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Abduction Vs. Adduction: You’ll Get a Better Workout if You Know the Difference

Abduction and adduction always confuse you? You are in the right place. Keep reading till the end to clear the most crucial of your confusions regarding these movements.

Daniel Murphy
Abduction Vs. Adduction: You’ll Get a Better Workout if You Know the Difference
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Picture this: You enter the gym excited and ready to start your fitness journey. You have your cute workout outfit and a water bottle in hand.

But as you make your way to the weights section, you hear someone say, "I did three sets of 12 reps of abductor and adductor exercises today." Huh? Who's this person, and what language are they speaking?

It's enough to make you want to turn around and head back to the safety of your couch. But don't worry because I'm here to introduce you to our trusty companion, the knowledgeable and sarcastic gym rat who will guide you through the confusing world of fitness terminology.

Before you throw in the towel and give up on getting fit, let's tackle one of these confusing terms: abduction vs. adduction.

What's the difference between the two? It's not as complicated as it sounds, and once you know the difference, you can ensure you're performing the exercises correctly to maximize your workout.

Abduction Vs Adduction

Adduction refers to the movement of bringing a body part towards the midline of the body. In the case of the legs, adduction involves bringing them together toward the body's center. The main muscles involved in adduction are the adductors or inner thigh muscles, which are responsible for bringing the legs together.

Abduction, on the other hand, refers to the movement of taking a body part away from the midline of the body. In the case of the legs, abduction involves moving them apart, away from the body's center. The main muscles involved in abduction are the abductors or outer thigh muscles, responsible for moving the legs away from each other.

Now that we've cleared that up, let's talk about why it's essential to know the difference between these two.



Hip and shoulder abduction is frequently mentioned regarding fitness and workouts. But what exactly are they? And why are they so important?

Simply put, abduction is the movement of a body part away from the midline of the body. So, when we abduct our hips, we move our legs out to the side. And when we abduct our shoulders, we move our arms out to the side.

Abduction is a critical movement in everyday activities, such as reaching for something overhead or walking up stairs. It's also essential for many sports movements, like serving a tennis ball or hitting a baseball.

Strong abductors (outer thigh muscles) are necessary for healthy abduction. The glutes and abductors are the main muscle groups involved in hip abduction. The leading muscle group involved in shoulder abduction is the deltoid.

You can experience pain when you try to abduct your hip or shoulder if you have weak muscles. You should add Post Workout Supplements to recover from that injury and incorporate quick recovery and prevention. You may also need help with everyday activities or participating in your favorite sports.

The good news is there are multiple ways to strengthen the muscles responsible for the abduction. Pilates and yoga are two great options. Or you can try some simple exercises at home, such as side leg raises or arm circles. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the exercises best for you.



Adduction is a movement that brings a body part towards the body's midline. In the shoulder, adduction occurs when the arm is brought across the chest, while hip adduction occurs when the leg is brought toward the body's midline.

You are performing shoulder adduction when you bring your arm across your chest. Adduction is an essential movement for both the hip and shoulder. It allows us to move our limbs close to our bodies, which is necessary for many activities such as walking, running, and climbing.

Adduction exercises target the adductor muscles and the inner thigh muscles. These muscles run inside your thigh, starting from the groin and attaching to the femur and the pelvis.

The adductor muscles include the adductor magnus, longus, brevis, pectineus, and gracilis. These muscles work together to bring the legs towards the body's midline, allowing for movements like crossing your legs or bringing your feet together.

As we age, our ability to perform adduction decreases. This can lead to problems with balance and mobility. Adductor strengthening exercises can help combat this problem and maintain our ability to move our limbs close to our bodies.

Benefits of Abduction and Adduction Movements

Benefits of Abduction and Adduction Movements

Here are the most notable benefits of abduction and adduction that can convince you to incorporate these movements in your workout sessions with discipline and health benefits into your routine.

