Cable Hip Abduction
If you do not have access to a machine, you can use a low cable pulley to work the abductor muscles (outer thigh). Cables are another effective means of overloading muscles throughout a full range of motion. For instance, in the cable hip abduction exercise the cable allows a full range of motion with constant resistance through various directions. Because of this, cables are great for mimicking sport performance training movements as well as for rehabilitative exercises.
How to Perform Cable Hip Abductions Using Perfect Form?
STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Stand on one leg with the ankle cable of the low pulley machine attached to your other ankle bone (leg furthest away from cable). Stand so that you are facing perpendicularly to the resistance. The standing leg should be raised 2-5 cm (1-2 in) off the ground. Place the hand closest to the cable machine on the machine hand rest. Stand far enough from the machine to ensure tension on the cable. Keep your posture aligned.
MOVEMENT (ACTION): Slowly and with control abduct the hip, moving the outer leg laterally away from your body. Push your leg away from the midline of your body as far as possible, until your hip position can no longer be maintained or is beginning to be compromised. Pause, slowly lower the leg, then repeat. Swap and repeat with the other leg.
Cable Hip Abduction Tips & Tricks For Good Form
- Use a low weight and focus on contracting from the gluteus medius and minimus.
- Keep your hips centred over the vertical centre – line of your body: engage the abdominal muscles.
- Your foot should move directly away from your body, in an arc to the side and up.
- Look for your feet to remain parallel during the movement.
- Avoid allowing your thigh to rotate externally, or your hips to twist while lifting your leg.
- Work slowly and avoid momentum.
- Avoid over-abducting your hips.
- Maintain a neutral spine position.
Muscles Engaged in Cable Hip Abductions
Main mobilizing muscles: gluteus medius and minimus, tensor fasciae latae
Main stabilizing muscles: the mam stabilizers of the trunk are the abdominal group, erector spinae, quadratus lumborum and muscles of the fixed leg.
Exercise Variations (Replacement Exercises)
- Seated Hip Abduction
- Standing Machine Hip Abduction
- Resistance Tubing Hip Abductions. Loop an anchored resistance band around your right ankle. Keeping both legs nearly straight and without moving your upper body, lift your right leg out and to the side as far as you can. Slowly return to the starting position, keeping your muscles under tension for the entire set. Complete all repetitions on the right side before switching sides.
All of these exercises can be found in our glute & hip exercise database.
It is almost impossible to isolate the abductor muscles with free weights. This is a situation in which machines are very handy. If no machine is available, you can substitute with a cable (cable hip abduction), but abductor machines are easier to master (seated hip abduction or standing machine hip abduction). Cable hip abduction belongs in the isolated, single-joint exercise category because only the hip joints are mobilized during the movement.