Abductor exercises help tone outer thighs.
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The abductors are a set of muscles that open the hips and move the legs away from the center of the body. They are easy to confuse with similar sounding adductors, which control the opposite motion. The importance of training abductor muscles remains a crucial part of controlling balance and maintaining a shapely physique in the thighs and buttocks. There are many ways to train abductors. The most popular are with weight machines, resistance bands and body weight.
Why Train the Abductors?
Besides making legs look shapely and toned, abductor muscles play an important role in balance, stabilization and performance of everyday activities. According to RunningPlanet.com, weak abductors can lead to iliotibial band syndrome, a common running injury. Additionally, weak hip muscles are listed as a major cause of many knee, back and ankle injuries in athletes. The abductors are often overlooked in training routines, yet there are many easy ways to keep these muscles strong and healthy.
Training with Traditional Weight Machines
According to MayoClinic.com, "Machine weights can be effective weight training tools - as long as you use machines that adjust to your body dimensions and allow full range of motion of your joints." Most health clubs offer weight machines that specifically target the abductors. Abductor machines usually require the user to sit with his or her legs together and slowly open and close the thighs with resistance against pads on the outer thighs, to lift and lower a weight stack. To avoid injury, it is important to correctly adjust the machine and select an appropriate weight before attempting the exercise. If you are not sure how to use a weight machine, ask for help from a certified professional trainer before attempting the exercise on your own.
Training with Cable Machines
Aaron Brooks, a biomechanics expert and owner of Perfect Postures in Auburndale, Mass., prefers a different abductor training method. According to Shape.com, Brooks suggests using a cable machine to train the abductors. His method is to stand to the left of the cable machine with the cable attached to the right ankle. Then, slowly pull the leg away from the center of the body to engage the abductor. Finally, bring the leg back across the front of the body, crossing over the front of the left leg. Brooks says he prefers this method because it challenges stabilizer muscles and also works the core. If a cable machine is not available, this same exercise can be achieved by using resistance band tied to a stationary object.
Training with Body Weight
Yet another way to train abductor muscles is by doing exercises that use body weight as resistance. One such exercise is detailed on the Planet Running website and is called "The Fire Hydrant." To perform this exercise, start on your hands and knees and then slowly raise your leg laterally away from your body until it reaches 90 degrees. Lower the leg to starting position and repeat. Body-weight exercises are convenient because they do not require additional equipment, but it is still important to maintain proper form to reduce risk of injury.