How to Strengthen Your Adductors Without Machines
The epicenter of power and strength in humans is at our hips. Lack the ability to extend the hips both forcefully and efficiently, and you will not be strong or powerful. However, power cannot occur without first developing stability. It’s like trying to run on ice. So, training the prime movers is not enough, we must also give attention to the stabilizers so that our body has a launching pad from which to create power.
Enter, the adductor family, a series of four muscles located on the inner leg that helps contribute to both pelvic and knee stability.
Here’s the rub. It’s very hard to isolate the adductors without a machine since they are never the prime target of knee or hip flexion and extension. They get work, but not like that alpha quads, glutes, and hams. We have to “hack” some of those movements in order to bypass the big guys and get benefit, and the easiest way to better target the adductors in the land of functional, compound movements is range of motion. Because part of the adductors attach at the knee, the lower we go on our squat, the more we target it.
Here are movements that will help you target and strengthen them.
- Deep, High Rep Squats – Because part of the adductor family attaches at the knee, the lower you go and the more the knee flexes, the more you will target it. If you reinforce “knees caving” at heavier weight, they will never strengthen. Go light on these, somewhere around 50% of your max.
- Assign a Tempo – Among the many reasons we like tempo squats, targeted work on the adductors is high among them. By moving low and slow on the ascent and descent, we allow full range of them and we don’t allow the bigger, badder glutes and quads to dominate the movement through speed. Speed tends to bypass the adductors.
- Sumo Stance Deadlifts and Squats – We all know the sumo deadlift, but let me introduce you to the sumo squat. Set up in exactly the same manner, but flex at the knee so that the movement pattern turns from a hinge to a squat.
You can also perform a Sumo Back Squat by simply widening the stance. Just be careful as some find this irritating on the hips. Just make sure you don’t sacrifice width for depth too much.
- Cossack Squats – When performing these, I’d like your toes to elevate off the ground in the leg that extends out to the wide. This will allow greater range of motion at the hips and knee in the leg that is “squatting” and that’s the entire point. You’ll get some a nice side bonus of some productive ankle mobility here, as well.
- Curtsy Lunges – One of my favorites for the adductors, targeting them through internal rather than external rotation. Most all of these are externally rotated movements, so this provides some nice balance.
- Med Ball Squeeze – So does this. In a supine bridge position with your hips elevated, place a Med Ball between your legs and try to crush it for 10-20 seconds at a time.
Squat lower and lighter, mix up your pulling stance, and add in some of the variations listed in the articles for stronger adductors, and healthier, more powerful hips.
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