The adductors are often underworked in strength training workouts, and many people aren’t even sure how to strengthen them.
In this article, we will discuss how to structure adductor workouts and give you step-by-step instructions on how to perform the best adductor exercises for building mass and strength in your legs:
Let’s dive in!
How to Strengthen Your Adductors
The adductors are a group of five muscles that run along the inside of your thigh from your groin down toward your knee.
The muscles originate at the bottom of the pelvis on the pubis and ischium and then insert at the bottom of the femur (thigh bone), just above the knee.
The adductor muscles include the adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, gracilis, and pectineus.
As a group, the adductors adduct the leg, which means that they help bring your leg inward towards the midline of your body.
For example, imagine doing jumping jacks such that you jump your legs out towards your side. The adductors then help bring your legs back under your body.
Some of the adductors assist with other functions, such as hip flexion and internal rotation of the hip.
When performing adductor exercises to increase strength, work up to 2-6 sets, 3-5 reps per set, and at least 85% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM) for the load. The fewer reps you perform, the closer to 100% of your 1RM you should aim for with your weights.
If your goal is hypertrophy (muscle growth), strive to perform three sets of each exercise, using loads that are 70 to 85% of your 1RM for 8 to 12 reps
The 5 Best Adductor Exercises To Strengthen Your Adductor Muscles
Here are some of the best adductors exercises to perform in your adductor workouts:
#1: Cossack Squats
Cossack squats are not only one of the best adductor exercises, but this squat variation also strengthens your abductors, the muscles that oppose the adductors.
In this way, Cossack squats are a great way to strengthen your legs in the frontal plane (horizontal plane for side-to-side motion).
You can include this squat variation in your adductor workouts, but it can also be a great warm-up exercise for leg day strength training workout in general because it is typically performed as a bodyweight exercise, and it will activate your adductors, abductors, and hips before you start the heavy lifting.
The Cossack squat is ultimately an excellent exercise to improve hip mobility while strengthening most of the muscles in your lower body.
With that said, when you are doing adductor leg workouts, you can add resistance to this exercise by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell for even more effective adductor strengthening.
Here are the steps for how to perform this adductor exercise:
- Stand upright with good posture, turning your toes outward as if performing a sumo squat, but widen your stance so that your feet are well past shoulder-width apart.
- Shift your weight primarily onto one leg as you sit your hips back and squat down. Lean into that leg while you straighten the opposite leg out to the side, placing your heel on the floor with your toes pointing to the ceiling.
- At the bottom position, press through the supporting leg that is bent to help return to the starting position, pulling the leg that is extended out to the side back to its original position.
- Perform 6 to 12 reps on one side and then switch legs or alternate legs with every rep if you are a beginner.
#2: Cable Hip Adduction
The cable machine can also be an effective tool for strengthening adductor exercises.
With this cable machine adductor exercise, it is best to start with a low-weight high-reps approach and then gradually increase the weight that you are using.
Note that it is also possible to perform this adductor strengthening exercise with a resistance band as long as you have an ankle cuff attachment that you can clip into the carabiner and a suitable low anchor point.
Here are the steps for how to perform this cable machine adductor exercise:
- Clip the ankle cuff attachment onto the cable pulley or resistance band that you are using and set the pulley to the lowest position or attach your resistance band somewhere stable that is just a couple of inches off of the ground.
- Stand to the side of the cable or resistance band so that your body is at a 90° angle to the attachment point with the leg that you are training closest to the machine. This means that the ankle cuff attachment should be secured around the leg that is right next to the cable machine.
- You can brace your body by extending your arm closest to the machine out to the machine or holding onto the wall or somewhere convenient if you are using a resistance band.
- Load your weight onto the opposite leg (the one further from the cable attachment) as you lift up the working leg.
- Keeping your core and glutes tight and maintaining proper posture, pull your leg away from the pulley across the midline of your body towards the outside leg. Make sure to keep the working leg straight.
- Slowly return your leg to the starting position.
- Complete 8 to 15 reps and then switch sides.
#3: Lateral Lunges
Adductor strengthening exercises typically involve lateral movements since the adductors help bring your leg back in towards the center of your body after it has been abducted out to the side.
The lateral lunge is a great way to warm up before adductor workouts. It can also be a great alternative adductor warm-up exercise to the Cossack squat if you do not have enough hip mobility to perform the squat.
However, you can also make lateral lunges more challenging so that they can actually be effective adductor strengthening exercises.
Beginners can perform this as a bodyweight adductor exercise, but as you get stronger, you should add resistance. Holding a single kettlebell or dumbbell tends to work best.
Here are the steps for how to perform this adductor exercise:
- Stand upright, holding a single dumbbell vertically between your two hands or a kettlebell by the horn at chest height.
- Step your right leg out to the side, shifting your weight onto the right leg as you bend the right knee. Keep your left knee straight, and allow the foot to pronate so that your inner foot comes towards the floor.
- Use the adductors and glutes to help pull you back up to the starting position.
- Complete 6-12 reps and then switch sides.
#4: Sumo Squats
The sumo squat position helps activate your adductors, so it’s a good exercise to add to adductor leg workouts.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing about 45 degrees out to the sides and your hips externally rotated. Keep your core engaged, your chest up, and your back straight throughout the exercise.
- Hold a single dumbbell vertically between your two hands or a kettlebell by the horn.
- Sit your hips backward as if reaching your bottom back to sit in a chair.
- Press through your heels to return to the starting position.
- Complete 4-15 slow reps.
#5: Copenhagen Planks
One of the most effective adductors exercises is the Copenhagen plank. Plus, it’s a great core exercise to strengthen your obliques and deep core muscles.
Although this is an advanced adductor strengthening exercise, it can be modified for beginners, as described below.
Here are the steps to perform this adductor exercise:
- Lie on your side with your legs stacked and shoulders stacked.
- You should be positioned so that your body is on the floor perpendicular to the long side of a weight bench.
- Engage your glutes and abs, and place your hand in front of your body on the floor if you need help bracing your body or balancing.
- Rest your top leg on the weight bench. Beginners can place the knee up on the bench, and as you get stronger, remove more of your leg so that just your ankle is resting on the bench. You will need to adjust how far away from the weight bench your body is situated on the floor based on your strength level.
- Press yourself up into the side plank position, resting on your forearm on the arm underneath your body, and lift your hips all the way up so that your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Your lower leg should come off the floor and press upward on the underside of the weight bench, and you should press into the bench on the leg that’s on top (on the bench) to activate your adductors.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds.
There you have it! Our adductor workout for your next trip to the gym!
To learn how to maximize your muscle gains, check out our muscle-building guide here.