Hip abduction vs adduction

Increasing your hip strength is a great way to improve your overall strength by creating a solid foundation to perform compound exercises. This strength also has a knock-on effect making everyday tasks easier through improved balance, posture and mobility.

But, many gym goers often overlook their hip adductors and abductors and focus primarily on other leg muscles such as hamstrings and quadriceps.

However, we will look at the benefits of training your hip abductors and adductors and check out what machines and exercises you can use to help target these muscle groups and make them stronger.

Hip adduction machine


What's The Difference? Hip Abduction vs Adduction

The terms adduction and abduction are broader terms that refer to the movement of your limbs in relation to your body's center line.

If you imagine your body as being divided right down the middle, this is your center line.

Abduction in general refers to moving your limb away from your center line whereas adduction is the reverse where your limb moves back towards your body's center line.

If you are having a hard time remembering the difference between the two, just think of the word ADD from ADDUCTION, as in you are adding something to your body.

So, when we are looking at your hip abductors and hip adductors, we are looking at your legs being pulled towards your body for hip adductors and pushed away for hip abductors.

As muscles can only contract, the hip abductor muscles are on the outside of your hips whereas the hip adductors are mostly on the inside of your legs.

These are muscle groups rather than individual muscles and the hip abductor muscle group includes your glute minimus, glue medius, and the tensor fasciae latae.

Then we have your hip adductors which include the adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, obturator externus, and gracilis.

Hip adduction Exercise


Common Adduction and Abduction Exercises

Now that we understand the differences between the two movements and what muscles are worked we can look at hip abduction and hip adduction machines and exercises to strengthen your hips.


Hip Abduction Machines and Exercises

If we are talking about working your hip abductors, an obvious place to start is the hip abduction machine at your gym.

It is a quite straightforward machine where you sit down with your legs bent between two thigh pads. You then select a weight and push your legs outwards against the pads, in turn engaging your hip abductors.

Although the hip abductor machine looks very similar to the hip adductor machine, you can tell the difference by looking at which way the thigh pads are facing.

On the hip abduction machine, the thigh pads will be facing each other. Whereas on the hip adductor machine, they will be facing away from each other as we see below.

Hip adduction machine and Hip Abduction machine


You might also come across a hip adductor/ abduction machine that combines both machines into one with a rotating leg support.

But if you don't have access to these machines, there are also numerous exercises that you can use to target your hip abductors such as the side leg raises, lateral lunges, clamshells, and side plank hip abduction all make for good abduction exercises.


Hip Adduction Machines and Exercises

Now we want to target hip adduction muscles and as we saw above one great machine is the hip adduction machine which isolates the muscle group.

Another alternative is to use a cable machine with an ankle strap and step away and face perpendicular to the machine with your strapped leg closest to the cables. Then allow your leg to extend out to your side and engage your hip adductors to pull your ankle back to your center line.

If you don't have access to any machines, there are also plenty of hip adduction exercises that focus on your adductors such as cross scissors kicks, sumo squats, and standing leg circles.

 Hip Abductor exercise


Benefits of Stronger Adductors and Abductors

Of course, having a well-shaped booty is one benefit of doing both abduction and abduction exercises for your hips, but there's a lot more to it than just that. 

In fact, these two types of exercises, when combined, have many big benefits for you, including mobility, balance, stability, improved muscle strength, reduced pain, and more.


Stronger Hips

Both of these muscle groups are known as the supporting muscles. This means that they play a very important part in helping other muscles perform their movements.

For instance, both of these muscle groups are important for doing squats, and having strong hips will help improve your squat strength.

Related: Squats vs Leg Press Guide

In terms of doing compound exercises that are complex and require many different muscle groups to be activated, if it involves your legs, then both of these muscle groups are crucial to train and strengthen to improve your performance.

Hip Abductor machine being used


Improved Balance

Another big benefit of training both the adductor and abductor muscle groups is that they can also help improve your balance.

A big issue that many older people have as they age is limited balance and a lot of this has to do with weak and unstable leg muscles.

Naturally, the stronger and better trained your leg muscles are, particularly those around your thighs and hips, the easier of a time you will have balancing.

Having strong hips will also help you react much faster in the event of a slip and fall, so you can catch yourself instead of falling.


Better Posture

Something else worth mentioning with both of these muscle groups is that they help improve your posture. 

Both adductor and abductor muscles are crucial for stabilizing and supporting both your pelvis and hips.

If the muscles surrounding these joints and bones are strong, they can help reduce lower back pain and related symptoms, and help improve your posture in general.

At the very least, having strong supporting muscles around these areas will help keep them healthy into your old age.

Broken pelvises and broken hips are very common occurrences in old age, but strong supporting muscles can help reduce these injuries from occurring.

Hip abduction squat


Reduced Pain

At the very least, training these muscles can help to reduce overall pain in your hips, knees, ankles, and everything in between as they are all connected to each other.

If you have weak hip adductor or abductor muscles, it can result in pain all throughout your back and legs.

Since everything is connected, if your hip adductor and abductor muscles are stronger, it should also help reduce pain throughout the rest of your body.


More Explosive Speed

Although this is something that many other people don't tell you, the simple reality is that having stronger abductor and adductor muscles allows for more explosive speed.

If you are somebody who likes to do cardiovascular exercises, especially sprinting, then having stronger muscles around your thighs and hips is very important.

A lot of the power that you get when you run, cycle, or even climb stairs comes from these muscles.

If you need to move quickly, having strong abductor and adductor muscles is therefore very important.


Rounding Up

As you can see, both your abductor and abductor muscles are extremely important for a variety of reasons. 

Having strong muscles surrounding your hips and thighs, as well as your pelvis and hip bones allows for great stability, balance, a reduction in pain, and great overall power.

We highly recommend adding some exercises to your workout routine to help strengthen your hips.

Author's Photo

William Parrett

Will, co-founder of Home Gym Supply, launched the company in 2019 after 15-years in the fitness industry. His expertise stems not only from his professional background but also from his athletic pursuits. A former competitor in the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion (WBFF) and a competitive rugby player, Will has always been dedicated to health and fitness.