While leg day routines might include a comprehensive plan which involves working the glutes, the hamstrings, the quadriceps and the calves, one muscle that gets ignored for isolated training is the adductor. The muscle, which runs through the inner thigh, is an important part of the human body’s most powerful move: hip extension.
There is a tendency to stretch the adductors post workout when releasing the hip muscles. Most hamstring stretches work the adductors, but it is necessary to strengthen them as well. When someone says they’ve got a groin strain, they’re referring to an adductor issue. It is particularly important for those who play sport or do activities which involve quick changes in direction to take care of their adductors.
“That’s because the adductors experience lots of eccentric stress during athletic movements, which means they’re force absorbers. Much like your hamstrings absorb force when your foot hits the ground while sprinting, your adductors do the same when sitting into your hip for a lateral change in direction,” writes strength coach and powerlifter Tony Bonvechio in an Stack.com article titled 4 Reasons Why Athletes Need Strong Adductors.
A study published in the International Journal of Physiotherapy concluded that “adductor training intervention helped improve the sprint time and agility in football players.” Adding a few adductor exercises could help you not just in sport, but even if you’re cycling or doing any kind of HIIT training and even weightlifting (squats and deadlifts especially).
The adductors are also useful to transfer the weight from the back of the hip to the front, including rotations. Throwing a cricket ball would also make the body go through all these motions. Like any other introduction to your fitness programme, add a few adductor exercises and keep recycling between them week by week. Here are some of the best ones you can start off with.
Isometric squeeze: You could use a swiss ball or any exercise ball or even a couple of pillows for this most basic and common adductor move. A Physiopedia article cites a paper in the Physical Journal of Sport which found that “the supine isometric hip adduction in 0 or 45 degrees of hip and knee flexion were the best positions for producing maximal EMG amplitude in the adductor magnus.”
You can start with three sets of 15 reps in this exercise before moving on to holds when you squeeze the ball and hold for 15-30 seconds and keep increasing the threshold for the best possible outcome. Once you learn this move you can switch to doing single-leg glute bridges with the medicine ball or a foam roller placed between your thighs.
Adductor sliders: Doable in just socks, the adductor or groin sliders are a great way to kickstart your leg day. It wakes up the adductors and primes them for lower body lifts. Just wear a pair of socks, or use a slider plate in the gym if there is one, and get into a side lunge position. From this point on, one leg will slide across the surface adding resistance to the adductor muscles while the other is stable. Make sure you’re using and activating your adductors to do this exercise.
The Cossack squat: You can do this with or without weights, but the Cossack squat is the perfect way to add a stretch and strengthen both your adductors and abductors. That means it will help you move better with inward and outward leg movements. Feel free to use support for the arms at the start before you can do it without holding onto anything. Eventually, add a kettlebell or a dumbbell to the move. And you might want to make this the most regular groin exercise which you do, due to its many benefits.
Copenhagen adduction exercise: This one is slightly complicated to master, and also one of the tough ones, which is why doing 6 repetitions on each side a couple of times a week is also okay. The exercise is one of the most recommended moves to avoid groin issues, especially if you have a recurring problem. As shown in the video, you can use the help of a friend or attach or place your static leg using a band or any other kind of bench or platform available in the gym. It is especially important for those who regularly play sport. Beginners can also start with just the Copenhagen Plank, which doesn’t require you to lift the lower leg.
Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator and writer.