Not-So-Gross Anatomy: Hip Abductors and Adductors


As the royal artist, Sir Mix-A-Lot once put it, "I like large abductors and I cannot lie." 

What was that? That's not how the song goes? As a nerd of science, that is exactly how I hear that song!

I wish there was a hidden track talking about adductors with such adoration as well - but I digress....

This week's installment of Not-So-Gross Anatomy looks a bit at the booty and groin, the ass and inner thighs, affectionately known as the hip abductors and hip adductors.

New to the terminology of abduction and adduction? Abduction is the movement of taking away from the midline of the body. ADDuction is the movement of adding, or moving towards the midline of the body (Props to Dr. Street back at St. Cloud State University for the anatomy class back in the day of beepers and payphones).


The glutes (minimus, and medius) and the tensor fasciae latae (aka TFL) are the primary hip abductors. For today's post we will also include the glute maximus. While the maximus is a hip extensor, it is also present as a stabilizer for the integrity of the hip.

Hip abductors.jpg


The adductor group is made up of several muscles including adductor magnus, adductor brevis, adductor longis, pectineus, and gracilis. 


Adductor magnus originates along the ischial tuberosity and all of the remaining adductors originate on the pubis. They all attach along the linea aspera on the femur. While they are all not necessarily large muscles individually, they make a formidable group due to their compact origin.

Hip abductors and adductors play a significant role in unilateral training. When both feet are planted on the ground, the legs can rely on each other to provide an element of stability. By taking one leg off the ground, stability becomes more challenged and now the adductors and abductors are fighting to help keep the leg in check and balanced.

If you have any desire to move laterally, abductors and adductors are critical in allowing that to become a reality.As you step to the side while performing a lateral lunge, the leg that is stepping out is engaging the abductors to make this happen. The stationary leg is being straightened and the adductor group is being fired up in an eccentric fashion as well. 

See the demo of the lateral lunge. Click on the closed-captioning if you want the breakdown even further.

So let's talk about movements. Isolation of these groups can be done using the tried and true hip abduction and hip adduction machines. Side lying leg raises have some value as well. But I want to get into a few movement patterns to help keep movements integrated and provide the client more activation of muscle groups. Think of it like a good happy hour for your body. More muscles in same amount of time equals a happy camper!

Abductor mobility hinges greatly (total cheesy pun intended) on the IT band. As the TFL resides along the IT Band - if the IT is tight, the functionality of the TFL  is off. Translation....roll your IT band please!



Strength Training:


There are countless movement patterns to put the ab & adductors to the test, but here are some of movements I like to pull out and put in play with clients when deemed appropriate.

If you are looking for programming, look no further than b3 wellness. Customized and built around what you have access to. 

Thank you again for stopping by and giving this week's blog the ol' once over. Follow us on FB, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Be Fit. Be Fueled. Be Full of Life. b3 Wellness.

!Hasta Pronto!

Don Bahneman 

p.s. - the videos shot were done so at the best kept secret in Northern Virginia - The Energy Club 

p.p.s. - The picture at the top of this blog is not actually my ass, in case you were wondering ;-)