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December 03, 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 11 of the best hip adductor exercises as well as 5 stretches that you should start to work into your normal fitness routine.
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:
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.
The hip adductors are often overlooked when it comes to strengthening exercises for hips 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 inner thigh exercises:
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 using equipment.
After we run through the strengthening exercises, we will get into the stretches...
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.
Note: If you have trouble with balancing, stand close to a prop where you can help stabilize your body by holding onto something.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Note: To make this more difficult strap ankle weights to both legs.
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.
Note: Increase difficulty by holding a weight or kettlebell or add a jump into the exercise when pushing back up to starting position.
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.
Note: You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by sitting in a "V" position without bracing your upper body with your arms.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Note: Increase the difficulty by performing this exercise with your legs straight with only your ankle resting on the bench.
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.
Note: This exercise can also be done in the exact same manner by attaching a resistance band to a fixed anchor point.
Related: Best Cable Leg & Glute Exercises
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.
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. For ladies trying to sculpt their legs, we also suggest including exercises for saddlebags, which target the outer thigh, as well.
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.
More Resources on Lower Body Stretches:
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:
Groin pulls or strains are categorized into three levels of severity:
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:
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.
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, as well as a few outer thigh exercises, then get to work.
If you’re looking for more lower body exercises checkout these articles:
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