The hip abductors and adductors work in opposition to draw your thighs apart and toward each other, respectively. They also serve an important function as hip stabilizers during common movements such as walking and running. Strengthening the abductors and adductors can help you maintain proper pelvic position and prevent stress on your knees and lower back.
Hip Abductors and Adductors
The primary hip abductors include the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles, located on the outer hip. Both muscles attach to the side of the pelvis, or ilium, and insert onto the outer thigh bone, or femur. When they contract, they abduct the hip, lifting the thigh out to the side. They also stabilize the pelvis while walking, running and standing on one leg. The hip adductors are a group of five muscles on the inner thigh. They arise from various points on the pelvis and attach to the back of the thigh and shin bones. When the adductors contract, they adduct the hip, pulling the thighs toward each other.
Hip Abduction Exercises
Hip abductions, whether executed from a standing or side-lying position, work the abductors. For the standing variation, you may want to hold a bar or other support with one hand to maintain your balance. Lift the opposite leg out to the side and then lower the leg to bring the thighs together. To add resistance, use ankle weights or a low cable pulley machine. To perform floor hip abductions, lie on your side on a mat. Support your head with your bottom forearm, and place your top hand on the floor in front of you to maintain your balance. Lift your top leg toward the ceiling and then lower to the starting position. Use ankle weights to increase the difficulty. Turn over and repeat for the other leg.
Hip Adduction Exercises
To work your adductors on the floor, lie on your side on a mat. Support yourself on your bottom forearm and place your top hand on the floor in front of you. Position your top foot on the floor in front of your bottom thigh. Lift your bottom leg toward the ceiling and then lower it to the floor. To add resistance, add ankle weights. You can also perform standing hip adductions with a low cable pulley machine or do seated hip adductions using an adductor machine.
Before beginning your strength training workout, warm up your muscles with dynamic movements of your hips and legs. To build strength, aim for a resistance that allows you to perform two to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions. Sets of 10 to 15 repetitions will develop muscular endurance. Rest two to three minutes in between sets. Space strength training workouts at least 48 hours apart. To stretch your adductors, sit with the soles of your feet together and your knees apart. Grasp your feet and use your elbows to gently press your inner thighs toward the floor. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.