Looking for higher lifts, deeper middle splits, square front splits and better turn out? Then hip adductor exercises are for you!
Did you know that this one muscle group can increase your overall performance and also help decrease the chance of getting injured?
The adductors are critical for overall strength and stability of the body. If you have worked on building the muscles of your lower body but still are not getting the results you desire it may be the adductors.
In this article I’m going to teach you some amazing, effective hip adductor exercises to help you build bullet-proof lifts and killer turn out.
These hip adductor exercises are going to improve your athletic performance significantly and help you tone, strengthen, stretch and stabilize your hips.
Anatomy of the adductors
The hip adductors are a group of five muscles placed in the medial compartment of the thigh. These muscles are called the adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, gracilis, and pectineus.
Due to their location, the hip adductors shape the surface anatomy of the medial thigh. These muscles extend from the anteroinferior external surface of the bony pelvis to the shaft of femur and proximal tibia.
The main part of hip adductors are innervated by the obturator nerve (L2-L4) and supplied by blood mainly via the branches of the femoral and obturator arteries.
Just like their name, the main action of this group of muscles is to create adduction of the thigh at the hip joint. When doing a jumping jack, it’s the muscle group that pulls your legs back together at the end.
The unilateral adduction is the strongest when the hip joint is in the anatomical position. Just like the Leonardo Davinci piece, The Anatomical Man, above.
Meanwhile, the bilateral synergic adduction is the strongest when the hip and knee are being flexed and extended, for example during weight-bearing exercises or horseback riding.
The adductors contribute to the stabilization and balance of the pelvis and body posture while standing, walking, or running.
Each muscle function
Adductor Longus – The main function of adductor longus is to adduct the thigh at the hip joint. Additionally, it contributes to the flexion of the extended thigh, as well as the extension of the flexed thigh. Its contribution to the internal (medial) rotation of the thigh is still under discussion.
Adductor Brevis – The main function of the adductor brevis muscle is the adduction of the thigh. Additionally, the adductor brevis muscle has a role in the flexion of the hip and some recent studies suggest it may also be involved in the external rotation of the thigh.
Adductor Magnus muscle – Aside from being a strong adductor of the thigh, adductor Magnus contributes to the flexion of the thigh (adductor part) and extension of the thigh (hamstring part).
Gracilis muscle – Gracilis is one of the weakest adductors of the thigh. However, it acts as a strong flexor and internal (medial) rotator of the leg at the knee joint.
Pectineus muscle – The main function of the pectineus muscle is to flex and adduct the thigh at the hip joint.
Why you should strength train the adductors
A 2015 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that hip adductor strength was one of the most common risk factors for groin injury in sport.
Interestingly, research on professional ice hockey players also found that they were 17 times more likely to experience an adductor muscle strain if their adductor strength was less than 80% of their abductor strength.
No, you’re probably not a hockey player or an experienced athlete, but I’ve got some news for you: Groin injuries are also very common in the gym, and in everyday life… Especially if you are trying to work that turn out way too hard or fast.
You should start incorporating regularly exercises to improve the strength of the hip adductors that will not only help you to make your training programs more comprehensive, but also may help to reduce the risk of suffering a groin injury.
Wide-Stance Squats And Single-Leg Exercises Aren’t Enough!
Many personal trainers say that you don’t need to do specific isolation exercises to target your adductors, since compound exercises like squats and lunges do the job perfectly.
A review investigating the barbell squat found that a greater hip external rotation position along with a wide stance of the feet increased hip adduction activation during this exercise. Adductor activation increased as the weight load increased.
However, the highest activation values for this movement, as well as for single-leg squats and lunges, are still relatively low compared to exercises that focus primarily on the hip adduction movement.
Said differently, incorporating some adductor isolation exercises into your workout, along with compound exercises, can make your training way more effective. And unlike lots of heavy, wide-stance squats, you can add it to your workout with pretty much no further impact on your recovery or other training.
Here are my 3 favorite exercises for hip adductors you can do at home.
Hip Adductor Exercise #1
Side leg raises
This exercise is suitable for all levels. It works your hips, glutes, and legs.
- Lie on your right side with your left leg extended out straight in front of you. Knee is bent and foot meets the floor.
- Use your right hand or a cushion to support your head.
- Slowly raise your right leg as high as you can towards the sky.
Hold this position for a few seconds before lowering your leg back down.
Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 repetitions on each side.
Hip Adductor Exercise #2
Wide leg squat
These squats target your adductors, quadriceps, and glutes. Use a resistance band around your thighs to increase the resistance and keep your body in alignment.
- Stand with your feet wider than your hips.
- Slowly lower your hips down as far as you can.
- Pause in this position, engaging your inner thighs.
- Return to the starting position.
Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Hip Adductor Exercise # 3
Copenhagen Hip Adduction
- Place a rolled-up towel or mat both underneath your leg that’s atop the platform and underneath your bottom elbow for comfort.
- Keeping your right leg straight and your body in a straight line from your left knee to your hips to your shoulders, press your left leg into the top of the platform as you elevate your right hip off the ground. Simultaneously lift your right leg up to squeeze the inside of your right thigh against the inside of your left thigh.
- Pause for 1-2 seconds at the top before reversing the action and lowering your right leg and hip back down to the floor. That completes one rep.
Do all reps on the same side before switching sides and performing the exercise with your right leg on top of the platform.
In term of sets and reps, I generally recommend doing 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps per side.
To keep the body in harmony you will want to train the antagonist muscles too!
This inner thigh exercise can also be done while sitting in a chair. You can do this with a resistance band around your lower thighs for an even better stretch.
- Lie on your right side with bent knees.
- Slowly open your left leg as far as you can.
- Hold this position for a few seconds and then lower back down to the starting position.
Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 repetitions on each side.
Reduce back pain and work your core, hip flexors, and glutes with this exercise.
- From tabletop position, yield your weight evenly onto your hands and right knee.
- Slowly lift your left leg away from your body, keeping your knee bent.
- Pause here before returning to the starting position.
Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions on each side.
Standing lateral leg raises
This exercise builds strength and flexibility in your glutes, adductors, and hamstrings. Increase the difficulty by using ankle weights or a resistance band.
- Stand on your right foot with your left foot slightly raised.
- Place your hands on a wall or chair for support and engage your core.
- Keep your hips square as you engage your inner thighs to lift your left leg as high as you can.
- Pause here for a few moments before slowly returning your leg back down.
Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 14 repetitions on each side.
Which of the hip adductor exercises helped you the most?
Download the program here:
If you need some motivation or personal feedback you can always join me for a Flexibility & Contortion Class.
In happiness and health,