What are Hip Abductions? (A guide to hip abductions)

What are hip abductions

What are hip abductions?

Hip abductions are a resistance exercise that target the Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus. These are muscles that are not really activated to a high degree with squats, deadlifts or gluteal isolation exercises

Hip abductions can be performed on a dedicated machine, with cables, resistance bands or just bodyweight as part of a circuit. 

Which muscles are targeted with hip abductions?

Hip abductions activate the Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus muscles. These are two of the minor muscles in the posterior region compared to the Gluteus Maximus but they do contribute to both strength and aesthetics. 
Hips anatomy

There are several advantages to developing the Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus.
  • Improved aesthetic. If you are a bodybuilder, wellness competitor or just want a toned butt, developing these muscles will help you to achieve that.
  • Performing regular hip abductions will give you great hip flexibility and strength. This is great for athletes who need strong hips for heavy lifts or explosive power for sprints etc...
  • Well developed glutes contribute to good posture and core stability for better general health and wellbeing. 
  • Strong glutes can help prevent back pain and back-related injuries.

How do I use a hip abduction machine?

Hip abduction machines are the best way to work your Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus. They totally isolate the target muscles allowing you to ensure great connection. 

Using a machine makes it easier to adjust the resistance making it easy to pyramid up to working sets or perform drop sets.

How do I use a hip abduction machine

  1. Adjust the seat height and knee pads to allow a comfortable stance.
  2. Select your weight from the stack. Start low and pyramid up to working sets.
  3. Sit on the machine, grip the handles for stability, tuck your knees into the pads and place your feet on the rests. 
  4. Take a deep breath. Upon exhale, force the knee pads outwards with an explosive motion. Start with a narrow spread but get wider as your hips and hamstrings warm-up for your working sets. 
  5. Use a slow movement to return to the starting position. 
  6. Try to not let the knees come together or the weight stack to crash down. As the weight stack comes down, lift it again before it touches to keep tension on the target muscles. 

How do I do cable hip abductions?

Cable hip abductions are performed on a cable station with an ankle strap. They target exactly the same muscles as a seated abduction machine but as it is a standing movement, a few other stabilisers are also activated in the core and legs. 
How do I do a cable hip abduction
  1. Attach an ankle strap to a low placed cable and strap it on. 
  2. Select your weight from the stack. Start low and pyramid up to your working sets.
  3. Stand sideways on and hold on to the machine for stability. 
  4. Keeping a straight spine and a straight leg, lift the working leg out to the side. Start with a narrow lift and get wider as you warm up for your working sets. 
  5. Use a smooth and controlled motion for both the lifting and lowering of the leg.
  6. For a wider range of motion, you can stand a bit further from the machine and cross the working leg over the standing leg. 
If you do not have a cable machine, you can replicate the movement with a resistance band. 
How do I do a banded hip abduction
The resistance band can be placed around the knees, around the ankles or attached to a wall pin. 

How do I do bodyweight hip abductions?

Bodyweight hip abductions are great for adding to a leg or ab circuit. Even though they do not use as much resistance as the other methods, they can still have the same benefits if attention is placed on strict form and slow, controlled movement. 

Bodyweight hip abductions can be performed in the standing position, as with a cable abduction, or in a lying or kneeling position. 
Thera-Band Loop Hip Abduction in Sidelying
A lying hip abduction activated the same muscles as a hip abduction machine or cable hip abduction. By lying down, you are removing the use of stabilising muscles making it easier to focus on connection with the target muscle. 

Make sure that your leg is lifted in a sideways motion and that the gluteal muscles are taking the strain. By twisting slightly and lifting the leg in a forward motion, you will be activating the abdominal and quad muscles instead so strict form is essential. 

As with most resistance exercises, using an explosive positive motion along with a slow, controlled negative motion will produce the best results in terms of strength, power and muscle mass. 

Kneeling hip abductions are another way to work the Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus. They can be used in a circuit or as a stand-alone accessory exercise. 

kneeling hip abductions

Kneeling hip abductions are often referred to as 'dirty dogs' or 'fire hydrants' as they replicate a dog cocking a leg. If you have no machine, cable or resistance bands, these bodyweight exercises are a great alternative. 

Take away

We hope that you have found this article informative and it has answered the question - what are hip abductions? Please check out some of our free workout plans by clicking on the menu at the top of this page. 

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