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Strengthen your inner and outer thighs with the right moves.
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When you walk into a gym, you'll find exercise machines of every shape and size that can be used to work nearly every single muscle group in your body, including the hip abductors and adductors. This machine requires you to straddle the leg levers to work the target muscles, leaving you in a rather vulnerable position. Despite the awkwardness, the actual effectiveness of the hip abduction and adduction machine is up for debate.
Two for One
The hip abduction and adduction is a machine that undergoes a slight modification to work the adductor muscle groups on your inner thighs and the abductor muscle groups on the outside of your hips. To work the abductors, place your legs inside the pads and press outward against them, working against the resistance. Adjust the machine as necessary and position your legs on the outside of the pads. Press into the pads to draw your legs together to work your adductor muscles.
Not so Functional
One of the biggest problems with the hip abduction and adduction machine is that the movements you perform on it are not movements you would perform in real life. In other words, they are not functional movements. The abductor and adductor muscle groups are primarily used as stabilizer muscles when you stand, walk, run and simply move throughout your day. The machine forces you to sit, taking the rest of the working muscles like the gluteus maximus, hamstrings and quads out of play.
Strengthen, It Does
The one thing the hip abduction and adduction machine does effectively is strengthen the target muscles, however, this is not necessarily a good thing. Because these muscles act as stabilizers, they are not meant to be extraordinarily strong but rather are made to support the larger and stronger quads, hamstrings and glutes. Isolating the muscles with heavy weights and a limited range of motion, which is what is offered by the machine, can lead to muscle imbalances and possible joint issues down the road. If you prefer isolation exercises, ensure you work every muscle group equally to avoid potential problems.
You're Not the Boss
Some believe that using the hip abduction and adduction machine will result in sleek, slender thighs; unfortunately, that is not the case. The machine does have the potential to strengthen your muscles, but when it comes to fat loss, you have no control over where the fat comes from - working your legs will not make you lose weight in your legs. All parts of your body work together as one fluid machine. When you exercise and burn calories, the resulting fat loss comes from your body as a whole rather than one specific area. To state it simply, spot-reduction is a myth, and the only way to get leaner thighs is to work your entire body.
Consider Effective Alternatives
If you want your trip to the gym to be effective and efficient, it wouldn't be a bad idea to consider several alternatives to the hip abduction and adduction machine. Compound movements such as the squat, sumo squat, lunges, side lunges and kettlebell swings dynamically strengthen your abductors and adductors along with the rest of your muscles in your legs. If you're still stuck on isolation work, give cable abduction and adduction exercises a try. They have the same concept as the machine but incorporate a much more natural movement and allow you to move your legs through their full range of motion, strengthening the entirety of the muscles.