If there’s one exercise at the local gym that makes you blush and avoid eye contact, it’s the hip adduction exercises. However, these machines work a very important part of your body that often goes overlooked and untouched by most other lower body workouts.
Even if there isn’t an abduction machine at your local gym (or you’d rather avoid looking down at the ground or ceiling while using the equipment), there are other hip adduction exercises you can perform, both at the gym and at home.
If you fully want to hit your lower body and improve your overall performance with any other athletic activity, you need to perform a handful of hip adduction exercises.
Hip Abduction vs Hip Adduction Exercises
You’re at the gym, and you see a hip adduction machine and a hip abduction machine. What’s the difference? Is there any? The movement is similar, but there is a difference between the two.
Basically, for one you’ll be working the interior of your thighs, and for the other you’ll work the exterior, or your hips.”
Abduction is when you begin with your legs close together. You then push the weight away from the center of your body. With hip adduction exercises, you begin with your legs far apart and you squeeze your legs towards your body (Registered Nurse, 2019).
What Parts Of The Body Are Targeted?
As the name of the exercise suggests, hip adduction exercises target your hips. But which part of your hips? As mentioned above, adduction is when you begin with your legs wider apart and you pull them together.
When you’re pulling your legs together you’re focusing on the hip muscles on the interior of your thighs (with the hip abduction you’re focusing on the muscles on the exterior of your thighs) (American Orthopedic Society For Sports Medicine, 2011).
Why Workout This Part Of The Body?
When you look at yourself in the mirror, your adduction muscles are not exactly jumping out at you. Unless you have a very low body fat percentage, you probably can’t see any outline of these muscles. These muscles are small, so why target them specifically anyway?
While yes, this isn’t exactly a muscle group that is going to turn heads, and it’s not something you’re really ever going to bulk up. But, it is a critical muscle area to target. Why? Because it will help you prevent injury.
When you see someone running and all of a sudden, they pull up limp, where do they often reach for? Their inner thigh (or outer thigh).
You might watch a baseball game and the batter is trying to run out a play at first base, but all of a sudden they just kind of stop running and start hobbling. They obviously didn’t step on someone’s foot or twist anything, so why would they come up gimp? Because their hip adduction and abduction muscles have not been trained.
Power, whether for football, basketball, or baseball (or any other sport, really), comes from the legs, so the gluteus, quads, and hamstrings are targeted. This helps with sheer power and speed, but as is often the case, it’s usually the weakest link that can cause a serious injury (Healthline, 2017).
These inner thigh injuries are often classified as groin strains. While the injuries are not centered around cartilage, it is a slender, more delicate muscle group, and if it hasn’t been trained and strengthened it can take weeks, if not months, to fully recover.
This particular article is designed specifically to focus on hip adduction exercises, all of which will help you avoid these frustrating injuries. However, you need to put in just as much work with your hip abduction exercises.
Ideally, these muscle groups on the interior of your thighs and the exterior will have similar strength. You don’t want to over develop one side and not focus on the other, as this may increase your potential for injury.
Hip Abduction and Hip Adduction Exercises
If you go to a gym that has a hip adduction machine, hop on and use it. It’s one of the easier ways to monitor strength development around your hips because you’re actually using weights.
This machine also lets you see whether your abduction or adduction muscles are stronger than the other. If one is significantly stronger you’ll know you need to focus more time on the other side.
With the hip adduction exercises you’ll adjust the knee pads outward, so your legs start spread wide. Go as far wide as you can without straining yourself.
Increasing the stretch in your legs is good here as it works the muscles more completely. Just don’t force it. And don’t be shocked if you feel your pelvic bone pop as your squeeze your knees together.
The joint here is like any other joint in your body and pockets of air bubbles can form (if you haven’t worked this area of your body before it can feel a bit strange at first, but don’t worry, if it does sound like you cracked a knuckle that’s okay).
With this muscle group you don’t need to try to overload yourself. Even if for the rest of your body you’re attempting to build strength (so lifting extremely heavy with few reps) or looking to build size (slightly lighter at 8 to 12 reps), that isn’t your goal here.
You just want to work the muscles. With the abduction/adduction machines you can shoot for 12 to 15 reps and two it twice.
Standing Resistant Band
You may know people who use a resistant band for the hip abductors. To do this you stand with the resistant band around your ankles then lift your leg outward, bring it back in, then repeat with the other side.