Boost Balance

Abduction and adduction exercises are a great way to improve your balance. By working the muscles that support your hips and thighs, you can help stabilize your pelvis and trunk. In turn, this will improve stability and prevent falls and injuries.

Abduction exercises (as well as adduction) can also help improve your posture and alignment. Abduction and adduction movements support a straight and strong back by strengthening the muscles surrounding your spine.

Improve Functional Strength and Stability

The abductors are placed on your hip's side (outer), and their primary function is to move your leg out to the side; adductors are your inner thigh muscles responsible for bringing the leg back in.

However, these muscles are also crucial for stabilizing your hip joint and keeping your pelvis level when you walk or run. Strong abductors or thigh muscles can help prevent injuries such as hip dislocation and groin strains.

Support Mobility

Anyone who has ever broken a bone knows how precious the ability to move our limbs is. It allows us to perform everyday tasks, such as walking, eating, brushing our teeth, and even turning in our sleep.

It also enables us to pursue strenuous activities like running, cycling, and swimming. Without this ability, we would be just a big blob of bones and flesh. Therefore, it is no surprise that the muscles responsible for moving our limbs are some of the most important muscles in our bodies.

The muscles that allow us to abduct our limbs (move them away from our bodies) or adduct them (move towards our bodies) are particularly important for achieving and maintaining an upright posture. They maintain our balance and prevent us from toppling over.

Not just that, these muscles let us reach out and grab objects, which is essential for delicate motor tasks such as writing or using a fork. In short, our abductors and adductors allow and support mobility with perfect posture and stability.

Abduction and Adduction Exercises

Like any other muscle group, abductors and adductors can benefit from being engaged and working on them. They'll grow more robust and, with them, will improve all the functions they support.

It's hard to strictly differentiate between abduction and adduction exercises because every time you move your limbs away, you must bring them back, which involves both abduction and adduction. However, we have tried our best to collect a few for both categories for clarity.

Abduction Exercises

If you want to strengthen and tone your outer thigh muscles and improve your hip mobility, incorporating abduction exercises into your workout routine is a must. Here are some basic abduction movements to add to your workout sessions.



The Clamshell is an abductor exercise that strengthens and tones the hip and thigh muscles. This exercise targets the outer thigh muscles and strengthens the hip joint.

This exercise is especially beneficial for individuals who spend plenty of time sitting or have weak hip muscles. You will need a resistance band and stability ball to do the Clamshell.

How to:

  • Begin by lying on your side on the yoga mat with your legs on each other.
  • Place the resistance band around your thighs, slightly above your knees.
  • Slowly lift your right knee while keeping the feet joint.
  • Hold for a few seconds before slowly lowering your leg back down.
  • Repeat with your left leg.
  • Do 10-15 repetitions on each side or as tolerated

Lateral Leg Raise

Lateral Leg Raise

Lateral leg raises improve hip stability and tone the outer thigh muscles. These muscles, also known as the abductor muscles, are essential for everyday movements like walking and running.

Lateral leg raises work both the abductor and adductor muscle groups in your hips. These muscles help move your legs to the side (abduction) and bring them back together again (adduction).

You must engage your core muscles to maintain proper form and avoid injury when performing lateral leg raises. Using controlled movements and avoiding swinging your legs or lifting them too high is crucial, as this can strain the hip joint.How to:

  • Start by lying on one side on an exercise mat or the floor. Align your body in a straight line, with your legs stacked on top of each other.
  • Place your bottom arm straight out in front of you to provide stability and support.
  • Keeping your top leg straight, slowly lift it upward as high as comfortably possible without rotating your pelvis or trunk. Your leg should be in line with or slightly higher than your hip.
  • Hold the lifted position briefly, focusing on squeezing the muscles on the side of your hip (hip abductors).
  • Lower your leg back down in a controlled manner, returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions

You can add resistance by holding a dumbbell or weighted plate in your hand to make this exercise more challenging. You can also increase the range of motion by raising your leg slightly bent at the knee as high as possible.

