The cable hip adduction is an isolation exercise for the inner hips that can help to strengthen the muscles of the inner thighs which are responsible for the rotation of the hip joint/adduction (leg moves toward the body). This movement is not used as a primary strength and muscle builder, however, it’s more of an accessory exercise that contributes to performance in lifts like the squat, deadlift, and lunge.
Accessory exercises are necessary for optimal performance as they aid the primary movers as several muscles work together to effectively perform a lift. Therefore, don’t neglect the smaller muscles because you could be missing out on gains while preventing injuries.
Here’s a detailed guide on the cable hip adductor exercise.
In this Exercise
- Target Muscle Groups: Adductor Magnus, Adductor Longus, Adductor Brevis
- Type: Strength
- Mechanics: Isolation
- Equipment: Cables
- Difficulty: Beginner
The cable hip adduction works the hip muscles which is no surprise. Below we’ve included brief descriptions for each one.
The adductor magnus is the largest of the muscles that make up the adductor group of muscles in the medial compartment of the thigh. While it assists during adduction of the thigh (limb moves toward the center of the body), the adductor magnus also helps with hip extension and medial rotation. It has anterior and posterior fibers that help it act on the front and back of the leg.
The adductor brevis is one of the adductor muscles that helps to pull the thigh medially (inward). It also helps to stabilize the trunk during certain movements, maintaining balance, and flexion of the thigh.
The adductor longus is another hip adductor muscle of the inner thigh. Therefore, it also pulls the thigh inward. Along with the adductor brevis and magnus it’s one of the strongest muscles of the thigh.
The pectineus muscle is the most anterior hip adductor muscle.
This is the largest and most superficial muscle that makes up majority of the size, shape and appearance of the butt and hip muscles. It’s also one of the butt muscles that also include the gluteus medius and minimus.
The gluteus maximus is a very important muscle for function and aesthetics. The butt primarily extends and externally rotates the thighs and it plays an important role in helping us to maintain an upright posture.
While the butt muscles are not activated to the extent they would be during other lower body exercises, they are still involved in the cable hip adductor.
Make no mistake – this exercise may focus on the hips, however, it’s a standing movement that involves moving the legs against resistance and the core will most certainly be activated for stability.
The core or midsection consists of many different muscles including the rectus abdominis, or abdominals, the obliques, deep core muscles, and spinal erectors.
The abs are the most superficial, creating the six pack appearance. These muscles function to perform actions such as a crunch that involves curling the ribcage and pelvis toward each other.
The obliques are located on either side of the abs and are responsible for rotation or twisting the torso. Then you have the deeper core muscles such as the transverse abdominis and internal obliques that help to draw the belly button to the spine and stabilize the trunk. This creates a rigid core which is important for safe heavy lifting and even playing sports for example.
Then you have the back extensors that allow us to stand up straight from a bent-over position and lean backward.
How To Do The Cable Hip Adduction
While not a difficult exercise, the hip adductor should still be done using proper form as this should yield the best results. We’ve included step-by-step instructions to ensure correct execution of the movement.
Note: We recommend using a similar cable machine design such as the one used in the video example below. This allows you to get a full range of motion as you’ll need to step away from the pulley.
Also be sure to loosen up using this Five-Minute Mobility Workout for Lifters.
Cable hip adductor instructions:
- Set the pulley to an ankle height position and attach the strap.
- Choose a weight that is light to moderate resistance based on your experience level.
- Face away from the machine and secure the strap around your ankle
- Stand on the opposite side and grip the other pulley system (the one your ankle is not attached to). You may need to adjust your position before you can perform your sets comfortably.
- Allow the working leg to lift up toward the pulley and then pull it in close to the non-working leg. Hold this position for two seconds and repeat.
- After you’ve completed a set, attach the strap to your other ankle, stand on the opposite side, and repeat the exercise.
- Alternative legs for the desired number of sets.
Here’s a video demonstration.
Cable hip adduction tips
- Always warm up by doing a few sets using a lighter weight.
- This is not a maximal strength focused movement. Use a challenging weight but do not strain to perform the movement. See the “how to include the cable hip adduction into your training routine” below for our sets and reps recommendations.
- Focus on using your adductor muscles to pull the cable. If you’re twisting and turning then lighten the weight and work on your technique.
Let’s talk about why you should consider including this exercise in your workout regime if you haven’t yet.
Improve functional strength
It’s easy to understand why many people could not be bothered to do accessory work because it’s not quite as impressive or is time-consuming, when you could just hop in the squat rack, do a few heavy sets and be on your way as some would have you believe.
