12 Hip Abductor Exercises to Seriously Work Your Lateral Butt

Weak lateral gluteal muscles can hamper single-leg strength and cause your knees to buckle (a movement known as valgus) when you walk, squat, or perform other movements. Valgus puts a lot of stress on the knees and can ultimately lead to injury to that joint, Williams says. For one, it can contribute to IT band syndrome, a condition that can cause sharp pain on the outside of the knee.

It can also lead to even lower problems in your kinetic chain: weak hip abductors can increase the risk of ankle injuries, especially when running. The small muscles along the side of your butt help keep you steady and balanced as you walk on uneven surfaces, which helps prevent twisting or twisting your ankle, according to the American Council on Exercise.

Also, when your abductors don’t activate and stabilize as they should, other joints and muscles can step in to compensate, says Fagin. For example, if the gluteus medius isn’t doing its job keeping the hip stable, the hip flexors can take over some of that work, which can ultimately lead to strain and injury.

How to work the hip abductors at home

When you hear “hip abductor exercises,” you may picture the classic gym hip abductor machine: the chair equipped with weighted pads that you press with your knees. While this move is extremely common, it’s not really the most functional way to work these muscles, says Fagin. After all, there are virtually no scenarios in daily life where you’d be flexing your hips and pressing your knees simultaneously.

A better way to strengthen your adductors? Focus on simple movements that involve bringing your legs out to the side and away from your body. Examples include shells, fire hydrants, side lunges, curtsy lunges, and side leg raises. You can also incorporate unilateral moves like single-leg deadlifts, reverse lunges, and single-legged squats to challenge the stability of those muscles, Fagin says.

Now, you may notice that many common hip abductor movements use mini bands or resistance bands. That’s because these portable tools are easy ways to add external resistance to an exercise, making it more challenging than bodyweight alone, says Fagin. Many band movements can also be done with a cable machine or ankle weights, but for many people, a mini band or resistance band is the most affordable option for progress. That said, if you’re just starting out, it’s smart to do the movements with just your bodyweight at first. Then, once you’ve mastered proper form, you can progress by adding resistance or weights.

When it comes to incorporating abductor exercises into your routine, you don’t need to dedicate an entire workout to them. You can add a move or two to each session, Fagin advises. For movements like lateral lunges, curtsy lunges, single-legged deadlifts, and reverse lunges where you can easily add a lot of external load in the form of free weights, aim to go heavy and keep the number of repetitions lower, for example. , make four. sets of eight if your goal is to build muscle, or four sets of six if you want to build strength. For moves that use resistance bands, like shells, fire hydrants, and side steps, aim for three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions to work your muscular endurance.

Fagin also recommends incorporating band movements as part of a warm-up, since activating those muscles is very important for the rest of your workout. Many movements, from running to biking to strength training, require the use of the abductors, so firing them correctly beforehand can help reduce the risk of injury, Fagin explains.

The best exercises for hip abductors

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