hip adductor exercises and stretches

16 Best Hip Adductor Exercises & Stretches To Strengthen The Inner Thighs

August 07, 2021

Hip adductor exercises work multiple small muscles in the inner thigh that are responsible for bringing your thighs together, providing balance and supporting proper hip alignment. Most people might only consider doing hip adductor exercises whenever they walk past the hip adductor machine in the gym but we are here to change that M.O. It’s important to strengthen the hip adductor muscles to improve flexibility and mobility, enhance stability and prevent future injuries. In this article, we cover 16 of the best hip adductor exercises and stretches that you should start to work into your normal fitness routine.

What are hip adductors?

The hip adductors are a group of five muscles in the inner thighs. The main function of the hip adductor muscles is to adduct the hips or bring the thighs together to the midline of the body.

The hip adductors include the following muscles:

  • Adductor Brevis: The shortest of the hip adductors, the adductor brevis is a triangular muscle positioned behind the adductor longus and in front of the adductor magnus. The main function of the adductor brevis muscle is to adduct the thigh. This muscle also plays a role in flexion of the hip and possibly even external rotation of the thigh.
  • Adductor Longus: This triangular shaped muscle is the most anteriorly located muscles of the hip adductors. The function of the adductor longus is adduction of the thigh at the hip joint. This muscle also helps with flexion of the thigh when extended as well as the extension of a flexed thigh. There’s also discussion of how the adductor longus functions in internal rotation of the thigh.
  • Adductor Magnus: This fan shaped muscle is the largest hip adductor muscle.  The adductor magnus supports the flexion of the thigh and the extension of the thigh.
  • Gracilis: One of the weaker hip adductor muscles and the most superficial, the gracilis overlies the other adductor muscles. The gracilis functions as a flexor and internal rotator of the leg at the knee joint.
  • Pectineus: With its name derived from the Latin word meaning comb the pectineus is a short, flat muscle located at the front of the upper and medial area of the thigh. This muscle both flexes and adducts the thigh at the hip joint.
abductor vs adductor

Hip Adductors vs Hip Abductors

Many people might get confused about the difference between the hip adductors and hip abductors although they play opposing primary roles in the body. As mentioned above, the hip adductors are responsible for bringing your thighs together at the midline of the body while the hip abductor muscles are responsible for opening the thighs away from the midline of the body.

Related: 10 Hip Abductor Exercises For Stronger Hips & Tighter Backside

Benefits Of Hip Adductor Exercises

The hip adductors are often overlooked when it comes to strengthening exercises but this is a mistake. By not strengthening the hip adductors you are leaving yourself open to groin injuries. Below are some other benefits of performing hip adductor exercises:

  • Better Balance: Strengthened adductor muscles mean better balance as they keep our bodies upright when making sudden lateral movements. Some hip adductor exercises are also encourage unilateral movement which engages the small stabilizing muscles, leading to improved balance.
  • Enhanced Rotational Power: Strong hip adductors enable our bodies to produce more rotational power. The internal rotation of the hips required in some sports like baseball or tennis require rotational torque and power which is partly supported by hip adductor muscles.
  • Boost Hip Extension: Hip extension plays a vital role in some of the big compound lifts such as deadlifts and squats. Performing hip adductor exercises in your normal workout routine can improve your lifts, boost athletic performance and make daily life activities easier.
  • Reduce Risk of Injury: Groin pulls are a common injury sustained in athletics and even in daily life. The cause of groin strain is often due to weak or tight hip adductors. By strengthening and stretching the adductor muscles you can reduce the chances of experiencing this injury.

16 Best Hip Adductor Exercises & Stretches

Hip adductor exercises will strengthen your inner thighs to help you perform better and feel better while reducing the risk of experiencing groin pain. Below we begin with the easiest hip adductor exercises then work through to the more advanced exercises.

After we run through the strengthening exercises, we will get into the stretches...

11 Hip Adductor Exercises

Note: The following hip adductor exercises can also be done with only your bodyweight.

1. Standing Leg Circles

This can be considered a dynamic warmup exercise as you will be stretching your hip adductors more than you are strengthening them. Standing leg circles will get the blood flowing to the muscles in the hips, glutes and upper leg region. Although this isn’t a difficult exercise as far as resistance is concerned, it does require good balance as your weight will be shifted onto one leg throughout the movement.

easy hip adductor exercise

How to:

  • Stand with feet hip width apart
  • Lift one leg off the ground
  • While balancing on one leg, create small circles with your lifted leg
  • Complete desired reps
  • Switch sides

Note: If you have trouble with balancing, stand close to a prop where you can help stabilize your body by holding onto something.

