An abductor muscle is any muscle which transports a body part away from the body’s midline or sagittal dimension (which splits the body vertically into right and left halves). This type of undertaking is known as abduction. Abductor muscles are located throughout the human body, from noticeable positions like the outer thigh, to less anticipated places, for instance the eyeball. They work in collaboration with adductor muscles, which move body parts back in the direction of the midline. Commonly, the term abductor muscle is associated with the hip area, a place of recurrent and throbbing injuries for athletes. The hip abductors encompass a system of four muscles, namely the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius
, the gluteus minimus
, and the tensor fasciae latae. Working together, they serve to abduct the thigh at the hip joint.
Exercises to strengthen the hip abductor muscles can help to diminish the chance of leg injury stemming from physical activity. In unison with the adductors, the abductors maintain the stability of the lower body whilst also ensuring proper traction of the knee during movement. Even the slightest weakness in either of these can alter the traction of the knee, causing a hefty amount of damage to the fragile joints within the knee.
So, what is the best approach for training these muscles? Well, in an ideal world training them as a group is functionally superior to training them in isolation. However, there is no harm in auxiliary exercises based on isolating them individually. As a result, an example of both a great compound and isolation exercise for this important group of muscles is provided below.
Compound Exercise – The Squat
The basic full squat is the overall best lower body strengthening exercise as it engages all the individual muscles and trains them in a functional manner (in unison) that mimics typical human movement. For overall development, a foot stance shoulder-width apart with toes pointed out slightly is recommended. However, it one wanted to place an emphasis on the outer thigh, then what you could do is place your feet close together (within shoulder-width) with the toes pointed straight.
Isolation Exercise – Thigh Abductor/Outer Thigh Machine
In order to isolate and train the abductors individually, there really is no better way to do this than to make use of the outer thigh machine. As the name clearly implies, the movement allowed by this machine is restricted to moving the legs away from the midline of the body. As one of the primary functions of the various abductor muscles is to do just that, the thigh abductor machine is one piece of hardware that cannot be overlooked!