Lateral Squat Walk

Lateral Squat Walk

Lateral squat walks are a great way to work your hip abductors and adductors and strengthen and tone these essential muscles in return. Additionally, this exercise can help enhance your hip mobility, which can be particularly beneficial for people who spend a lot of time sitting.

How to:

  • Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take a significant step with your left leg to the side and lower your body into a squat position.
  • Ensure your knee doesn't go past your toes as you lower down.
  • From here, stand back up and repeat on the other side.
  • Do 3 sets of 10 reps on each side or as tolerated

Lateral Dumbbell Raises

Lateral Dumbbell Raises

Lateral weighted raises are a popular exercise that targets the shoulders, arm muscles, and core. This exercise involves lifting a weight to the side of your body, which can help improve strength and stability with its unique movement pattern.

How to:

  • Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your thighs.
  • Keeping your back straight and core engaged, raise your arms to the sides until they parallel the ground.
  • Slowly lower your arms back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat as many times as you like.

Fire Hydrant

Fire Hydrant

Fire hydrants are an excellent exercise for strengthening and toning the hip abductor muscles, which is essential for stabilizing the hip joint and helping it move correctly. These muscles are essential for individuals who engage in activities requiring lateral movement or hip joint rotation.

To Do It:

  • Start in an all-fours position with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.
  • From here, lift your left leg to the side, keeping your knee bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Hold the movement for a few seconds before lowering to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Adductor Exercises

Now it's time to explore more adductor exercises to help you build all that mass you had not been looking forward to. Here are some fantastic ways to work on your adductors:



The adductors are an essential group of muscles for many activities, such as walking, running, and climbing. Strong adductor muscles can help prevent injuries to the knees and hips.

Therefore, it is crucial to include exercises that target these muscles in your workout routine. Pull-ups are a great way to strengthen the shoulder adductors.

To Perform a Pull-Up:

  • Grip the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar.
  • Lower yourself back down.
  • Repeat as tolerated

Copenhagen Planks

Copenhagen Planks

The Copenhagen Plank is a challenging exercise that targets the adductor muscles, which run along the inside of the thighs. This exercise is particularly effective for strengthening the adductor longus muscle, one of the key muscles responsible for bringing the legs together in adduction.

Incorporating the Copenhagen Plank into your workout routine can help strengthen your adductor muscles, improve your overall lower-body strength and stability, and reduce the risk of groin injuries.

To Do It:

  • Start in a side plank position with one leg bent 90 degrees over an elevated object.
  • Your other leg will be underneath the object supported on the ground.
  • Press off both legs and come into a side plank.
  • Keep your core engaged and breathe evenly as you hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute or as desired
  • Switch sides and repeat the exercise on the other side.

Standing Hip Adduction

Standing Hip Adduction

Standing hip abduction/adduction targets the gluteus medius and minimus, responsible for stabilizing the hip joint. In addition, the abductor muscles of the thigh (including the gluteus medius) are engaged to lift the leg out to the side.

As a result, standing hip abduction can help strengthen and tone these critical muscle groups. This move also recruits supportive muscles in the core and lower back, making it an excellent choice for those looking to improve their strength and stability.

To Do It:

  • Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips.
  • Next, lift your left leg and draw it across your body until it aligns with your right leg.
  • Be sure to keep your pelvis level and your core engaged as you do this.
  • Hold for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side.

You can also try this exercise while holding a light dumbbell in each hand to add resistance. Once you have mastered the basic movement, you can increase the range of motion by lifting your leg higher or lower.

Remember to focus on quality over quantity as you perform this exercise. A few well-executed reps are better than many poorly-executed ones.

Side-Lying Inner Thigh Lifts

Side-Lying Inner Thigh Lifts

The side-lying inner thigh lift is an excellent exercise for toning and strengthening the adductor muscles, which are located on the inner thigh. These muscles are critical in stabilizing the pelvis and lower body, making them essential to any lower-body workout routine.

Incorporating the side-lying inner thigh lift into your workout routine can help strengthen and tone your adductor muscles, improve your overall lower-body strength and stability, and enhance your athletic performance.

