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Hip Adduction and Hip Abduction Machines

Dr. Darden,

In your early nautilus books you incorporate the two machines in various workout routines, hip adduction and abduction…however in your latest books you do not…is there a reason?

I have seen these machines used quite extensively with women and very rarely used by men…why do you think this is?

I personally have never used these machines, but I plan to incorporate them for variety, are they effective or are they a waste of time and effort?

The Hip Adduction and Hip Abduction machines are effective when used properly. I often apply them prior to doing the Leg Press, as they work well in a pre-exhaustion manner.


As a high school football strength coach, when I first put the combo Hip AB/ADD machine in our weight room the other assistants asked me why I put a women’s machine in there. That’s how I think it’s viewed by most guys. I explained: What muscles does an athlete use when they do a lateral shuffle? Outer hip and inner thigh (groin). We did tend to use Adduction more than abduction. To strengthen the groin muscles and enhance flexibility.

On alternate days, as Dr. Darden stated, we’d do a set of hip abduction supersetted with leg press to emphasize the glutes. Nowadays, coaches have athletes do a lateral shuffle with band resistance. Practical and cheaper, but not as effective IMO.


Great comment


I use a military web belt (very strong) with release buckle for static abduction, and yoga blocks for adduction!

I pre-exhaust ONE of these immediately before the Nautilus Leverage leg press. I rotate add/and!

I like statics on the leg press in the leverage advantage position.

I like long TUT for legs

Isometric Adductor Squeeze - YouTubeimage

I do both with Timed static contractions too, my lower body feels fantastic at nearly 57 years old except for some stiffness after sitting for a while. What TUL do you use?

I have wondered if hip adductors and abductors really need to be worked over a full range of motion. They certainly operate over a range of motion, but I don’t think they normally experience high loads at the extremes. Often seem to act more like stabilizers. Maybe isometrics are good enough?

Up to 3 minutes

As to why women seem to be fond of the ab/add machines, I found some reasonable info in an article that the following link will take you to ---- Why Women Love the Hip Abductor Machine » Scary Symptoms. Note: There is nothing ‘scary’ about the stuff in the article.

Jesse Lee

Just inaccurate! The gluteus Maximus is involved in adduction and abduction, and not just the smaller muscles of the hips.

When I was in my forties and was squating fairly heavy, 495lbs for 2 sets of 10 reps, it would seem that every 6 to 8 months I would get pain in my tensor fasciae latae to the point I had to back off the weight for a few weeks. The gym had an adduction machine and an abduction machine that I had never bothered using.

I decided that maybe if I could strengthen my TFL’s I might avoid the pain I would get. So at the end of my thigh routine I decided to train my TFL muscles. I used the adduction machine to stretch my groin to increase my range of motion on the abduction machine. I had worked up to using the entire weight stack from an extremely wide stretch. After 3 sets of 8 reps on the adduction machine I would switch to the abduction machine where I used much lighter weight doing 3 sets of 8 reps, where I held the flexed position for about 3 seconds. I figured the TFL was a stabilizing muscle and thought holding the flexed position might be the best strategy.

Once I started training on the adduction and abduction machines, I never again experienced TFL pain doing squats.

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Thanks for pointing that out. A lot of women strive to get a bigger butt – so maybe they know that they can get that working out on those machines. :slight_smile:

Interesting. I’ve had pain there for weeks now and couldn’t figure out why. It was in my left leg and then in my right now. It’s tolerable but hurts during squatting and leg pressing. Is there something I can do with bands? I don’t have an abduction or addiction machine.

You could definitely get similar results as the abduction machine with bands. Sit on a bench (or chair) with feet flat on the floor. Put the bands around your thighs just above the knees. Slowly spread your legs as wide as you can and hold the flexed position for 3 seconds. The wider you are able to spread your legs might require you to hold the bands so they don’t roll up your thighs.

IMO, you don’t need extreme resistance, but it should begin to get difficult the latter reps to hold flex for 3 seconds.

I used the adduction machine to stretch my groin muscles so I could get wider on the abduction machine in the flexed position.

I’ve had outer hip pain from squatting on and off over the past couple of years. I had decided, based on symptoms, that I probably was having issues with gluteal tendinopathy (Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome). The best PT articles that I could find suggested doing isometric abduction exercises to help the tendon remodel. And those did seem to help. Split squat type movements also helped. I also tried, for a time, the hip abduction machine. But using a wider range of motion via that machine didn’t seem that helpful.

My question is how did you decide your issue was with the TFL, rather than some other kind of hip issue? I had never heard of the TFL before your post, but when I googled it, some of the symptoms for TFL pain seemed similar to those described for issues with the glute tendons and bursa. My impression is that diffuse hip pains can sometimes be difficult to diagnose.

Please keep in mind my self diagnosis was in the late 1980’s. I felt pain in my tensor fasciae latae. That is where it hurt. I concluded it was that particular muscle and not referred pain. I could very well have been the hip joint and not the TFL. I am no doctor. But the implementation of the abductor machine correlated with the end of pain, where I could continue squatting pain free. Was the addition of the abductor machine the cause that cured the pain? Being a sample size of one, I could never say with any certainty.

So it sounds like localized pain, clearly associated with soft tissue in the vicinity of the TFL…

Men could learn much from women about training!
Women want a shapely backside, not a bigger one!
Generally only men think bigger is better!image

As generalities go, I am in total agreement. I can’t think of a single time I went to the gym where that wasn’t front and center in my mind.

I agree with you. Lateral movement is important in a lot of different sports. I come from a basketball background and it’s crucial to strengthen those muscles for basketball. I’d also add that if you’ve ever had a pulled groin muscles it’s easy to see that injury prevention is another valid reason to have these two movements in your routine.