2. Side Lying Hip Adduction

This is an excellent exercise for the hip adductors that can be done on the ground while isolating one leg at a time. All you need to do is to focus on contracting those hip adductor muscles to lift your leg up off the ground.

lying hip adduction

How to:

  • Lie down on your side
  • Bring your arms in front of you with your elbows and forearms on the ground for support
  • Lift your upper leg over your lower leg placing your heel against the thigh of your bottom leg
  • Keeping your lower leg straight, lift it upwards as far as possible
  • Slowly return to starting position
  • Repeat for desired reps then switch sides

Note: You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by strapping an ankle weight to your leg or by using a resistance band attached to an anchor.

3. Squat Side Kick

This bodyweight exercise will work both the adductors and the abductors and is a great all-around lower body exercise. The squat side kick combines two movements that enable both muscle strengthening and stretching which is important to reduce your risk of suffering from groin pain.

adductor exercises

How to:

  • Start in a squat position with your hands together in front of you
  • Stand up and transfer your weight to one leg while kicking out the other leg to the side
  • Return to squat position then repeat with opposite leg
  • Complete desired reps

Note: Keep your core engaged throughout the movement with your back straight, chest up and don’t let your knees extend past your toes while squatting.

4. Side Lying Leg Raise

This is a great bodyweight exercise that can hit the hip adductors of one leg while hitting the hip abductors of the other leg as you will be using an isometric hold on your opposite leg to keep it in the air.

hip adductor strengthening exercises

How to:

  • Lie down on your side with your elbow and forearm on the ground bracing your upper body
  • Raise your top leg up as far as comfortable and hold it there
  • Lift your bottom leg up to your other leg until they touch then lower back to starting position
  • Complete desired reps then switch sides

Note: To make this more difficult strap ankle weights to both legs.

5. Sumo Squat

This variation of the squat will hit the large muscle groups in the lower body plus the inner thighs. Focus on keeping your back straight and your chest up throughout this movement. Even though the sumo squat has smaller range of motion compared with a regular squat, it is still an effective exercise that can be incorporated into your normal exercise routine.

exercises for hip adductors

How to:

  • Stand in in a wider than shoulder width stance with your toes pointing outwards
  • Lower down into a squat, dropping your hips down and back while keeping your chest up and back straight until your thighs are parallel to the ground
  • Push off through the floor returning to starting position
  • Repeat for desired reps

Note: Increase difficulty by holding a weight or kettlebell or add a jump into the exercise when pushing back up to starting position.

6. Cross Scissors

This is a great exercise to work the hip adductor muscles and the core simultaneously. Cross scissors are challenging as you need to stay in a crunched position throughout the movement. Maintaining this position while crossing your legs in front of you require all the stabilizing muscles to be engaged.

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How to:

  • Sit down and brace yourself by putting your hands on the floor behind you
  • Bring your legs off the ground in front of you at a 30 degree angle with one leg crossed over the other
  • Keeping your core engaged throughout the movement in a semi-"V" position, bring your legs out to the sides then bring them back together while crossing the other leg over
  • Alternate each leg until you complete desired reps

Note: You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by sitting in a "V" position without bracing your upper body with your arms.

7. Dumbbell Side Lunge

The side lunge is an excellent exercise to improve balanace, stability and lower body strength. The side to side movement is both a strengthening and stretching exercise that works both the hip adductors and hip abductor muscles.

 bodyweight hip adductor exercises

How to:

  • Stand with feet hip width apart and hold a weight at your chest level
  • Take a large step to your side and drop your hips down and back until your thigh is parallel with the ground while keeping your other foot planted to to the floor.
  • Push through your bent leg's foot, bringing you back to starting position
  • Repeat for desired reps
  • Switch sides

Note: To make this exercise easier you can do bodyweight side lunges. Make sure to keep your back straight and chest up while trying not to lean forward. 

8. Cossack Squat

Cossack squats move the body through the frontal plane of motion, going side to side. Working your lower body at this angle can improve the mobility of your hips, knees and ankles. You will enhance your stability by mastering this exercise while getting a good stretch and strengthening of the hip adductors.

hip adduction exercises

How to:

  • Stand with feet in wide stance with toes pointing outwards, similar to a sumo squat position
  • Lower down into a squat while leaning to one side by dropping your hips down and back. Squat all the way down to that one side shifting your weight while your other leg is straightened out with your heel on the floor, toes pointing up.
  • Push through the floor with your bent leg bringing you back to the starting position
  • Repeat on the other side shifting your weight and lowering down into a squat on the opposite side
  • Complete desired reps

Note: This exercise requires a high degree of flexibility so if you can’t go all the way down then go as far as you can while trying to improve each workout. It’s important to not round your back in this exercise.

