to find a motion other than up and down in a leg workout, but this is the perfect example!

Glute Bridges

Woman doing glute bridges

We'll finish up with glute bridges. Your glutes are the biggest muscles in the human body by volume, and that needs to be recognised. Although they're used as supporting muscles in most of the exercises involved, you can't forget to give them the attention that they need. Glute bridges are just what the doctor ordered to finish off your upper leg workout

The Upper Leg Workout Table

So, they’re the exercises, but what’s the workout? Well, we won’t keep you in suspense any longer. After all, these leg exercises need structure if you’re going to make it through the full workout.

Exercise Round 1 Round 2
Burpees 45 seconds 45 seconds
Mountain Climbers 45 seconds 45 seconds
Running on the Spot 45 seconds 45 seconds
Squats 12x4 10x4
Lunges 12x5 10x5
Side Lunges 12x5 10x5
Glute Bridges 8x8 6x6


The upper leg, or thigh, workout goes for two rounds to make sure that your muscles are getting the most of the workout. If you want to make things harder and really skyrocket your progress, try adding extra weight to your workout and just sticking to the first round. Find what works best for you and whether you’re training at home or at the gym, with or without weights, you’ll see results.


As always with your training, your diet needs to be right for you too. For toning up, in particular, you need to make sure that you're eating correctly. You need a small calorie deficit of around 200 Kcal per day to see the best result without losing muscle too. This should come from a combination of diet and exercise. As long as you're hitting that, the progress will come! Good luck, and have fun!


If this doesn't quite quench your thirst for a thigh workout, you can always try our legs and butt kettlebell workout! Your upper legs will always thank you for more work. General Banner


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.