5 At Home Exercises to Strengthen Adductors

Strengthen the adductors for carryover to the big lifts!

Gyms are closed for many of us around the world and we’re limited to training within our own homes. Some have equipment and others do not, which means creativity is a must to continue progressing toward fitness goals we’ve set for ourselves.

While we might not be able to tackle some of our strength sport facing goals due to limited resources, we can certainly progress in other ways. One of those ways is strengthening areas on the body that often get neglected during routine training cycles. The area and muscle group in particular we’re going to focus on in this article are the adductors

The adductors are the muscles on the inside of the thigh that are responsible for bringing the leg into the body and they play a role in pelvis stability. Often times, weak adductors can go unnoticed when normally training, which is why now is a great time to spend some quality time working on them. 

The Adductors and What They Do

The adductors are muscles that originate at the pelvis and run down the femur. Most refer to the adductors as the “groin” muscles. The adductor muscles include the following:

  • Pectineus 
  • Adductor Longus
  • Adductor Brevis
  • Adductor Magnus
  • Gracilis
Adductor Muscles
Adductor Muscles

Again, the adductors pull the legs together when they contract and play a role in pelvis/hip stability. In the squat for example, the adductors play a vital role in supporting hip position and knee tracking mechanics, and are very active when in the hole of the squat.

Since we’re all homebound for the time being, it’s a good idea to spend some time focusing on the adductors and building their tenacity. Check out the five moves below to strengthen adductors at home.

1. Cossack Squat

Cossack Squat
Cossack Squat

What It Is: The Cossack squat is a lateral squat movement that entails maintaining a static position and moving the body through a lateral squat movement pattern. 

Why Use It: The Cossack squat is great for improving range of motion in the hips, ankles, and knees. The angle in which you are squatting with the Cossack will put a different demand on these joints’ requirement compared to the traditional squat. 

Ways to Modify It

  • Beginner: If you’re unfamiliar with this exercise, then start working through smaller ranges of motion and increase as you familiarize yourself with the movement pattern.
  • Advanced: Once you’ve nailed the basic movement patterns, then add external load to increase intensity. You can also add an elevated surface under either foot to increase range of motion.

2. Lateral Lunge

What It Is: The lateral lunge is another lateral leg variation that is slightly more dynamic than the Cossack squat. Instead of standing in static position, you’ll be stepping out to each side when performing lateral lunges. 

Why Use It: Similar to the Cossack squat, the lateral lunge can be useful for improving range of motion at the ankles, knees, and hips, along with moving the body through a place of motion that is often neglected. The lateral lunge is also useful for those that play sports that require unilateral stability, strength, and power.

Ways to Modify It

  • Beginner: If you’re unfamiliar with this exercise, then start working through smaller ranges of motion with a slow eccentric tempo.
  • Advanced: Once you’ve nailed the movement patterns, then add external load to increase intensity. You can also add tempos and pauses to make it tougher.

3. Adductor Slide

What It Is: The adductor slide is low impact movement that entails sliding one leg out (usually on a towel) laterally while the other remains planted on the ground. The planted leg can be flexed to varied degrees throughout the exercise based on one’s expertise and strength.

Why Use It: The adductor slide is a great progression for beginning to train the adductor muscles. You can modify the slide and flexion of the planted leg to a degree in which best matches your needs, so it’s a very beginner friendly movement. 

Ways to Modify It

  • Beginner: If you’re just starting out with the adductor slide, then start shallow with your slides and keep a soft bend in the planted leg’s knee. 
  • Advanced: Increase the amount in which you’re sliding and the level of flexion you’re putting the planted leg in. The goal should be to maintain positioning throughout. 

4. Adductor Side Plank

What It Is: This exercise is performed by placing the outside foot on the ground or on an object while in a traditional side plank position, then lifting the inside leg upwards so the body is suspended and supported by the outside grounded foot. 

Why Use It: The adductor side plank is another fantastic exercise for improving adductors because it’s easy to setup and scale. 

Ways to Modify It

  • Beginner: For true beginners, start with the foot on the ground and use a time based goal that is manageable without the hips dipping.
  • Advanced: Bring the leg onto an object like a bench or couch and position the body so it’s parallel to the ground when the adductors contract.

5. Step-Up and Over

What It Is: The step-up and over entails standing either perpendicular or parallel to an object and stepping up with the leg closest to it, then over. If you don’t have a bench or box to step on, then you can do this on the stairs.

Why Use It: The step-up and over is a great unilateral training option that adds variety and helps target the adductors. A study from 2009 published in the Journal of Sports Rehabilitations suggested that the step-up and over had higher adductor activity compared to the lunge and and single-leg squat. (1)

Ways to Modify It

  • Beginner: For beginners, start with a lower object (1-2 steps) that is relatively easy to step up on with a single leg.
  • Advanced: Increase the height of the object to increase intensity and add external load for even more of a challenge. 

Wrapping Up

The adductors are a muscle group that often get tossed to the back burner, but they’re incredibly important for sport performance. They don’t take a lot to train properly, so now is a great time to spend some time improving them while we’re limited with our resources!

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

Jake holds a Master’s in Sports Science and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as the Fitness and Training Editor at BarBend. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand.

As of right now, Jake has published over 1,300 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake’s bread-and-butter.

Leave a Comment