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Adductor exercises can target the inner thigh muscles to improve lower body stability, making it less challenging to perform such daily activities as climbing stairs or walking.
The adductors are some of the most vital muscles in your body. Their responsibility is to move the legs toward the center of the body. Any weakness in your adductor muscles can reduce athletic performance and increase the risk of injury.
Hip adductor exercises that strengthen the muscles can help improve your quality of life and make it possible to partake in many physical activities.
Unfortunately, most lifters and exercisers overlook adductor muscle exercises when planning their training regimen because the muscles are within the inner thighs, making them difficult to see with the naked eye.
Why Adductor Exercises
Adductor exercises should be a crucial part of any training regimen. Working and strengthening your adductor muscles will give you many benefits, including
- Athletes and exercisers rely on strong adductor muscles for explosive movements such as jumping, running, and side-to-side movements.
- Strengthening your adductors can help you do various exercises, including squats, lunges, deadlifts, and box jumps.
- Adductor exercises can improve hip mobility, helping to reduce the risk of injury.
Below are the best adductor exercises for targeting and strengthening your inner thigh muscles.
Hip Adduction Machine
The adduction machine is the first piece of equipment that comes to mind when planning to include adductor exercises in your training regimen.
You may need a gym membership to access an adduction machine because it is not standard home gym equipment.
Steps to follow
- Sit on the adductor machine and adjust the weight to a comfortable level
- Support your back firmly on the back pad and position your legs as wide as is comfortable behind the leg pads
- Breathe out and pull your legs together in a controlled manner until the leg pads come into contact.
- Return to your starting position slowly and under control
- Repeat 8-12 reps for a set and 2-3 sets per session
Cable Hip Adduction
A cable machine is a good alternative for those without access to an adduction machine.
A cable machine can help target your muscles from different angles for better results, making the cable hip adduction some of the best adductor exercises.
You will need a cable machine for the exercise
The cable hip adduction allows you to work each thigh independently. Thus it is one of the best hip adductor exercises for correcting imperfections, helping to build a more symmetrical lower body.
Steps to follow
- Attach an ankle strap or a handle to the low pulley on the cable machine and adjust the weight to the desired level.
- Secure the strap to the ankle closest to the cable machine.
- Stand upright with feet close together.
- Lift your working foot off the floor to activate the weight stack
- Keeping your working leg as straight as possible, move it slowly past the stationary ankle. Ensure you keep your body upright and only move at the hips.
- Pause and slowly return the leg to its starting position.
- Aim for 8-12 reps.
- Change legs and go through the movement with the other leg.
PS: you can make the exercise more challenging and increase the range of motion by standing further away from the cable machine.
The lateral lunge is one of the best adductor exercises at home for those without access to an adduction or cable machine.
Lateral lunges, aka side lunges, let you work one side of your body independently, making it possible to emphasize your weaker leg. That can allow you to build a more balanced lower body.
You can make the exercise more challenging and target the muscles much better by holding a dumbbell in each hand when doing the movement.
They are some of the best adductor strengthening exercises that enhance balance and stability in the legs. They can also help strengthen your muscles for skiing and other sports involving many lower-body movements.
Aim to complete 2–3 sets of 8–12 reps per leg for best results.
Copenhagen Hip Adduction
Copenhagen hip adduction, aka Copenhagen side plank, is one of the best bodyweight adductor exercises for isolating and working the muscles.
The exercise uses your body weight and will require your adductors and obliques to work together to help maintain your balance.
Copenhagen hip adduction is one of the best adductor strain exercises for reducing groin tightness and improving hip mobility.
The exercise allows you to work on each thigh independently, making it possible to correct weaknesses and build a symmetrical lower body.
You will need a weight bench, or similar, for the exercise.
Steps to follow
- Get into a side plank, placing your elbows beneath your shoulders and your body perpendicular to the weight bench.
- Place your top leg on the bench and bend the knee slightly.
- Stretch your bottom leg under the weight bench
- Squeeze the adductors in the top leg and lift your lower leg slowly until it makes contact with the bench.
- Squeeze your glutes and lower your body slowly to your starting position
- Repeat 8-12 reps.
- Change position and go through the movement with the other side of your body.
- Aim to complete 2–3 sets of 8–12 reps per side in a session.
Rotational Med Ball Scoop Toss
The scoop toss is one of the many rotational medicine ball throw variations for training the adductors.
They are some of the best adductor exercises for working the external and internal rotation of the hips.
Rotational Med Ball Scoop Toss can benefit athletes and sports personnel who do many rotations, change direction, or powerfully throw or hit balls. Thus it is one of the best adductor strengthening exercises for developing or improving your throwing power.
Steps to follow
- Stand about 3-4 feet away with your side to a wall, holding a medicine ball at your hit level. Hold the ball around the hip that is furthermost away from the wall. Ensure there is a soft bend in your elbows and knees.