This is a great hip abduction exercise, but the thing about this is many people only perform the abduction resistant band exercise. Training one side and not the other is in some ways worse than not training either side. It would be like if you only focused on your bicep but your triceps never received any attention. Sure, you could pull a large amount of weight close to your body but try to let that same amount go and you’re opening yourself up to injury.
So, while the hip abduction resistant band workout is great, you also need to hit your hip adduction muscles as well. To do this, find a vertical pole or rack that is stationary. In a pinch you can use a street sign or really anything that is vertical and not going to move.
Wrap the resistant band around the vertical post and then around one leg right above the knee. Place your other leg apart and stand so the band as your knee opened up, away from your body. It should already be taught here.
Now, bring your knee into your body so your extended leg is back to the standing, neutral position. With the resistance band it will become more and more difficult as you move your leg further away from the vertical post.
When you reach the center position, hold for a moment, then slowly release back out. It is important for you to begin the exercise with the band already taught, otherwise it will fall down your leg when you open back up. Perform this move 12 to 15 times, then switch to the other leg. Do each leg twice.
There is an alternative method to performing this form of the exercise. Both use resistance bands and work in a similar way, but the position you’re in is different.
The other is you begin on your hands and knees. The band is around one knee that is extended outward and your “crunch” the knee into your body. You may feel more comfortable doing this. However, just make sure you don’t torque or arch your back in this method. You don’t want to injure your lower back.
If you’re just starting off with workout out this area of the body, or if you’re coming off a groin injury, you may not want to go directly for the weighted machine or the resistance band. In this instance you’ll want to perform the adductor squeeze exercise.
It’s an entry level exercise, but it is a good one to warm up the area of the muscles and to quickly activate the muscles (it’s also a good starting exercise if you’re beginning your lower body workout cold).
With this exercise, you’ll begin on your back and your arms down along your body. Lift your legs up so your thighs are pointed at the ceiling and the flats of your feet are pointed at the wall (almost as if you were sitting in a dinner chair and it tipped over). Now, place a ball in between your knees. A light exercise or medicine ball will work for this.
Now, squeeze your knees together and hold the squeeze for several seconds, then release. Repeat this 10 times.
Gravity Groin Exercise
Here’s another exercise to perform when you’re either first starting off or when you’re recovering from a hip, upper thigh, or groin exercise.
For this all you need is a simple chair. Start the exercise on your side, as if you’re going to do an oblique plank (although you can have your side resting completely against the floor).
Now, place the top leg onto the chair so your foot is just resting on the seat of the chair. Position the foot that is on the ground directly under the chair.
While maintaining your upper body posture while also keeping your top foot on the chair, lift your bottom foot toward the underside of the chair. Do not bend your knees when performing this exercise. It might be difficult at first, but eventually you’ll be able to touch the underside of the chair with the bottom foot. Perform this exercise 10 times, then repeat.
This is a move you can fit in at the end of your lower body workout day. You can also toss it into just about any other workout routine to gradually build strength around your hips, glutes, and the rest of your pelvic region. While you can use some handheld dumbbells if you’d like, you don’t need to.
With this squat you’ll want to begin standing in a very wide stance. Now, perform a side lunge to your right. Lower yourself all the way down so your left leg is completely extended straight out from the floor do your body and your right knee is at a 90-degree angle.
This move is going to stretch out one adductor while strengthening the other side. It’s also a great move for your booty as well. If you’re looking to tone your lower body without bulking up this is an absolute must move to perform.
Hold the squat for a moment then return to the starting position and reverse the squat to the other side. Again, you can use some lighter weights with this move, but realistically it isn’t necessary.
The stretch and crunching movement of the adductor region will be more than enough to tighten and tone this area of the body. This is also a good exercise to perform if you don’t have ton of elasticity in the lower portion of your body. You’ll begin to slowly stretch yourself out, which will help with the other adduction exercises.
Your hip abduction and adduction muscles often go overlooked. Yes, these are small muscles, but it is critical to target these muscles in order to avoid injury.
Many of the most common athletic injuries stem from not working out these small muscles around the groin and the exterior side of your butt.
You don’t need to over train these muscles, but by performing these different exercises and keeping the strength of your adduction and abduction muscles consistent with each other, you’ll avoid injuries and keep your body fully functioning, no matter what sport you play.