Are hip adduction / abduction machines bad for you?

hip adduction / abduction machines

Take a close look at the picture above. Do you notice anything strange?

Yes it’s a man on a hip adduction machine! Have you ever seen that before?

Isn’t it funny how certain pieces of gym equipment are almost exclusively used by one sex or another? Last time I checked men also had adductor muscles.

So presuming you have muscles around your hips…

Is the hip adduction / abduction machine bad for you?

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’re 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 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 strengthen the muscles around your hips. Period.

I think what the author of that particular piece was angry about is that these machines do not spot reduce fat from your inner / outer thighs.

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. Some of my clients are runners who have lost the ability to rotate their hips inwards. This in part, is due to weakness in their adductors.

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

Likewise weakness in the muscles that abduct the hip is relatively common and has been linked to knee injuries including patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).

Hip abduction machines can be used to strengthen these muscles and improve outcomes.

This is the very meaning of improving function.

These machines are very safe when set up correctly.

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 by yourself. 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 little science.

Adduction / abduction machines are useful tools to strengthen the muscles that control motion around your hips. Muscles which are weak in some 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.

Get our guide explaining exactly how to use lower body resistance training machines to recover from injury and improve your performance.