When considering lower body workouts, some of the most popular exercises tend to concentrate on certain muscle groups such as the quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
And why would they not? This group includes some of the most noticeable areas on your lower body, so of course, this is where you are going to focus most of your efforts.
By just focusing on these areas, however; you may be missing out on some other spots on your lower body that are just as important to your overall fitness, such as your hip adductor muscles.
Your hip adductor muscles include the inner thigh muscles that help provide balance and support to your hips and thighs and move them toward the center of your body. Hip adductor strength is important as this muscle group can help reduce groin injuries (i.e., adductor tendinopathy), allow you to rotate and move your lower body around easier, and even improve your hip extension.
There are several ways to ensure safe and effective adductor muscle activity without any fancy equipment or the adductor machine at the gym. If you want to build strength in your hip muscles and prevent injury, then follow along with the hip adduction exercises discussed below to give those inner thigh muscles a good workout.
Before Getting Started
- If you are recovering from an adductor or groin injury, make sure to talk to your doctor before you perform these adductor exercises.
- Listen to your body and do not push it beyond its limits. If you feel any pain, stop.
Hip Adductor Exercises
Copenhagen Side Plank
Equipment: Bench or box
- Start by getting into a side plank position. With the bench at your feet, lie on one side and raise yourself onto one elbow, which should be bent at about 90 degrees.
- Raise your top leg and rest your foot and ankle on the bench while your bottom leg lies under the bench. If you find the top leg is uncomfortable, place a rolled-up towel or mat between it and the bench.
- Now push your hips off of the floor so you are in a side plank. Your bottom leg should be hovering off the floor at this point. As with any plank, your body should be in a straight line. Engage those glutes and do not let those hips sag!
- Try and hold at the top for about 30 seconds, then release.
- Repeat the exercise a few times then switch sides to work the opposite adductor muscles.
*Note: For an extra challenge, prop yourself up on your hand instead of your elbow and extend the other arm out so your body forms a T. Or if you need to make this easier, rest more of your lower body on the bench. Instead of having just the ankle on the bench, try repositioning so that your lower leg is resting on the bench.
Side Leg Raises
- Lie on one side. You can use your hand or a cushion for head support.
- Extend your top leg out straight and slowly lift it as high as possible.
- Hold at the top for a few seconds, then slowly bring it back down.
- Do 2-3 sets of about 10 reps, then switch sides.
*Note: If you want an extra challenge, loop a resistance band around your thighs while performing this exercise.
- With your knees bent and legs together, lie on one side. Again, use your hand or a cushion to support your head.
- With feet touching, slowly open your legs by lifting just your top leg. Make sure your bottom leg stays on the floor.
- Hold at the top for a few seconds, then slowly lower your leg back down.
- Complete 2-3 sets of about 10 reps on one side before switching to the other side.
*Note: Again, for an extra challenge you can loop a resistance band around your thighs.
- Get down on all fours, with hands directly below your shoulders and knees directly below each hip.
- While evenly distributing the weight between your hands and one leg, slowly lift the other leg away from your body. Make sure to keep your knee bent.
- Raise it as high as you can, hold for a couple of seconds, then slowly bring your leg back to your all fours starting position.
- Do 2-3 sets of about 10 reps on one side before moving to the other.
*Note: These are called fire hydrants because it looks like a dog lifting its leg to pee!
- Stand with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart. Your toes should be pointing forward or outwards just a bit.
- Now, start bending into a squat while shifting all of your weight to one side. Remember to hinge at the hip, engage your core, and try to keep your back straight. The leg you are moving towards should be bent at the knee and the other leg should be extended straight out at the other side.
- Only go down as far as feels comfortable. Do not overdo it, as this squat challenges your hip mobility and provides a good inner thigh stretch. Be mindful of adductor strain or groin pain.
- Hold for a couple of seconds, then push back up through your feet to return to the starting position. Switch sides.
- Complete about 2-3 sets of 10 reps per side.
*Note: Though this can be a challenge by itself, you can consider holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in your hands while completing these squats if you want more of a workout.
Single-Leg Glute Bridge
Equipment: Medicine ball or foam roller
- Lie down with your back on the floor and each knee bent, feet flat, and arms at your sides. Put your medicine ball or foam roller between your legs.
- Straighten one leg and lift it up off the floor.
- Now, lift your hips off the floor while squeezing the ball or roller between your legs. Remember to engage your core and tighten your glutes.
- Hold for a few seconds at the top, then slowly lower back down to the starting position.
- Try for 2-3 sets of 10 reps per side.
*Note: You should feel this in your adductors and glutes, not your lower back. If you are feeling this in your lower back, adjust your position.