The Hip Abductor Machine-Worthless Exercise (machine)#2

Yesterday I started commenting on some of the Entirely Useless Exercises that too many people are continuing to do.  The first exercise tackled was the sit-up.

Today, I’m actually going to tackle to useless machines in most commercial gyms: the hip abductor and hip adductor machines. These two are some of the most used items in our gym and I think they are totally useless. Besides, what can possibly be appealling about spreading your legs wide over and over again in the middle of a huge public gym?

The users believe that pressing their thighs out or in against a weight is a good way to strengthen their inner/outer thighs and firm them up (read: make them smaller).  They will spend hours a week working these machines and wondering why they aren’t working.

To me, these machines have problems with their range of motion and their design.  While I may wish to concentrate some of weekly exercise time on my hip adductors/abductors, both these machines seem to stop short of getting me a full range of motion.  Their design limits that first/last motion where the knees actually touch.  They also don’t resemble real life movements.

But what would you do instead?  The best ways to strengthen these muscles?

  1. Lunges. Seriously, you use the abductors/adductors to stabilize yourself when you do a lunge.  Why not do 20 of these instead of spreading your legs on some odd machine?
  2. Step ups to balance. The time in every day when you use these muscles is when you’re stepping up or down.  Step up on a bench and find your balance.  Trust that to do so, you will use these muscles.
  3. Ball-wall squats with a medicine ball between your knees. Yep. Squeeze the ball as you do your wall squats.  It will bring the adductors into play while the squat itself is using your adductors.
  4. Bridges. The mere action of hip bridges brings these muscles in as you stabilize your midsection.

Do you use these machines when you’re in the gym? Find them distasteful or useless?  Care about your inner or outer thigh?

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17 responses to “The Hip Abductor Machine-Worthless Exercise (machine)#2

  1. THANK YOU!!

    and Im giving you an AMEN up in herre as well :)

  2. Agreed!

    I don’t use machines. I workout in my garage with spiders using dumbbells, barbells, and mostly KETTLEBELLS. (Slight kb addict here.)

    Years ago I used to do those ab/adductor machines b/c my inner and outer thighs are the two places on my body that I hold the most fat. Annoying but I know from experience that those things don’t work. If anything they put waaay too much stress on my knees.

  3. These machines play a vital role in strengthening the adductor and abductor muscles in your legs. Why do you ask do these muscles need to be strengthened? Simple answer is your squat. As you increase the weight of your squats, a weak abductor muscle will allow your knees to roll in and shift the work to your quads. This takes the abductor out of the lift and lowers the amount of weight you’ll be able to manage. It can also lead to knee injuries during the same exercise by putting more stress on the knee when the knees roll in.

    • I agree that the muscle groups need working however I disagree that these machines are the best way to do so. Better to do a wide variety of lunges and step ups, or use a cable and ankle strap to work abduction and adduction through a full range of motion. So while we agree that the muscle groups need attention we disagree completely on how these muscles need to be worked.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about information and love learning more on this. If possible,it is very helpful for me.

  5. Great article here. I also do not use these machines and I advise my clients to avoid them. I teach them how to use the cables and lying leg raises in addition to the exercises you mentioned. I wish this piece of equipment would just go away…

  6. These machines do INDEED serve a purpose .. not just the inner and outer thigh muscles, but the Hip area too ! Especially the Abductor Cybex machine. I recently began experiencing right hip tightness and pain, and this is one of the numerous exercises my son (an experienced DPT) recommended, And, more importantly, it helps me !!
    I think that you feel you can strongly and opinionatedly say they are “useless” machines is a real mistake .. and very narrow, one-sided thinking.

    • These are great machines to use in a rehab setting (ie a PT location!). But to use them in a normal gym setting because they are useful in a rehab clinic is a stretch.

      Much more useful for individuals who are healthy is to do X-band side steps, lunges and step ups.

      But then I firmly believe that most people need to exercise by moving away from most machines. The only ones I use are cable machines and the Gravaton. And I’m a 62 year old woman with an artificial hip!

  7. The leg abductor machines at for your gluteus medius muscles. Often overlooked muscles that needs strengthening if you want to do your lunges and squats correctly. Weak gluteus medius can cause knee injuries if you run a lot. If you do the hip abductor correctly(hold for 5 sec and do not drop the weight every cycle) you will feel the burn on your butt. Not your thigh.

  8. They are great for working the glutes! Espesially if one cannot do squats do to a back injury!!

  9. DISAGREE, DISAGREE & DISAGREE!
    I LOVE these machines. I have very small hip bones and have managed to build up the muscle by their use. Finally, my hips look curvaceous! While you may not find them useful, I love what they have done to sculpt my hips.

  10. im interested in increasing my hip area with high weights, low reps. would the abduction machine still be pointless?

  11. As of today, I will no longer use these machines. Thanks, ladies! I’m going to add squats and step-ups into my leg workout routine.

  12. Nah, they’re still useful. Tons of sports utilize those muscles and regardless of whether or not they’re “perfect” enough for some nit-pickers, they still work those muscles. You can definitely feel it while using them. I see no valid reason from this article why someone shouldn’t keep using them. As a life-long soccer player, they’re incredibly valuable machines for strengthening those muscles. I had to laugh when the writer whine about how someone might look using these machines while suggesting that doing a wall squat and squeezing a ball between their legs was somehow more dignified or normal-looking. D’okay… LOL

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