Hip abductor exercises can be performed with or without a machine. Two exercises that no machine is needed for are hip abductors on a stability ball or bench and side leg lifts. There are also two resistance-training machines that will strengthen your abductors: one seated and one standing. The primary muscles you are utilizing when performing hip abduction include the tensor fasciae latae, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and sartorius. Consult your physician prior to starting a new exercise program.
Hip Abduction on a Stability Ball or Bench
Hip abduction exercises can be performed on a stability ball, a bench or even a chair if you do not have access to equipment. With this exercise, in addition to working your abductors, you will also be working your quadriceps, since you have to hold the leg up, and your adductors, since you have to pull the leg back in front of the body. To perform the exercise, start in a seated position, keeping your chest out and shoulders back, and raise one leg in front of your body. Abduct that leg by opening the hips, and then bring your leg back to center. Continue to open the leg out to the side, then pull it back in. If you perform this exercise on a stability ball, it adds an additional challenge of keeping your balance, but only attempt using an unstable surface if you feel completely comfortable with the exercise.
Side Leg Lifts
Side leg lifts can be performed either lying on the floor or in the standing position. If you have trouble standing on one leg, lying on the floor may be a better option. To perform the side leg lift lying on the floor, lie on your side with one leg on top of the other. Abduct the leg by raising the leg up toward the ceiling. If you have trouble getting up and down from the floor, you may prefer the standing position. To perform the side leg lift from the standing position, hold on to a solid object and abduct the leg by raising it out to the side. If these exercises are not difficult enough with only the resistance of your leg, strap on an ankle weight.
Seated Hip Abduction Machine
The seated hip abduction machine is a good option if you would like to get the exercise done quicker because you are performing the exercise with both legs at the same time, whereas all of the other exercises are performed with one leg at a time. To use the seated hip abduction machine, sit on the seat with your legs together in front of your body. Adjust the knee pads so they are against the outsides of your knees. Keeping your chest out and shoulders back, spread your knees apart, then slowly bring them back together. Keep your movements slow and controlled throughout the entire exercise.
Many different leg exercises can be performed on the multi-hip machine, so it may be convenient for you to choose this option if you would like to stay at one machine to perform multiple exercise in your workout. One exercise that can be performed on the multi-hip machine is hip abduction. Adjust the machine so the pad is down by the leg and the lever connecting the pad to the machine is vertical. Stand on the platform with the pad on the outside of one of your legs and grasp the handles at your sides. Standing straight, abduct the leg by raising it out to the side, then slowly lower the leg.
- Strength and Conditioning Journal: Importance of Comprehensive Hip Strengthening
- American Council on Exercise: Side Lying Hip Abduction
- ExRx.net: Lever Standing Hip Abduction
Jacquelyn Slater is a certified strength-and-conditioning specialist and group fitness instructor. Slater earned a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Slippery Rock University and a Master of Sciece in health and fitness from the University of Pittsburgh. She currently serves as the health and wellness director at the Titusville YMCA.