Fitness Trail: Hip abduction exercise progression |

Fitness Trail: Hip abduction exercise progression

Jackie Wright
The Fitness Trail
A simple yet effective side-lying hip abduction exercise.

The hip abductor muscles are located in the lateral, upper aspect of the hip joint. There are three primary superficial hip abductor muscles (i.e. gluteus medius/gluteus minimus and the tensor fascia latae (TFL). The medius and minimus are the major abductors of the hip when the femur is in neutral and only abduct the hip to approximately 45 degrees, while the TFL tends to be more involved in hip abduction when the hip is flexed 90 degrees. Add this progression to your fitness tool box and begin to experience a stronger, more stable hip joint. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

*Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of progression #1, two/three non-consecutive days/week. Once mastered, you may progress to #2 and then #3. Keep the shoulders/hips/knees/toes all facing the same direction throughout. All three progressions train the hip abductors and nose to toes or nose to knees core; all three must be performed on each side.

#1) Standing Hip Abduction – selectorized/multi-gym – position the cable/pulley to the lowest setting on the cable/pulley column, place the ankle cuff into the carabineer. Place the pin at a moderate weight on the weight stack. Facing 90 degrees from the cable/pulley, place the cuff around the outside ankle. Holding the non-cable/pulley column with both knees relaxed, engage the hip abductors and abduct the leg out to the side approximately 45 degrees. Then, lower the leg back to the beginning position without touching the foot to the floor or touching the weights on the stack.

#2) Standing Hip Abduction – foot on pillow disc – selectorized/multi-gym – place a pillow disc next to the base of the cable/pulley, then lower the cable/pulley to the lowest setting on the column. Place the ankle cuff on the carabineer, and choose a moderate weight on the stack. Holding the non-cable/pulley column, place the cuff on the outside ankle and stand far enough away from the column so that you will not touch the plates as you bring the cable back in toward the pulley. Standing, facing 90 degrees from the cable/pulley, with the supporting foot on the pillow disc, engage the hip abductors and lift the outside leg approximately 45 degrees to the side and then return to the beginning position.

#3) Kneeling Side Lying Hip Abduction – stability ball – body bar – position the stability ball so that you are able to kneel down and turn the body 90 degrees from the ball position, place your elbow/forearm on the top of the ball just touching that same hip to the ball. The bottom leg is flexed with the knee on the floor/mat and the top leg is fully extended. The hips should be stacked, thighs parallel to one another. You do not want to lay on the ball or over it. If you are using a body bar, place one end of the bar on the top foot and the other on the top of the ball so that you can secure it with your hands. Engaging the hip abductors, lift the leg to approximately 45 degrees, keeping the knees/toes facing forward. Do not permit the femur to externally rotate. Return to the beginning position without touching the foot to the floor. Then, repeat on the opposite side.

Jackie Wright is the owner/manager Mountain Life Fitness, LLC located in Granby. She may be reached at her website at, her email at and her Facebook Page at Mountain Life Fitness.

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