Your hip abductors are a group of muscles on the outside of your hip, whose main function is to abduct (bring apart) your thighs. The abductor muscles can also rotate your thigh internally and externally, extend and flex your hip, as well as stabilize your pelvis and trunk when standing on one leg.
In this article, you will learn about your abductor muscle anatomy, what some effective abductor exercises are, and how you can combine them into a workout.
Hip Abductor Muscle Anatomy
Your main hip abductors are:
- Gluteus maximus (upper fibers)
- Gluteus medius
- Gluteus minimus
- Tensor fasciae latae
As you can see, all your gluteal muscles are involved in hip abduction. You can read more about them in our article: How to Train Your Glutes.
All of the muscles above originate from your hip bone in your pelvis and insert on your femur (thigh bone) or iliotibial tract, which runs on the outside of your leg and inserts in your tibia.
While these muscles are all involved in the abduction of your thigh, they also have secondary functions due to their different origins and insertions. Depending on the position of your thigh and which muscle fibers are contracting, these muscles can rotate your thigh internally or externally, and extend or flex your hip. Last, but definitely not least, as hip abductors, these muscles are important for stabilizing your trunk and pelvis when you are walking, running, or standing on one leg.
Hip Abductor Exercises
In this section, we’ll take a look at three different hip abduction exercises, targeting the muscles’ primary functions of abduction and trunk stabilization.
1. Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian split squat trains your quads, glutes, and hip adductors, and also your hip abductors. Because you are standing on one leg while exerting force, the abductor and adductor muscles of your hip have to work hard to stabilize your pelvis and trunk.
What’s better: you are training these muscles while simultaneously practicing control and coordination of all the muscles surrounding your hip. Thus, the Bulgarian split squat is a great way to combine strength training of your hip and leg muscles, with functional training of your control and stability on one leg. That is something that is necessary for most sports performed on your feet.
2. Lateral Walk With Band
The lateral walk with band trains your hip abductors in both active hip abduction when you’re moving your leg out to the side, and in stabilization of the “back” leg, every time you are supporting your weight on one leg.
- Banded Side Kick
- Side Lying Leg Raise
3. Hip Abduction Machine
Of the three exercises included in this guide, the hip abduction machine is the most isolating, and least “functional” one. Because you are sitting down, you are removing the trunk stabilizing aspect of hip abduction training, and instead focusing solely on abducting your thighs.
- Hip Abduction Against Band
- Clamshell Against Band
Hip Abductor Workout
Generally, the abductors are worked quite well in regular leg training. At least if you are including some one-legged exercises such as Bulgarian split squats or lunges. Our guide on leg training contains an example of a leg workout that will train much of your abductors’ function. That workout is also available for free in our workout app StrengthLog.
However, if you’re still interested in what a specific abductor workout could look like, here’s an example.
StrengthLog’s Abductor Workout
- Bulgarian Split Squat: 3 sets x 8 reps
- Lateral Walk With Band: 3 sets x 20 steps
- Hip Abduction Machine: 3 sets x 12 reps
Together, these exercises will train your abductors well, stimulating both muscle growth and strength. If you train these exercises with a good technique, and regularly try to increase the weight you are using while still maintaining good form, your abductors are bound to grow bigger and stronger.
And that’s it! Hopefully, by now you have a good grasp of your abductor muscle anatomy, what some effective abductor exercises are, and how you can combine them into a workout.
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Do you want to read more of our muscle group training guides? You find them all here.