- Initiate the movement by twisting your hips and the ball sideways and away from the wall.
- Rotate swiftly in the opposite direction and explosively throw the medicine ball against the ball and catch it.
- Repeat 6-8 reps on one side.
- Switch sides and go through the movement with your other side.
- Aim to complete 2–3 sets of 6–8 reps per side for a session.
Cossack squats target many lower body muscles, including the hip adductors, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. They are also great for boosting knee, ankle, and hip mobility.
The side-to-side movements during the cossack squat exercises allow you to stretch the adductors and strengthen the frontal or horizontal plane.
Cossack squats allow you to strengthen your leg muscles on one side while mobilizing the adductors on the other.
Thus they are some of the best hip adductor exercises for boosting lateral movement and the body’s ability to change direction.
Most strength exercises are in the vertical or sagittal plane. Including cossack squats, which allow training n the frontal plane, can immensely benefit many athletes and exercisers.
Holding a dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands at your chest as you do the exercise makes it more challenging and helps improve the outcome.
Steps to follow
- Stand with feet a lot wider than shoulder width. You can hold a kettlebell or dumbbell with both hands at your chest if you are looking for a challenge. Point both feet forward.
- Inhale, shift your weight to one leg, say the left leg, lower your hips and bend your left knee to lower your body as far as possible. Ensure your left foot stays flat on the floor. Keep your right leg stretched with locked knees, the heel firmly on the floor, and lift the toes and twist your foot away from your body as you do the downward movement. Keep your torso straight.
- Pause, exhale, push through the left foot, and raise your hips to return to your starting position.
- Change direction and repeat on the other side.
- Repeat 8-12 reps on each side for a set and 3-4 sets per session.
Side Lying Hip Adduction
Lying hip adduction is one of the best adductor exercises for beginners.
The exercise requires no equipment, but you can add some ankle weights to make it more challenging.
Steps to follow
- Lie on your side on the floor or on an exercise mat.
- Extend your legs, keep your spine neutral and your feet together and pointing forward, and stack your hips.
- Bend your lower arm and place it under your head for support. Bend your top arm and place your palm across your tummy and on the floor.
- Ensure you align your hips and shoulder with the floor
- Bend your top knee and position the foot on the floor in front of the lower leg.
- Without bending your lower leg, lift it as far as possible off the floor to contract your adductors.
- Return the lower let slowly to the floor in a controlled manner
- Repeat 8-12 reps on one side
- Switch sides and go through the movement with the other leg.
- Aim for 8-12 reps on each side for a set and 2-3 sets per session.
Wide Stance Squat
Wide-stance squats are one of the best squat variations for producing greater abduction and adduction.
The exercise generates better internal and external rotation of the femur (upper thigh bone) and engages more muscles than narrow squats.
Wide stance squats are some of the best adductor exercises that spread movement over all three planes of motion (sagittal, frontal, and transverse), helping to create better hip joint stability. That can help improve your performance in the gym and other physical activities.
You can do wide stance squats with a barbell, dumbbells, or only your body weight.
Steps to follow
- Stand upright with feet wider than shoulder width and point your toes outward.
- Keep your chest high, your back neutral, and look straight ahead.
- Bend your hips and knees and lower yourself as if sitting in a chair until your thighs are, at least, parallel to the floor.
- Hold for a second or two, then push through your heels and extend your knees and hips to return to your starting position.
- Repeat 8-12 reps for a set and 2-3 sets in a session
How to Warm Up for Adductor Exercises
It is necessary to warm up before any strenuous physical activities, such as adductor exercises. That will get more blood flowing into your muscles, increase internal body temperature, and help reduce the risk of injury.
For many exercisers, 5-10 minutes of low-intensity exercises, such as walking, followed by some stretching, will do.
The following are some exercises that can help stretch your adductors and help pump blood into your muscles.
Try any of these warm-up exercises to stretch your adductors and increase the blood flow to your muscles before any adductor exercises
Final words from LiveLIfe
The adductors are a vital group of muscles in the thigh that help the lower body to function as expected. They support many physical activities and explosive movements, including running, jumping, and rotation.
Weak adductor muscles could seriously reduce your performance in many physical activities and increase the risk of injury.
Include these adductor exercises in your training regimen to help strengthen your hip and thigh muscles, improve mobility, and boost athletic performance.
- Steven M. Short, Cameron W. MacDonald, Donald Strack. 2021. Hip and Groin Injury Prevention in Elite Athletes and Team Sport – Current Challenges and Opportunities. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2021; 16(1): 270–281. doi: 10.26603/001c.18705. PMCID: PMC7872466PMID: 33604155
- Riemann B, Congleton A, Ward R, Davies GJ. Biomechanical comparison of forward and lateral lunges at varying step lengths. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2013;53(2):130-138.