Why Abductor & Adductor Machines are a Waste of Time

This is the first in an ongoing series of blog posts about certain exercise machines that aren’t valuable; this article looks into why abductor and adductor machines are a waste of time.

So you are probably asking yourself, “What are abductor/adductor machines?” Well, my friend, that is what I am going to tell you about! Abductor and adductor machines are those machines at the gym that you see mainly women working on where they look like they are in stirrups.

I would guess that 98% of the people who utilize these machines are women. I had a male friend a while ago who absolutely swore by these machines. I still to this day can’t for the life of me figure out why he was such a proponent.

Example of the motion used in thigh adductor machines. Learn why such machines are a waste of time when working out!

Example of the motion used in thigh adductor machines.

Adductor machines are designed to work your inner hip and thigh muscles, or adductors. Scientifically, it works your adductor magnus, longus and brevis muscles along with the gracilis muscle (now aren’t you happy you know all that?). All of the muscles attach to the inside and back of the upper thigh and leg. When the muscles contract, the leg is pulled back towards the body.

An example of a thigh abductor machine workout.

An example of a thigh abductor machine workout.

Abductor machines are designed to work your outer hip and thigh muscles. These muscles include the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. Abductors are muscles that pull your leg away from your body.

These machines definitely have a physical therapy component to them. About 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with a condition called chondromalacia. In layman’s terms, my abductors and outer quadriceps were stronger than my adductors and inner quadriceps, which caused my kneecap—or patella if you want to get medical—to be pulled out of its natural tracking motion, which is up and down. My outer leg muscles were pulling my kneecap up and out in an arcing motion causing ridiculous pain, and my physical therapist made me do adductor strengthening exercises to pull the kneecap back into its natural groove.

HOWEVER (you knew this was coming didn’t you?), this is not the number one reason why women use these machines. The real reason they use these machines? They believe they are burning fat in their inner and outer thighs. They will sit on these machines for 15 minutes or so doing endless sets and repetitions thinking they are slimming down their thighs. I get visions of Suzanne Somers and her “Thighmaster” debacle years ago.

This little beauty made Ms. Somers rich and cost millions of Americans $19.95 for a piece of crap plastic apparatus that did absolutely, positively NOTHING! But hey, that’s our capitalist system, right? Get slimmer thighs for only $19.95! But wait, when you order now we’ll send you a second Thighmaster for FREE! You know, you’ll need one to replace the first one that will break in about a month because you are obsessively using it every day to lose fat in your thighs!

Abductor and adductor machines are nothing but glorified Thighmasters. Once again, we go back to a lifestyle change. If you want to lose weight, you need to change your diet and you need to exercise. Bottom line …
you cannot spot reduce!!!! (another topic for another blog). If you want to strengthen and tone your legs, the king of all leg exercises is squats. Squat, squat and squat some more. You will work those abductor and adductor muscles much more effectively AND get the added bonus of burning more calories because you are working more muscles than just the abductor/adductor muscles. Also, squats are a functional movement. You are squatting down all the time in your everyday life.

Proper Squat Form and why it's better than using adductor or abductor machines!
Source: Fix.com Blog

You should be developing all the muscles in your legs to help you with this movement. Exercising just your abductor/adductor muscles will not help you with everyday movement. Think about it: when is the only time that you actually move your legs in the way that an abductor/adductor machine moves? It’s when you get in and out of your car! This is not a functional movement!

But squats are hard. Why do something hard when I can sit on my duff on a machine? Well my friend, if you want slimmer thighs, walk right past the abductor/adductor machines, throw away the bag of chips and start doing some more effective leg exercises!

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