The hip abductors are composed of four muscles, and they are responsible for moving your leg out to the side and away from the center of your body. Strengthening these muscles can benefit your workouts regardless of the exercise you do, but it is particularly beneficial for stabilizing your hips while running and walking. While hip abduction exercises require the same general movement, there are several variations you can incorporate to challenge the muscles and keep the move from getting stale.
Dumbbell Lying Hip Abduction
Lie on your right side, legs straight and in line with your body, feet stacked. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand and rest it on top of your left thigh. Raise your left leg straight up into the air until it forms a 45-degree angle with the rest of your body; make sure your leg and not your arm is bearing the weight of the dumbbell. Lower your leg to the starting position and complete 12 to 15 reps before switching to the other side.
Bent-Knee Side Bridge Hip Abduction
Lie on your right side with your legs stacked, your thighs in line with your body and your knees bent in 90-degree angles behind you. Raise up onto the elbow of your right arm so your forearm is supporting your body. Raise your hips off the floor as you lift your left leg up in the air at a 45-degree angle; at the top of the move, your right arm and right knee will be bearing your weight. Lower your hips and left leg back down to the starting position. Complete 12 to 15 reps before switching to the other side.
Cable Hip Abduction
Standing next to a low-cable machine, attach the cuff to the ankle farthest from the machine. Place the cuffed foot across your body, bringing it closer to the machine. Balancing on your opposite leg, raise the cuffed leg out to the side of your body as far as possible without shifting your hips or leaning; you may need to hold onto a bar or the machine for balance. Return the cuffed leg to the starting position. Do 12 to 15 reps on each leg.
Standing Hip Abduction
Loop one end of a resistance band around your right ankle and step on the other end with your left foot, keeping your feet about hip-width apart; you can make the exercise easier by increasing the distance between your feet, or make it tougher by bringing them closer together before stepping on the band. Slowly raise your right leg out to your right side as high as you can. Return to the starting position and complete 12 to 15 reps before switching to the left leg.
Kristen Fisher is a freelance writer and editor with professional experience in both print and online media. She has published articles on a wide variety of topics including health, fitness, nutrition, home and food, and her work has appeared in "Connections Magazine" and on Lifescript.com. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in psychology.