Strengthening the Adductors

Strengthening the Adductors

The hip adductors are a group of muscles that play a vital role in all sports. These muscles are primarily responsible for thigh adduction and gait stabilization. The adductors are involved whether an athlete is running, jumping, squatting, or changing direction rapidly. Proper training of the adductors is essential to ensure athletes can produce high levels of force and avoid injury when performing lower-body sports tasks. 

The adductors are located in the inner thigh region of the legs. This group of muscles includes the adductor magnus, adductor longus, adductor brevis, and the gracilis. The adductor magnus is the group's largest muscle and the most commonly injured adductor muscle. Often, when athletes experience a groin strain, the adductor magnus has been injured.

By properly strengthening these muscles, athletes will improve lower-body stability, become less prone to groin strains, and become more explosive during lower-body sports movements. As we know, strong and mobile hips are a critical aspect of sports performance. Strengthening the adductor muscles is an easy way to improve the strength and mobility of the hips. 

Below, we will review a few exercises to help strengthen the adductors and reduce the risk of adductor strains and groin injuries. 

Main Exercises

If you are familiar with the Conjugate Method, you know that we perform a main exercise followed by accessory exercises each training day. Our lower body training each week includes a max and dynamic effort training day. Max effort allows us to load the muscles of the lower body at high intensities, and dynamic effort helps improve the explosive strength capabilities of the muscles using a fast eccentric followed by an explosive concentric movement. 

Training the lower body at high intensities will improve tissue density and increase the absolute strength of all involved muscle groups. Training the lower body using fast eccentrics followed by explosive concentric movements will improve the rate of force development and elastic strength. 

Here are a few main exercise variations to help strengthen the adductors:

Wide Stance Squat

The wide stance squat is a staple squat movement at Westside Barbell. This exercise will increase the demand on the inner thighs and glutes, improving hip strength. Lou always advocated for the use of wide stance squats when training athletes. This movement can be performed for both max and dynamic effort training. 

Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift is a great way to concentrically load the hips and inner thighs, helping to improve the strength of the adductor muscles. This is another commonly used exercise at Westside Barbell, considering the value this deadlift stance has for the conventional sports athlete. This movement can be performed for both max and dynamic effort training. 

Wide Stance Hatfield Squat

The Hatfield Squat is a great way to increase the focus on the lower body, considering the upper body is stabilized. Add in a wide stance, and you will have another squat variation that will allow you to load the adductors to improve strength and stability. This movement can be performed for both max and dynamic effort training. 

Wide Stance Box Squat

Like the wide stance squat, the wide stance box squat is a staple exercise at Westside Barbell. However, with the box added, two training effects are introduced: static and relaxed-overcome-by-dynamic. This movement will help to improve absolute strength and rate of force development when used as a max or dynamic effort variation. The box squat is also a great way to improve starting strength. 

Accessory Exercises

Accessory exercise training allows for more focused training of specific muscle groups. Fortunately, there are many exercises to choose from when aiming to strengthen the adductors. Some of these exercises use body weight only, while others incorporate barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells. 

If adductor weakness or injury holds an athlete back, we recommend selecting at least one adductor-focused accessory exercise during each lower body training day. Of course, you can use more than one movement per training day, but one movement is a good starting point to avoid excessively fatiguing an already lagging muscle group. 

Here are a few accessory exercises to help strengthen the adductors:

Wide Stance Squat Jump

This is a jump exercise that will help to improve the elastic strength of the adductors. The goal is to achieve a fast eccentric movement followed by an explosive concentric movement. As the athlete lands, they should quickly move through the eccentric and concentric contractions again. We recommend four sets of 8-10 or 10-12 repetitions. 

Adductor Machine

This machine is often overlooked in most gyms. Fortunately, many gyms have an adductor machine. This machine does what the name implies: it focuses on training the adductors. You want to select a training weight with which you can perform 3-4 sets of 10-12 or 12-15 disciplined reps, ensuring you are moving through the full range of motion. 

Cossack Squat 

The Cossack squat is a great way to place primary focus on the adductors. This exercise can be performed with body weight only or executed under load using a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell. The goal here is simple: we want to shift the weight side to side in a controlled manner, moving through full ROM. The key to this exercise is an upright posture and a solid abdominal brace. 

When performed using body weight, we recommend 3-5 sets of AMRAP. When performed with a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell, we recommend 3-4 sets of 8-10 or 10-12 reps. 

Wide Stance Belt Squat

This exercise provides many of the same benefits as the wide stance squat while avoiding spinal compression caused by a barbell. Execution of this movement is simple - we want to assume a wide squat stance, executing each rep with a primary focus on the hips and inner thighs. This exercise should be performed using a belt squat load that allows an athlete to complete 3-4 sets of 10-12 or 12-15 reps. 

Adductor Pull

This is another exercise that emphasizes the adductors. To perform this movement, we will attach a resistance band or cable to the ankle and apply resistance as we bring the legs together. When starting this exercise, ensure your stance allows full range of motion reps. We recommend 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps each leg. 

Adductor Slide

This exercise is another excellent way to focus on the adductors using a simple movement. To accomplish an adductor slide, we can use a slide board, slide pads, or the seat of a rower machine. Execution is simple. We will stabilize the trunk, focusing on a controlled eccentric motion to stretch the adductors, followed by a strong concentric contraction to bring the lead leg through adduction. 

We recommend performing this exercise for 3-4 sets of 8-10 or 10-12 reps using bodyweight only. 

Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian split squats are a great way to strengthen the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and adductors. The quads, glutes, and hamstrings assist in movement, while the adductors aid in stabilization. This movement can be strenuous for beginners and can be performed with body weight for 3-5 sets performing AMRAP. 

For experienced athletes, a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell can provide resistance. In this case, 4-5 sets of 8-10 or 10-12 reps will be appropriate. Always choose a weight that is manageable when performing Bulgarian split squats. It is better to start light and work up in weight set to set versus risking injury by starting the exercise out too heavy. 

Don't Neglect the Adductors

Whether you are a strength or conventional sports athlete, the adductors must be properly trained. Whether you are trying to achieve the strongest squat possible, jump the highest, run the fastest, or be the most athletic individual on the playing field, the adductors play a significant role in sports performance. Neglecting the adductors is a quick ticket to experiencing pain or injury to the inner thighs. 

Not only will this be detrimental to an athlete in the short term, but it can also cause lingering issues that can reduce sports performance for an extended period. Often, once an adductor injury occurs, athletes recover within 4-6 weeks and then experience a similar or worse injury shortly after recovery. This is due to a need for more training and a lack of preparedness. 

If you have experienced an adductor injury, you must begin focusing on strengthening this muscle group. If you have yet to experience an adductor injury, it is just as important to start strengthening these muscles to ensure you do not have issues in the future. Any sport that involves the use of the lower body requires the adductors to be appropriately trained. 

The exercise selections we have listed above are great ways to rapidly improve the strength of your adductors and help avoid adductor injuries. Be sure to include them in your training regularly. No athlete should neglect the adductors.  


Simmons, L. (2007). Westside Barbell Book of Methods. Westside Barbell.

Zatsiorsky, V. M., & Kraemer, W. J. (2006). Science and Practice of Strength Training. Human Kinetics

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