Most people go to the gym to stay healthy, and to get fitter and stronger.
While these are valid goals, they’re also very vague.
If you want real progress, you’ll have to break them down into smaller, individual targets. One of them should be to strengthen your hip muscles.
That’s because the hips provide the foundation for a whole range of movements. As Shakira once said, the hips don’t lie!
To build yours, you’ll have to do some hip abduction exercises.
Read on to find out why they’re so important.
What Hip Abduction Exercises Can Do for You
The dancefloor isn’t the only place you can work your hips. Here’s why you should be working them in the gym, too.
1. Build Strength
If building strength is one of your fitness goals, you’ll have to do much more than just squats and deadlifts.
While these compound exercises are great for building power and strength, you also need some accessory work on the side. This is because they require the use of several muscles at the same time.
If you want to strengthen individual muscles, you’ll have to do some isolation exercises.
This is where hip abductor exercises come in.
These exercises focus on the hip abductor muscles only, engaging the piriformis, gemelli, tensor fasciae latae, and sartorius. By adding them to your regular routine, you can build a strong foundation in your hips, which will help you to perform compound movements more effectively later on.
2. Combat a Sedentary Lifestyle
How much time do you spend sitting down every day?
If you’re the average American, it’s probably too much.
In fact, less than 5% of adults in the US get the minimum amount of physical activity they need, which is only 30 minutes per day.
These days, most of us live sedentary lifestyles. Whether we’re students or working professionals, we’re spending large portions of our days sitting at desks and on sofas.
This can do significant damage to our bodies, causing muscles to weaken and stiffen and making movement more difficult and painful.
In many cases, it causes piriformis syndrome, a condition which causes muscles in the hips and glutes to compress the sciatic nerve. Hip abductor exercises are a common remedy for this.
Regularly performing hip exercises and stretches can release tension in the muscles, therefore reducing pain and restoring flexibility and mobility. If you spend several hours a day sitting down, it’s important that you make them part of your routine.
3. Improve Athletic Performance
Whether you want to lift heavier, kick higher, run faster or hold yoga poses for longer, working on your hip muscles can help you perform better in the gym.
Lots of people, from casual gym goers to professional athletes, struggle to activate their glute muscles.
This is because they’re essentially turned off for most of the day while they’re sitting down. Strengthening and activating the hip abductor muscles can help them to recruit them more effectively.
Once they do that, they often find that they’re able to perform movements in the gym with more force, ease, and accuracy.
This can be a useful tool for people who are struggling to get the hang of certain exercises, or who have reached plateaus in their training and are looking for ways to push through them.
4. Improve Stability and Posture
When you talk about core muscles, you’re probably only thinking about the abdominals. However, there’s more to the core than that.
Lots of other muscles in the torso are also considered to be core muscles, and this includes the hip abductors. That means that strengthening them can help to improve the balance and posture of the entire body.
For a start, take knee valgus. This is a condition when the knees cave inward.
Knee valgus ranges from a slight turn of the kneecaps to a complete collapse that gives a bow-legged appearance. It is most commonly seen in those with muscle imbalances but can occur in just about anyone.
Lack of hip strength is a contributing factor for knee valgus. That’s why physiotherapists often use exercises like the standing leg raise, the side-lying hip abduction or squat walk in their treatment programs.
This company provides treatments to correct conditions like this one, such as acupuncture, holistic medicine, and chiropractic medicine.
You don’t need to have a muscle imbalance or a physical condition in order to benefit from these exercises. They can help just about anyone who’s looking to improve their posture.
5. Reduce Risk of Injury
If your hip abductor muscles are weak, your body will try to counteract this by overusing other muscles instead. This can lead to pain and even injury.
For example, if your gluteus medius is weak, you’re likely to experience pain in your iliotibial band. You may also suffer from patellofemoral pain syndrome or chronic knee pain.
By strengthening your hip abductor muscles and stabilizing your core, you can make yourself much less susceptible to lower extremity injuries.
You can also reduce your recovery time after exercising.
The first time you really work these muscles, you’ll experience some soreness. However, as time goes on and your body becomes strong and more accustomed to this type of exercise, it will start to bounce back more quickly.
However, these principles don’t just apply to those who like to work out. Injuries can happen in any settings, not just the gym. That’s why everyone can benefit from strengthening their hip abductors.
Be the Best Version of Yourself
Now that you know how hip abduction exercises can work wonders for you, the next step is to start using them in your regular workout routine.
However, if you don’t fuel your body the right way, it will all be for nothing. No matter how many sets or reps you do, they won’t work unless you’re getting the nutrients you need.
But how do you do that?
To find out, read our post on finding a balance between fitness and nutrition.