One often forgotten about muscle when it comes to strength training is your hip adductor muscles. While these are not quite as important as training your quadriceps or hamstring muscles, they definitely do play a role in overall leg strength and keeping them strong will help you lift heavier amounts of weight on your more major lifts as they are assistant muscles.
The hip adductor, commonly called the inner thigh, is made up of three heads, the adductor brevis, the adductor longus and the adductor magnus. All of these heads work together to perform the hip adducting movement.
In addition to adducting the leg (bringing the inner thigh closer to the center of your body), the adductor muscles are also responsible for the very initial part of flexion (leg movement straight out to the front), back extension (when standing upright, bending at the waist so that the shoulders move into a 90 degree angle with the body), as well as external rotation (rotating the leg externally).
The two smaller muscles that assist the hip adductors in performing these movements are called the gracilis and the pectineus. They are located deeper into the leg than the adductors and are much smaller in size.
In order to strengthen the hip adductor muscles, you should perform strength training exercises for them as part of your lower body workouts. While you do not need to dedicate a large amount of time to them, as they will be worked during squatting and lunging exercises, throwing in one isolated exercise is not a bad idea.
Perform 2-3 sets of 8-15 repetitions on the seated hip adductor machine. You can also attach a cable belt to your ankle and work them in this fashion, standing away from the pulley and moving the leg across your body in the away direction. Note that it wouldn’t be overly wise to try and use an extremely heavy weight for an exercise such as this as since these are smaller muscles they are going to tear easier and you could suffer injury. Keep the heavy weight sets, with reps of 3-8, for your squat and deadlift exercises.
After the workout is done also be sure to stretch these muscles so they do not become sore. The hip adductors in particular have a tendency to tighten up after you work them so this is really important. To stretch them, sit with your bum on the floor, legs separated as far as comfortable and then slowly reach your arms towards the middle. You should feel a slight pull in the inner thigh. Hold this for 30 seconds and then release and perform again when ready.
Keeping these muscles strong is a smart way to both avoid injuries and keep your legs looking as best as they can be.