Health & Fitness

For Toned Legs and Inner Thigh Sweep, Work the Quads

Q: Is there any way to target the muscle on the inner part of the thigh just above the knee? I have knobby knees and would like to add shape and definition to the area.

The muscle you’re referring to is called the vastus medialis, one of the four muscles of the quadriceps (often referred to as the “teardrop” muscle due to its tear-like shape). For years, the concept of targeting the medialis to create “inner thigh sweep” has been one of great controversy in the fitness field. Since its fibers run in an almost horizontal fashion, many have claimed that the medialis is most active during the last 15 degrees of extension. Therefore, the thinking goes, you can target the medialis by actively “squeezing” the muscle at the end of each rep. Unfortunately, EMG studies have refuted this theory, showing little if any increased activity of the medialis over the vastus lateralis (the “outer” quad muscle). The two muscles apparently provide equal force production throughout the entire movement, including at terminal extension.

Another popular theory for developing inner thigh sweep is to assume a narrow stance during compound thigh movements (such as squats, leg presses, etc.). Hypothetically, this shifts the line of force medially, forcing the vastus medialis to assume a greater share of the load. However, this also can alter proper tracking of the patella (kneecap), potentially causing injury to the soft tissue structures of the knee. Thus, even if you can bring about some increased development medialis development by implementing the technique, the cost/benefit probably isn’t worthwhile.

So, what can you do to optimally develop inner thigh sweep? Your best bet is to follow a regimented quad routine utilizing a variety of different exercises and making sure to train to momentary muscular fatigue. While this won’t target the medialis over the other quadriceps musculature, it will help to develop the muscle to its fullest potential. In short order, your medialis will develop the coveted teardrop shape and knobby knees will become a distant memory.

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