Seated Hip Abduction

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Seated Hip Abduction (Machine Hip Abductions)

Seated hip abduction isolates the muscles located on the lateral side of your thighs and the buttocks. The job of the abductors is to move your thigh away from the midline (central axis) of the body. It may make your hip joint less prone to injury and it is useful addition is sport disciplines where jumping and sprinting are involved. Golfers also benefit from strong and developed abductors because these muscles help shift body weight during the swing. When the weight is on one leg, these muscles act to prevent the pelvis from dropping down on the opposite side or they support femur from excessively adducting (“sitting in the hip”).

Two kinds of machines are available today to perform the lateral hip abduction. One, in which you are seated, allows you to work both legs simultaneously. The other machine allows you to train in a standing position. In this post we will focus on seated version.

Seated Hip Abduction Exercise Guide

STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Sit on the abductor machine and adjust the height of the seat so that the sides of your knees or ankles (depending on the design) rest comfortably against the pads. On some machines your will have to sit down with your feet on the foot pegs so that the knees are bent at 90 degrees.

Seated Hip Abduction - Machine Hip Abduction

Seated Hip Abduction – Machine Hip Abduction

MOVEMENT (ACTION): Hold the handles, and with a slow, controlled motion, move the pads out (open your legs) by pushing with the knees or an ankles (depending on the design) until the legs reach the farthest outward position. Slowly return to the starting position without letting the resistance rest on the weight stack between repetitions.

Seated Hip Abduction Additional Tips & Tricks

  • The more angled the backrest, the more the gluteus medius is isolated. The more vertical the backrest, the more the gluteus maximus is worked.
  • Positioning the back horizontally is ideal for stabilizing the hips, although this reduces the range of motion by a few degrees.
  • Some abductor machines have you keep your legs straight, whereas others have you bend your legs to 90 degrees. If you are a beginner, these latter machines are preferable because they are gentler on the knees and because you are less likely to overstretch your abductor muscles with your legs bent.

Muscles Engaged in Seated Hip Abduction

The lateral muscles of the hip (abductor muscle group) include the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae

Main muscle groups: gluteus medius, gluteal deltoid (tensor fasciae latae and superficial fibers of the gluteus maximus)
Secondary muscle groups: gluteus minimus, piriformis, internal obturator, gemelli, gastrocnemius, sartorius
Antagonists: adductors (great, long, short, smallest), pectineus

Exercise Variations

All of the lateral hip abduction variations are very similar. Their main differences relate only to the degree of resistance placed on the glute muscles and to the range of motion of the movement.

  • On a pulley machine, use the lower pulley. While standing sideways to the machine at the low pulley station, hook the foot that is farthest from the machine into the handle (or use an ankle strap), and pull your leg away from the machine.

Closing Thoughts

Seated hip abduction sculpts and firm the top of the hip, which makes the waistline look narrower. Also, machine hip abductions are highly suitable for both beginners and advanced bodybuilders and there is no particular risk of any contact between the hip bones, unlike the more common standing variant (standing hip abductions with low cable or standing multi-pulley machine abductions).

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