Jordan Smith
Published by Jordan Smith
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: February 1, 2021

If you’re a weightlifter, runner, cyclist, soccer, tennis, golf, baseball, ice or field hockey player prone to knee pain and injuries or groin strain, chances are your adductor muscles are weak.

No wonder when many people target only a handful of muscles like biceps, triceps, traps, lats, abs, glutes, hammies, and several other muscle groups in their workouts.

In this article, you’ll learn why you shouldn’t neglect your adductor strength and flexibility and how to improve it safely and efficiently.

We’ll suggest some simple adductor exercises to incorporate into your training routine — no need for a gym visit, an adduction machine, or other expensive equipment.

What Are the Adductor Muscles?

adductor muscles in the legs

The adductor muscles or hip adductors belong to a group of muscles in your inner thighs, containing:

  • Adductor brevis
  • Adductor longus
  • Adductor magnus
  • Obturator externus
  • Gracilis
  • Pectineus

The primary function of these groin muscles is to help bring your hips and thighs to the body midline (adduct them) to support proper balance and alignment.

They’re responsible for enabling your:

  • Pelvis stabilization
  • Knee flexion and medial rotation
  • Hip flexion, extension, internal and external rotation

For instance, adductors help you step to the side, get up from the squat, get out of bed, or the car.

They become increasingly activated when you’re running uphill, downhill, or when you’re performing explosive lateral and multi-directional movements.

Why Is Strengthening the Adductors Important?

man doing squats

Stretching, toning, and strengthening your hip adductors and other hip muscles is critical because it can help improve your sports performance by enhancing your hip extension, flexion, as well as internal and external rotational power.

These movements separate outstanding from average athletes, especially in sports like figure-skating and others already mentioned.

This is also equally important for squatting, sprinting, jumping, deadlifting, and many other similar everyday movements.

What’s more:

Strong hip adductors prevent groin strains, knee, and other common injuries. [1]

Injury prevention is crucial because these injuries may result in a decreased range of motion, chronic pain and muscle weakness, missed playing time, or even the inability to play sports again. [2]

A study on professional ice-hockey players has shown that the weaker your hip adductor muscles, the higher the risk of adductor and hip flexor strains and injuries. [3]

Here’s a quick and simple test to find out whether your adductors are weak:

“If your knees point outward during a squat then there could be an imbalance of hip strength with your hip adductors being weaker than the reciprocal hip muscles (hip abductors).”

- Kevin Laudner, Ph.D., Certified Athletic Trainer, Kinesiology Professor

Now, let’s find out how you can strengthen them easily.

What Exercises Work the Adductors?

Follow these best exercises to work the adductors and build your thigh strength and flexibility.

For the best results, perform at least 3 sets of each exercise, 3 times a week. And don’t forget to warm up for 5-10 minutes before you start.

1. Copenhagen Windmill Side Plank

man doing a side plank

For this adductor side plank exercise variation, put the ankle, shin, or knee of your right leg on a bench, coffee table, box, or another similar surface.

Use it to lift your left leg, hips, and trunk off the ground, relying on your left hand while keeping the whole body in a straight line.

Your glutes and core should be engaged, and your right arm extended above you.

Hold yourself in this plank position, maintaining stability for at least 30 seconds or as long as you can. Then, switch sides and repeat.

Do 3 sets of 10 reps per side.

2. Cossack Squats

Stand with your feet wider than your shoulder width, and your toes slightly turned outwards.

Keep the weight with both hands above your chest level for a better balance and stability (add no more than 10-15lbs if you’re a beginner).

Shift your weight into your right foot and lower into a deep lateral lunge with your right leg completely straight, foot fully planted, knee forward over your toes, and the chest up high, while moving your left heel to point the toes up.

Stand up (not necessarily all the way up unless you want to) and repeat the movement on the other side.

You can adjust your stance if necessary while you’re at the bottom of the squat.

Only go as far down as you feel comfortable to avoid tearing your groin muscle.

Perform 3 sets of 5-12 slow, controlled reps per leg.

It’ll be enough for strength and power athletes to improve their hip mobility and stability and enhance injury prevention of the knees, inner groin, and hips.

Other types of exercises:

3. Sumo Squats

man demonstrating a sumo squat

Stand with your feet wider than the shoulder width, and the toes turned out.

Keep your back straight and both arms fully extended in front of you at the shoulder level.

Bend both knees to lower your body into a squat position until your thighs get parallel to the ground.

Then, rise and repeat.

Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

4. Ball Squeeze

Lie on your back with your knees bent, both feet flat on the floor, head and shoulders raised from the floor, and both arms slightly lifted and straightened beside your body.

Place a small medicine ball between your legs and knees. Squeeze the squishy ball, drawing in your abs, and hold for 10 seconds. Then, relax and repeat.

Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

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5. Adductor Raise

woman doing adductor raises

Lie on your left side, leaning up on your left elbow and using your right hand for balance if necessary.

Bend your top leg, placing the right foot over your lower thigh.

From this position, lift your bottom leg and heel upward as high as comfortable, keeping it straight.

Hold for a few seconds, and return it slowly to the starting position. Then, repeat.

Do 5 sets of 10 reps with each leg.

Other types of exercises:

Are You Going To Try These Adductor Exercises?

There you have it — all the information you may need, plus some of the most effective, expert-approved exercises proven to activate your hip adductors particularly well.

Not only can they help make your adductors much stronger, but they can enable you to avoid pain and injuries, stay healthy, improve athletic performance, and enjoy your sports and other everyday activities.

You may perform these convenient exercises at home, in a gym, or wherever you feel comfortable.

Why would you risk getting injured when you can work these significant muscles with no hassle?

Get started today. No excuses!


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25833903/
  2. https://www.statpearls.com/articlelibrary/viewarticle/17189/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11292035/

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