Hip Abduction

How To Do Side Lying Hip Abduction

How To Do Hip Abduction

The Hip Abduction belongs in the isolated, single-joint exercise category because only the hip joints are mobilized. As a consequence, the lateral hip abduction does not recruit muscles other than its primary targets: the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus.

Exercise Technique

Lie on your side with your bottom hand either flat on the floor or supporting your head and your top hand resting on the floor. By contracting your glutes, raise your leg as high as possible. Hold this contraction for a count of 2 before lowering your leg. Make sure you use constant tension by stopping each repetition short of your legs touching each other. Keep your body, especially your legs, straight at all times throughout the exercise.

By lying laterally on the floor, you increase the resistance but decrease the range of motion. The working leg can be either kept straight (harder version) or bent (easier version).

Execution with straight legs

  • Execution with straight legs.
  • Execution with bent legs.
  • Lateral hip abduction.

Changing your leg position changes the area of the buttocks that is targeted.

Three leg positions

Three leg positions and the corresponding targeted buttocks areas:

  • (a) vertical,
  • (b) slightly back,
  • (c) slightly forward.

Side lying abduction using a resistance band

Start position using an elastic band

Hip abduction using a resistance band

By using an elastic band, an ankle cuff weight, or an ankle cable attachment, you can apply extra resistance to the gluteus medius.


Studies have shown that the lateral hip abduction is the best exercise to target the gluteus medius, the toning of which provides a rounder appearance to your glutes.


• This exercise works only a tiny portion of the glutes. As a result, it should make up only a small fraction of your glute workout.

! Important

• When performed in a unilateral fashion, this exercise might place an uneven pressure on your lower back, which could exacerbate any existing pain.

• arching your back allows a greater range of motion, but this is dangerous for your lower back.


  • If your knees shake laterally during squats or lunges, your abductor muscles are too weak. Abductor exercises will correct this problem and therefore better protect your knees.
  • Using your free hand to touch the part of your glutes you want to develop enhances your brain–muscle connection. This simple maneuver enables you to feel your working muscles more, rendering the exercise more effective.
  • You can elevate your leg laterally only so far. Some women have a greater range of motion than others. This is not due to greater flexibility, but rather to the shape of their bones. It is not a good idea to try to go past your natural range of motion because doing so could damage your hip joint.

This femur

  • a) This femur does not have much room to rise because of the limited space offered by a curved pelvis cup.
  • (b) This femur has plenty of room to rise because of the large space offered by a flat pelvis cup.

Hip Abduction Standing Variations

Standing hip abduction

Standing hip abduction

The easiest way to perform the lateral hip abduction is standing because the range of motion is short and gravity results in little resistance placed on the gluteus medius.

Standing variation using a staff

Standing variation using a staff

If you like the standing position, unless your fitness level is very low, we recommend that you not spend time on this version with no resistance. You can use an elastic band, an ankle cuff weight, or an ankle cable attachment to increase the resistance.

Standing variation using a resistance band

Using a resistance band

The movement

The movement

Standing variation using a cable attachment

Standing variation using a cable attachment

Standing Variations and start position.

Standing Variations and start position

Glute Hip Abduction Kneeling Variation

By kneeling, you increase both the resistance and the range of motion. In the kneeling version, you have to bend your leg to move it up laterally.

Kneeling lateral hip abduction. Start position.

Kneeling lateral hip abduction

Machine Variations

Two kinds of machines are available to increase the resistance on your legs and make the exercise more effective for buttocks.

One, in which you are seated, allows you to work both legs simulta-neously.

By bending forward or backward on the seated machine, you can shift the area of the glutes that experiences the majority of the con-traction.

By bending backward, you favor the recruitment of the upper area of the external part of the glutes.

When bending forward, you favor the recruitment of the middle area of the external part of the glutes.

Seated Machine Hip Abduction

Start position.

Seated machine hip abduction

Backward lean

Backward lean

Forward lean

Forward lean

Glute abduction machine variations

The other machine allows you to train in a standing position. Some standing machines allow you to train both legs at a time; whereas others, only one. In both versions, the movement is the same as that of the other variations.

Standing machine hip abduction

Standing machine hip abduction

The movement

The movement

Free weights or machine?

All of the lateral hip abduction variations are relatively similar. Their main differences relate only to the degree of resistance placed on the glute muscles and to the range of motion of the movement. Ankle cuffs, elastic bands, and machines render the movement more effective in terms of muscle toning by adding extra resistance, thereby increasing the difficulty of the movement.

Some abductor machines have you keep your legs straight, whereas others have you bend your legs to 90 degrees. If you are a beginner, these latter machines are preferable for the following reasons:

  • You are less likely to overstretch your abductor muscles with your legs bent.
  • They are gentler on the knees.
  • Your leg muscles are placed in a stronger position so you can handle heavier weight.


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