Is the hip adduction / abduction machine bad for you?

Take a close look at the picture below. Do you notice anything strange? Yes that’s right, it’s a man on a hip adduction / abduction machine! You’ve probably never seen that before. Why should that be?

man on hip adduction machine

When I was carrying out a little research for this post, I came across pages of articles on why nobody should use these machines.

Various reasons were given; they’re dangerous, they’re not functional (in other words there’s no transfer to other activities), they don’t do what people think they do, and my personal favourite, they are part of a worldwide conspiracy to make women think small is sexy. Here’s the link if you don’t believe me.

Firstly let me assure women everywhere, I don’t think that the good people at Cybex for example (some of whom I know quite well and are women themselves) sit around designing machines in order to enforce a worldwide view on what size and shape a women should be.

More that they design machines that will improve the function of the people (men and women) who use them.

These machines don’t spot reduce fat, but they do strengthen your hips.

I think what the author of that particular piece was a little angry about was that the machines do not spot reduce fat from your inner / outer thighs. Apparently something that women are more concerned about than men.

This is true but to my knowledge no machine manufacturer has ever claimed that they do. Much like doing a bunch of sit ups for abdominal fat, these machines will have no impact on reducing fat from your thighs. That’s not what they’re designed to do however.

In terms of strength gained from using these machines transferring to function I can tell you it absolutely does. Many of my clients are runners who have lost the ability to rotate their hips inwards. This is due to overload and subsequent weakness in their adductors.

Strengthening their adductors with these machines dramatically improves their ability to run and stay injury and pain free.

That is the very meaning of improving function.

Whilst I’m not aware of anybody being seriously hurt using these machines, there’s always a danger when any piece of equipment is not set up correctly.

The most common error is to allow the machine to take you into more abduction than you are capable of producing. This is usually done by coming up off the seat and pushing your legs apart as far as they will go when setting up.

Simple solution? Don’t do that.

Summary.

Gym culture is full of fads and opinions based on absolutely no science whatsoever. Adduction / abduction machines are a useful tool to strengthen muscles that control motion around the hips. Muscles which are weak in many people and can leave runners in particular susceptible to injury.

A machine is neither bad nor good, there’s just a right and a wrong way to use it.

For a further post on misunderstood gym equipment read should I be using the leg extension machine?