Your hip adductors are a group of muscles on the inside of your thigh, whose main function is to adduct (bring together) your thighs. Some of your adductor muscles also flex or extend your hip, as well as stabilize your pelvis and trunk when standing on one leg.
In this article, you will learn about your adductor muscle anatomy, what some effective adductor exercises are, and how you can combine them into a workout.
Hip Adductor Muscle Anatomy
Your adductor muscle group is made up of:
- Adductor magnus
- Adductor minimus (often considered to be a part of adductor magnus)
- Adductor brevis
- Adductor longus
- Obturator externus
While all the muscles above are involved in adduction of your thigh, they also have secondary functions due to their different origins and insertions. Depending on the position of your thigh, these muscles can rotate your thigh internally or externally. The small muscle pectineus is a hip flexor (brings your thigh forward), while the large and powerful adductor muscles are hip extensors. Gracilis inserts on your tibia in your lower leg, and can even aid in knee flexion (bending your knee).
Your adductor magnus might be the most overlooked muscle in your thigh. It is one of your most powerful hip extensors in the squat, contributing more to hip extension than your glutes and hamstrings combined.1 Deep squat training has been found to induce robust muscle growth in the adductors (+6 %), gluteus maximus (+7 %), and quadriceps (+5 %), but not in the hamstrings (+0.5 %).2
Visually, your adductor muscle group makes up a significant portion of the inner and back portion of your thigh. In some individuals, the adductor magnus is the largest singular muscle in the thigh. Its size is only rivaled by the vastus lateralis, which on average is just slightly larger.3 4
Hip Adductor Exercises
In this section, we’ll take a look at three different adductor exercises, targeting the muscles’ primary functions of adduction and hip flexion.
1. The Squat
As the previously mentioned study found, ten weeks of deep squat training led to robust muscle growth in the adductors (on par with quad and glute growth).
The squat, and its variations, remain a great exercise for lower body training, including your adductors.
2. Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian split squat trains hip extension in a similar way to the barbell squat, and thus train the hip extending function of your adductors. However, since the split squat is performed on one leg, this exercise adds an element of hip adduction (as well as abduction) and pelvis stabilization.
Thus, the Bulgarian split squat is a great way to combine strength training of your adductors, abductors, quads, and glutes, with functional training of your control and stability on one leg, something that is necessary for most sports performed on your feet.
3. Hip Adduction Machine
Finally, the hip adduction machine targets the muscle groups main function of adduction. Depending on the degree of flexion of your hip, you will target slightly different portions of your adductor muscle group. For complete training of your adductors, you might therefore want to consider incorporating both sitting and standing (for example, adduction against bands) adduction exercises.
- Hip Adduction Against Band
- Copenhagen Adduction
Hip Adductor Workout
Generally, the adductors are worked quite well in regular leg training. Our guide on leg training contains an example of a leg workout that will train much of your adductors’ function. That workout is also available for free in our workout app StrengthLog.
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However, if you’re still interested in what a specific adductor workout could look like, here’s an example.
StrengthLog’s Adductor Workout
- Squat: 3 sets x 5 reps
- Bulgarian Split Squat: 3 sets x 10 reps
- Hip Adduction Machine: 3 sets x 12 reps
Together, these exercises will train your adductors 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 adductors are bound to grow bigger and stronger.
And that’s it! Hopefully, by now you have a good grasp of your adductor muscle anatomy, what some effective adductor exercises are, and how you can combine them into a workout.
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- Relative Muscle Contributions to Net Joint Moments in the Barbell Back Squat.
- Eur J Appl Physiol. 2019 Sep;119(9):1933-1942. Effects of squat training with different depths on lower limb muscle volumes.
- Okajimas Folia Anat Jpn. 2003 Aug;80(2-3):47-55. Human lower limb muscles: an evaluation of weight and fiber size.
- Okajimas Folia Anat Jpn. 1996 Dec;73(5):247-51. Morphological analysis of the human lower extremity based on the relative muscle weight.