But as with any complex system that has many moving parts and components, the not so exciting parts need just as much attention to keep everything running smoothly and how it should.
The hip adductors are very functional muscles, and so if you want to be better athletically, in the gym, or during your daily activities, don’t forget about them.
Better big lifts
Working the hip muscles will contribute to lift performance in movements such as squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, etc. Accessory exercises strengthen the secondary muscles that assist the major muscles during lifts.
Supports hip mobility and flexibility
Total body exercises that involve squatting down or bending the hips and legs depend on hip flexibility and mobility. Without it, you couldn’t do squats, deadlifts, hanging leg raises, and most activities.
But also things like walking up stairs, getting on the floor to do something, and standing up from the couch or bed require functional hips.
Can help to prevent injury
To extend on the previous point, preventative care when it comes to your body is crucial to longevity and performance.
Humans move in various directions (different planes of movement) and not just forward and backward. If you’re not an athlete, you probably don’t experience much variety and so this may increase the chance of injury.
You want to train your muscles to be resilient to external pressures/loads.
This is especially important for older populations who lose bone and muscle mass and hence, are more prone to incurring injuries.
Good for maintaining balance
Balance is essential because we use it everyday to perform daily tasks. It’s important for physical training and also being able to do things without hurting yourself.
The cable hip adduction is a single leg focused exercise and will require a little balance, coordination, and stabilization, not to mention, if you’re doing a variation where you are not using any assistance such as holding onto the cable machine.
This is the fun part because now we get to offer you some different ways to do this exercise as we understand not everyone will have access to a cable machine. Although, we did review some of the best cable machines for 2022 if you’re thinking about putting one in your home gym.
Here are some great variations/alternatives you can try to build and strengthen your adductor muscles.
Related: Glutes Ahoy! The Bigger Hips Workout
Resistance band hip adduction
We cannot say enough good things about having a set of resistance bands. They are totally worth the money for so many reasons. You can replicate most exercises, continually increase the resistance, and they are lightweight and affordable.
Plus, many sets come with an ankle attachment and these are the ones you should be looking for if you plan to do some hip work!
Check out our top resistance bands picks!
Machine hip adduction
Most gyms have special hip adduction machines and these are also a great option.
Side plank hip adduction
If you train at home, don’t have access to workout equipment, or want to switch it up a little, try this bodyweight hip adduction variation.
All you need is something to elevate your feet onto like a bench, chair, bed, or any similar object.
It’s not a possible option for everyone as it does require a decent level of fitness. But it’s a great choice in our opinion. The only downside is that you have to be able to lift your bodyweight at a minimum.
If you’re feeling fit and capable, you can try to do this movement without holding onto the cable machine or using any assistance. This is where the core and also total body stability will really come into play. You may not be able to go as heavy but it replicates a more functional and real life application.
Wide stance or lateral lower body exercises
Rather than list and talk about them one by one, we thought it’d be better to give these exercises their own category.
Movements that emphasize the inner thigh muscles include the sumo squat, side lunge, and adductor floor slides (slide one leg out to the side and pull it back in) to name a few.
Mix up your training by also including these variations. For many, these are already a regular part of their workouts.
How To Include The Cable Hip Adduction In Your Training Routine
You can include this exercise in your workouts a few different ways. But keep in mind, there’s no perfect strategy.
More experienced exercisers will be able to fit it in according to how they want to structure their workouts but we can offer a few suggestions.
Adductor exercises can be used to warm up before jumping into your big lifts. It may also help you to better activate them and therefore contribute to more strength and development.
After your primary lifts
Of course, the cable hip adductor is perfectly fine done after you’ve completed squats and other lower body compound exercises. Since the leg muscles and hips are already warmed up, this could help you to connect better with the inner thigh muscles.
Alongside your other accessories
Many people have a day where they do the off-kilter movements and this is a great time to incorporate the cable hip adductor exercise.
Sets and reps
This is subjective and depends on the specific training regime, however, we do recommend doing anywhere from 2-4 sets of this exercise to sufficiently train the adductor muscles.
We recommend using a variety of rep ranges including 6-8, 8-12, and 12-15+ reps.
Lower rep ranges are better for building strength while moderate reps are good for hypertrophy, and higher reps are good for hypertrophy and muscular endurance.
It’s a good idea to include the cable hip adduction in your leg training routine. It’s the muscles that we often neglect that can make a big difference in our performance and daily lives.
You don’t necessarily need a cable machine to do this exercise either and so almost anyone can do it using one of the variations we’ve included. We hope this guide was a helpful resource for those looking to strengthen their hips and become more well-rounded.