To Do It:

  • Lay on your side with straight legs, almost like a side plank.
  • Place your hand on the floor in front of you for support.
  • Bend your top leg and place your foot flat on the floor before you.
  • Keep your bottom leg straight; slowly lift it as high as possible.
  • Squeeze your adductor muscles at the top of the lift and hold for a count of two.
  • Slowly lower your leg back down to the starting position and repeat.
  • Complete two sets of 10-12 repetitions before switching sides.

Drawbacks of Abduction and Adduction Exercises

You may think they are fantastic in every possible way (and they are actually). Still, you may want to consider a few things before starting a plan focusing on abduction or adduction exercises.

Stress on Knees

Abduction exercises can cause unnecessary stress on the knees. This can happen because many abduction exercises involve movements that cause the legs to move away from the body's midline, creating lateral tension on the knee joint. Doing incorrectly or excessively can lead to joint pain, inflammation, and other knee problems.

Weakening Hip Muscles

If an individual performs abduction exercises with poor form or technique, they may weaken the muscles around the hips rather than strengthen them. This can happen because the body may compensate for the incorrect movement by recruiting other muscle groups to perform the exercise, which can take the focus off the intended target muscles.

Skin Irritation

During these exercises, people may experience skin irritation around the hips or groin area due to friction or rubbing caused by the movement of the legs.

This can be particularly true for individuals with sensitive skin or prone to chafing. It's essential to note that this is not a common issue for most people and that there are some simple steps to help prevent skin irritation when performing abduction exercises.

These include wearing moisture-wicking clothing, using a protective barrier cream or powder, and taking breaks if you feel discomfort or irritation.

Pain and Discomfort

Individuals with pre-existing joint pain may need to be careful when performing abduction exercises. If not done correctly or under the guidance of a healthcare professional, these exercises can exacerbate the pain in the hips, knees, or other joints.

It's essential to understand that the muscles targeted during abduction exercises, specifically the hip abductors, play a crucial role in stabilizing the hips and knees, which can benefit individuals with joint pain. However, if the exercises are not performed correctly or with appropriate modifications, they can strain the joints unnecessarily and cause additional pain and discomfort.


1. How to remember the difference between adduction and abduction?

Abduction and adduction simply refer to moving your limbs away or towards your body; it's this simple. Abduction comes from "abduct," which refers to moving away from the body, while adduction comes from "add," which refers to bringing limbs back to the body.

2. What are adduction and abduction of the hip?

The human hip is a ball-and-socket joint allowing a wide range of motion. A network of ligaments, tendons, and muscles holds together the hip bones. These structures work together to allow the hip to move in multiple directions.

The two primary movements of the hip are adduction and abduction. During adduction, the thigh bone moves inward toward the body's midline. This movement is used when walking or sitting down.

3. What is adduction? Explain with an example.

Adduction is to bring a part of the body back towards the midline. For example, If a person has their arms straight out at the shoulders and brings them down to their sides, it is adduction.

For fingers or toes, adduction brings the digits toward the center of the hand or foot. For example, if a person has their fingers spread wide apart, bringing them together would be adduction.


Adding abduction and adduction exercises to your workout routine can benefit your body. These exercises strengthen and tone the muscles in your hips and thighs, improve mobility and flexibility, and even help prevent injuries.

However, it's important to note that incorrect form or overdoing these exercises can lead to joint pain, skin irritation, or weakened muscles. Therefore, consulting a physician or fitness trainer is crucial to determine the right workout plan that suits your body type and fitness goals.

Incorporating a healthy mix of abduction and adduction movements into your workout routine is a great way to keep your muscles balanced and prevent any future injuries. By targeting both muscle groups, you'll improve your overall strength and stability and notice a difference in your body's appearance and functionality.

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Daniel Murphy

Daniel Murphy is a fitness enthusiast who has been exploring the fitness world for many years and is combining his passion for writing to create well-researched, engaging, and unique content

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