9. Copenhagen Side Plank

This is one of the most difficult plank variations that not only hits the core but also strengthens the hip adductors. The Copenhagen side plank will help to balance out the strength in the muscles on the outside of the hip.

best adductor exercises

How to:

  • Lie down on the ground perpendicular to a bench then brace yourself on your elbow and forearm
  • Lift with your knees bent lift your top leg up and place it onto the top of the bench
  • Bring your other leg up to the bottom of the bench
  • Hold this position for as long as possible
  • Repeat for desired reps
  • Switch sides

Note: Increase the difficulty by performing this exercise with your legs straight with only your ankle resting on the bench.

    GYM OR RESISTANCE BAND HIP ADDUCTOR EXERCISES

    There are multiple ways to work your hip adductor muscles but the following two exercises require gym equipment or resistance bands.

    10. Cable Hip Adductor

    You might see women at the gym doing this exercise while the men are avoiding it. It’s time to change the stigma that cable hip adductions are not manly, everyone should be doing this exercise to strengthen the adductors to reduce risk of injury. Make sure you’re warmed up with some dynamic stretches before doing this exercise then try to start with low weight and higher reps until you are comfortable enough to increase the weight.

    benefits of hip adductor exercises

    How to:

    • Find an attachment that you can use to strap onto your ankle closest to the pulley. Set up the pulley around calf level.
    • Stand to the side of the pulley. Brace yourself using your hand against the machine in a safe place where your fingers won’t get pinched.
    • Your active leg should be up off the ground towards the pulley. Pull your leg away from the pulley towards the center of your body.
    • Slowly let your leg return to starting position
    • Completed desired reps

    Note: This exercise can also be done in the exact same manner by attaching a resistance band to a fixed anchor point.

    11. Seated Hip Adduction

    This exercise will isolate the hip adductor muscles as you are seated, only having to focus on bringing your thighs together. Add this exercise towards the end of your leg day after completing the bigger compound lifts such as squats.

     adduction exercises

    How to:

    • Get into position on the machine with your back against the back rest
    • Set the width of the knee pads to a manageable position that gives a good stretch to your groin but doesn’t overstretch the adductor muscles
    • Set up a light weight for first warm up set so that you don’t overdo it
    • Squeeze your thighs together while exhaling, until your knees meet in the middle
    • Slowly return to starting position
    • Complete desired reps

    Note: This exercise can also be done with resistance bands by anchoring the band to your side at bench level. Loop it over one leg then contract your hip adductors, bringing your thigh toward the center of your body.

    Is the hip adduction machine good for you?

    There are some people that will argue that the hip adduction machine isn’t good for you as it doesn’t mimic any real-world movements. This is true to a point but more important is the capability of the hip adduction machine has to strengthen the hip adductor muscles. It’s important to note that when using the hip adduction machine that you shouldn’t go past your natural range of motion or lift a weight that is too heavy relative to your strength.

    Does hip adduction make your thighs look bigger?

    No, your thighs won’t get bigger by doing hip adduction exercises. By doing hip adduction exercises you will be toning the inner thighs which can make your inner thighs look tighter and stronger.

      5 Hip Adductor Stretches

      To recover from groin pain or reduce your risk of experiencing groin strain, regular stretching and strengthening of the hip adductors is necessary. All these hip adductor stretches should be done pain free. If you experience any pain then stop immediately and as always consult your doctor before starting any new exercise or stretching routine.

      12. Lying Adductor Stretch

      hip adductor stretches

      How to:

      • Lie down on the ground then bring your legs up straight towards the ceiling
      • Lower both legs as far as possible to the sides
      • Hold for 20-30 seconds
      • Return to starting position
      • Repeat 2-3 times

      13. Seated Groin Stretch

      adductor stretches to fix groin pain

      How to:

      • Sit down on the ground
      • Bring your feet together in front of your body while keeping your back straight
      • Hold your feet with your hands and try to bring your knees as close to the ground as you can
      • Hold this position for 20-30 seconds
      • Shake out your legs the repeat 2-3 times

      14. Wide Stance Adductor Stretch

      stretches for groin pain

      How to:

