Glutes are all the rage, but don’t build up one side of the hip while totally forgetting about the other! Here’s all the adductor training you need to build a strong, capable lower body.
With glutes having become “the new biceps,” it’s common for personal trainers, strength coaches, athletes, and everyday exercises enthusiasts alike to go hog-wild with exercises that focus on training the hip abductors—i.e., the glutes.
Want proof? Look no further than the cc, a movement that was pretty much never seen a few years ago, but is now about as mainstream as it gets.
To be clear, all this new focus on the glutes is great. However, as is often the case with new exercise obsessions, it often comes at the expense of what’s happening on the other side of the joint. In this case, that would be the hip adductors, or inner thighs.
The adductors will never be as sexy or powerful as the abductors, but they’re essential for a strong, functional lower body. Plus, it’s never a good idea to completely focus on one muscle or motion, and do nothing at all for its opposite.
Here are my science-backed reasons why it’s important not to neglect training your adductors, and a couple of the best (and most difficult) adductor training exercises you’re probably not doing.
Why Use Hip Adductor Exercises?
Interestingly, research on professional ice hockey players also found that they were 17 times more likely to sustain an adductor muscle strain (i.e., groin injury) if their adductor (muscles that move your leg toward the body’s midline) strength was less than 80% of their abductor (muscles that move your leg away from the body’s midline) strength.
No, you’re probably not a pro hockey player, but here is news for you: Groin injuries are also very common in the gym, and in life, and they can be a bear to heal from.
So, with this evidence in mind, it stands to reason that complimenting your training of the muscles that contribute to hip abduction by also regularly incorporating exercises to improve the strength of the hip adductors will not only help 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 Sufficient!
Many personal trainers and strength coaches are under the impression that you don’t need to do specific isolation exercises to target your adductors, since compound exercises like squats and lunges do the job effectively. However, the research in this arena doesn’t necessarily paint that same training picture.
A review investigating the barbell squat found that a greater hip external rotation position (i.e., feet turned out) along with a wide stance of the feet increased hip adduction activation during this exercise. As weights got heavier, the activation went up more. 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.
In other words, incorporating some adductor isolation exercises into your workout, along with compound exercises, can make your training more comprehensive and 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.
Two Prerequisite Exercises To The Copenhagen Hip Adduction
The standard exercises to train the hip adductors are pretty well-known: standing hip adductions with a band or cable attached to your ankle, and the seated hip adduction machine. there is also a different move: The Copenhagen hip adduction exercise.
However, not everyone will be able to perform the Copenhagen hip adduction exercise well, because it is a pretty advanced move that requires you to be proficient at holding yourself in a strong and stable side-elbow plank position. And, also is very demanding on the adductor musculature in both the top and bottom leg.
The Copenhagen Hip Adduction Exercise
Put simply, the Copenhagen hip adduction exercise has been shown to be a very effective movement for training hip adductors. It’s certainly great exercises for targeting the hip adductors, along with the additional shoulder and torso musculature demands.
Regardless of which variation you perform, here are some coaching tips to keep in mind when performing this exercise:
- 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, it’s generally recommended doing 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps per side. Once you can do that, you’ll have earned seriously strong thighs, and taken serious steps to bulletproof your lower body.
Author: Nick Tumminello