It’s common for personal trainers, strength coaches, athletes and exercises enthusiasts alike to regularly use exercises that focus on training the hip abductors (i.e., the glutes), like lateral band walks (with a mini-band around their knees and/or ankles). However, I find it’s a lot less common to see them doing exercises that are targeted at training the hip adductors.
In this post I’m providing you a brief overview of the scientific evidence that explains why I regularly include hip adductor exercises into comprehensive fitness and conditioning programs, and I’m also showing you a few ways that I perform the Copenhagen Hip Adduction exercise, which is one of my top hip adduction exercises.
Why Use Hip Adductor Exercises?
A 2015 systematic review (a study of studies) published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that hip adductor strength was one of the most common risk factors for groin injury in sport (1).
One study of note on professional ice hockey players found that they were 17 times more likely to sustain an adductor muscle strain (i.e., groin injury) if their adductor strength was less than 80% of his abductor strength (2).
What Are The Most Effective Hip Adductor Exercises?
With the above in mind, it’s not uncommon for personal trainers and strength coaches to claim that you don’t need to do specific exercises to target your adductors, as compound exercises like squats and lunges do the job effectively. However, the research in this arena shows this common belief/claim to be false.
A review investigating the barbell squat found that a greater hip external rotation position (feet turned out) along a wide stance of the feet, as well as an increased load will increase hip adduction activation during this exercise (3). However, the highest values in muscle activity for the wide-stance squat (4), along with those found during a single-leg squat and a lunge, are relatively low compared to exercises that focus primarily on the hip adduction movement (5). So, with respect to reaching greater levels of muscle activation in the adductors, exercises targeted at training the hip adductors are superior to exercises like wide-stance squats, single-leg squats and lunges.
How To Do the Copenhagen Hip Adduction Exercise – Performance U Style!
Since most people are already familiar with the conventional exercises for targeting the hip adductors, like standing hip adductions with a band or cable and the seated hip adduction machine, below I’m highlighting the Copenhagen hip adduction exercise.
Put simply, the Copenhagen hip adduction exercise has been shown to be a very effective movement for training hip adductors (6,7), and it’s certainly one of my favorite exercises for targeting the hip adductors.
Check out this video (filmed at Gravity & Oxygen Fitness in Boca Raton, FL) to see how I perform the Copenhagen hip adduction exercise, which is a bit different than it’s commonly done.
Also, check out these two-part versions I also like to use of the Copenhagen hip adduction exercise, which are both highlighted in this video.
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1. Jackie L Whittaker, et al. Risk factors for groin injury in sport: an updated systematic review. Br J Sports Med 2015;49:803-809
2. Tyler TF, et al. The association of hip strength and flexibility with the incidence of adductor muscle strains in professional ice hockey players. Am J Sports Med. 2001 Mar-Apr;29(2):124-8.
3. Pereira GR, Leporace G, Chagas D, et al. Influence of hip external rotation on hip adductor and rectus femoris myoelectric activity during a dynamic parallel squat. J Strength Cond Res 2010;24:2749–54.
4. Clark DR, Lambert MI, Hunter AM. Muscle activation in the loaded free barbell squat: a brief review. J Strength Cond Res 2012;26:1169–78.
5. Dwyer MK, Boudreau SN, Mattacola CG, et al. Comparison of lower extremity kinematics and hip muscle activation during rehabilitation tasks between sexes. J Athl Train 2010;45:181–90.
, et al. EMG evaluation of hip adduction exercises for soccer players: implications for exercise selection in prevention and treatment of groin injuries.
7. Ishøi L, Sørensen CN, Kaae NM, et al. Large eccentric strength increase using the Copenhagen Adduction exercise in football: A randomized controlled trial. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2016 Nov;26(11):1334-1342.