Is Hip Abduction Good for Glutes?

Medically Reviewed on 9/7/2021
hip abduction
Hip abduction workouts help strengthen the glutes, primarily focusing on the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and tensor fasciae latae.

Yes, hip abduction is good for the glutes, if done properly. Hip abduction, or the displacement of the leg away from the body's midline, is a quick and easy approach to improve the glutes and core muscles. Every day, people perform this action for simple tasks, such as stepping to the side, getting out of bed and exiting the car.

The hip abductor muscles connect the thigh bone to the pelvis and stabilize the hip. These muscles are crucial but often overlooked and help people stand, walk and rotate their legs comfortably. They also maintain balance while standing on a single leg or walking. Hip abduction exercises improve the strength of gluteal muscles, which allows people to lift heavy weights and helps alleviate back pain.

While the core muscles are important for balance and mobility, the hip abductors are important for physical movement. Abductor muscle training helps enhance the body's strength, balance and mobility, as well as helps treat and prevent knee pain and joint issues. However, a sedentary lifestyle may result in weakened abductors with the person relying on the wrong muscles for movement, which increases pressure on the joints, causing pain, decreasing the body’s performance and increasing the risk of injury.

Which muscles are responsible for hip abduction?

The primary muscles responsible for abduction include:

  • Gluteus medius
    • The gluteus medius is a thick, broad muscle that attaches the femur (thigh bone) to the ilium (crest) of the pelvic bone.
    • This muscle helps rotate the thigh outward from the body's center, allowing for a stable walking gait.
    • This muscle may weaken secondary to damage to the nerve that supplies the muscle or damage to structures (bones) where it is attached, causing the person to limp.
  • Gluteus minimus
    • The gluteus minimus is the muscle that is attached to the ilium and femur.
    • This muscle causes hip extension (the movement while standing up straight and moving the thigh backward).
    • Abduction (movement away from the body's midline) and medial (inward) rotation of the thigh at the hip are assisted by the gluteus minimus.
    • When the opposing leg is elevated from the ground, it works with the gluteus medius to stabilize the hip and pelvis.
  • Tensor fasciae latae
    • Tensor fasciae latae is a tiny muscle that is attached to the ilium and tibia.
    • It aids in the internal rotation of the hip joint.
    • These moves help keep one foot ahead of the other when walking and give the side to side stability to the knee.
    • It stabilizes the pelvis to the femur while standing up straight.


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What are hip abduction exercises?

Hip abduction exercises improve the strength of gluteal muscles that allows people to lift heavy weights and helps decrease back pain. Most of the exercises aim to strengthen the gluteus maximus, which is the largest muscle in the hip.

The procedure for these exercises and the exact form are best explained by a trained physiotherapist. Improper form or posture while doing these workouts may result in severe back strain or disc prolapse.

Hip abduction exercises

  • Step up to raise the knee
  • Side-lying leg lift
  • Dumbbell fire hydrant circle
  • Glute bridge marches
  • Isometric single leg wall lean
  • Curtsy lunge with kick
  • Jumping jacks with or without resistance bands
  • Clamshell with or without resistance bands
  • Lateral band walks
  • Banded triplane toe taps
  • Monster walks

Hip abduction exercises are typically done with a hip abduction machine, which allows people to do various workouts that help the hip abductors to move in all possible directions and strengthens them. Other leg muscles are involved in these workouts as well. So, eventually, they strengthen and increase the performance of the legs, such as strengthening the legs and hamstring and improving balance.

Strong glutes are necessary for pelvic alignment, walking, running and even when standing on one leg. Glutes help stabilize the lower back and prevent knee problems, which may happen during lifting things.

It is always recommended to perform such exercises under the guidance of a professional. If done wrong, it may exert strain on the spine and lower back, increasing arthritis or back pain.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/7/2021
Macadam P, Cronin J, Contreras B. An Examination of the Gluteal Muscle Activity Associated With Dynamic Hip Abduction and Hip External Rotation Exercise: A Systematic Review. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2015;10(5):573-591.

Graham K. 6 Glute Med Exercises. American Council on Exercise.

Koch A. 3 Reasons Strong Glutes Are Important. Methodist Health System.