      • Stand with a wider than shoulder width stance and toes pointing outwards
      • Lower down into squat position until your thighs are parallel with the floor
      • Place your hands on your knees and push gently out to the sides as far as comfortable
      • Hold for up to 30 seconds
      • Repeat 2-3 times

      15. Kneeling Adductor Stretch

      hip adductor stretches at home

      How to:

      • Get down onto the floor on your hands and knees
      • Bring one leg out to your side keeping your leg straight while your hands are a little wider than shoulder with apart
      • Lean forward slightly while gently pushing into the ground with your outstretched leg
      • Hold for up to 30 seconds then switch sides
      • Repeat this 2-3 times each leg

      16. Frog Stretch

       hip adductor exercises without machine

      How to:

      • Get down on all hands and knees
      • Lower down onto your elbows and forearms
      • Spread your knees out to the side as far as comfortable while keeping your back straight
      • Hold this position for up to 30 seconds
      • Repeat 2-3 times

      More Resources on Lower Body Stretches:

      hip adductor exercises at home

      Hip Adductor & Groin Pain 

      What Is Adductor Tendonitis?

      Adductor tendonitis is when you feel pain in the adductor tendons where they insert into the pelvic bone in the upper inner thigh. Inflammation or degeneration of the adductor tendons can result in adductor tendonitis. Overuse is the common cause of this condition and symptoms are usually presented in pain or stiffness in the upper groin area and sometimes cause pain to travel down the leg.

      The common name given to describe the degeneration of the adductor tendon is adductor tendinopathy. Acute inflammation is likely to come from a recent injury. A professional therapist can diagnose whether the groin pain you’re feeling is originating from the hip adductor muscles, the iliopsoas muscle, the pubic bone or the abdominal wall (hernia) or even a combination of these.

      How Do You Get Groin Pain?

      Groin pain emanates from a groin pull or groin strain because too much stress was placed on your groin muscles; primarily the hip adductor muscles. If the muscles are stretched too forcefully or suddenly, they can get strained or even torn. Groin pulls happen a lot in sports that require quick lateral movements where players have to change direction on the drop of a dime.  

      What Does a Groin Pull Feel Like?

      If you’ve ever played sports like soccer, football, hockey tennis or participated in any other activity that requires sudden change of direction then you might’ve experienced a groin pull at one time or another. The most common symptoms of a groin pull are:

      • Pain when trying to raise your knee
      • Inner thigh pain or tender to the touch
      • Pain when bringing your legs together
      • Popping/snapping sound or sensation immediately followed by sharp pain

      Groin pulls or strains are categorized into three levels of severity:

      • 1st degree: Manageable pain with little loss of movement and/or strength
      • 2nd degree: Nagging pain with moderate loss of movement and/or strength
      • 3rd degree: Severe pain with extreme loss of movement and function due to muscle tear

      A doctor can give you an examination to determine the severity of the injury or might use other tests like MRI or X-ray to determine the root cause of the pain.

      How do you treat groin pain?

      Groin pulls usually get better on their own by resting the hip adductor muscles. You can help to quicken the healing time using the following methods:

      • Icing the painful area for 20-30 minutes every few hours for a 2-3 days.
      • Use some type of compression to the injured area with KT tape or compression shorts
      • Take anti-inflammatory medication
      • Perform stretching & strengthening exercises from this post (depending on severity of groin injury)

      How Do You Relieve Hip Adductor Pain?

      You can relieve hip adductor pain with self-massage through myofascial release. To release tight hip adductors you can use a massage ball, foam roller or any other type of semi-rigid ball. Follow the steps below to release tight hip adductor muscles or to fix groin pain.

      what is adductor tendonitis

      • Place a massage ball on the ground
      • Lie down on the ground and brace yourself with your forearms
      • Bring one leg up to your side by bending your knees then place your inner thigh on the massage ball while keeping your other leg straight
      • Rock forward and backward on the tight spots and/or trigger points in your inner thigh for 30-60 seconds
      • Repeat with your other leg
      • Complete this 2-3 times with each leg

      CONCLUSION

      Hip adductor exercises and stretches should be mixed into your normal fitness routine. Even if you’re not an athlete, maintaining strengthened and properly stretched hip adductor muscles will reduce your chances of a groin pull in the future. Try to perform targeted hip adduction exercises at least once a week. You can mix them in with your leg day or spend 10-15 minutes doing bodyweight or resistance band adduction exercises at home, just choose a few exercises from above then get to work.

      If you’re looking for more lower body exercises checkout these articles:



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