Fire Up the Hip Abduction Machine
You need well-rounded training to build well-rounded glutes. Here’s how to make the hip abduction machine work even better.
There are several ways to do hip abductions: seated machines, standing with a cable, band variations, and more. For bodybuilding, these are all part of a complete glute-building plan. Hip abductions emphasize the “upper” glutes by targeting the gluteus medius.
Machine hip abductions are the most popular way to train this neglected area. Unlike many other hip abduction exercises, they’re easy to set up and easy to progress by just moving the pin down the weight stack. And, let’s be honest, it’s nice to sit down after gassing out on the big lifts!
The abductor machine builds the booty, but it also helps improve squat strength and makes your knees feel better.
The basic technique is self-explanatory. You sit down, place your knees on the insides of the two pads, and then start pushing the pads outward using your thighs. Your legs will part (hip abduction) while you try not to make eye contact with anyone else in your gym.
You can also change your body angle (at the hips) by leaning forward, staying upright, or even leaning slightly back. This stimulates different muscle fibers and regions of your glutes.
Use this simple trick to make your glutes work even harder: place a couple of foam pads between your knees and the pads on the machine you press against. Airex pads, foam pads, or even yoga blocks work.
Because of the machine’s design, the cables are often too slack, or the pads just don’t come in far enough. This design fault is more evident if you have smaller thighs. This results in very little loading at the middle point when your hips are fully adducted and your hip abductors are getting a full stretch.
The pads increase loading in the stretched position of the exercise. When muscles generate force in their lengthened range, it creates a lot of mechanical tension and acts as a powerful growth stimulus.
No Hip Abduction Machine?
Don’t worry. You can still use the simple trick above. Clam raises are a good bodyweight alternative. Just use a foam pad or two to add some extra range of motion. Performing deficit clam raises with extra range of motion places even more load through your glutes as they stretch.
Machine hip abductions are an isolation exercise, and many prefer to do them near the end of their workout. If you’re feeling a little busted up, do them at the beginning of your workout to make your big lifts feel better.
Do multiple sets of 12-20 reps. You can even do mechanical drop-sets. Start by laying as far back as you can with your hips straighter. Once you reach failure, sit upright, knock out a few more reps, then lean forward for a few more. Again, strictly no eye contact.
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