Healthy groin, or adductor, muscles are integral for movement in sports. They not only help promote good sprint form, they also stabilize and decelerate the body when you land and change directions.
Weak groin muscle can be a factor in hamstring and hip flexor strains. They can also be the culprit for strains in the oblique muscles of the trunk when they do not provide the assistance they should in movements like kicking and lower-body striking.
To maximize function of the adductor group, both static and dynamic exercises that combine the need for hip extension with hip adduction are ideal. But these can be challenging to incorporate into physical preparation programs.
Aside from those awful adduction/abduction machines, which gather dust in the corners of gyms, far away from other equipment, the adductor group is hard to hit directly. This is especially true when the aim is to train the adductor group directly in a functional way—absorbing and producing force from and into the ground.
Sure, we get some adductor recruitment when we extend the hips out of deep flexion, and we definitely get some work out of the adductors as stabilizers with single-leg plyometric and strength-training exercises. However, all of these are relatively indirect forms of adductor recruitment.
To solve this problem, the exercises below require simultaneous hip extension and hip adduction. They are effective for improving many athletic tasks that require the adductor group to be strong and stable. They can also be progressed with cables for a more true-to-life application of the interdependent relationship between the hips and torso
Slide Board Side Squat
The Side Squat is a great tool to develop the abductor group of the hip, but what about the other side? If training the hip abductors prevents the knees from collapsing inward, we also need to train the adductor. Adding the slide board solves this problem.
Performing the Side Squat with a slide board helps to keep the foot grounded and resisting unwanted abduction at the hip (leaning or falling medially) when landing or jumping, and decelerating lateral movement when we need to change direction.
It also happens to be good defense against poor mechanics in the Lateral Shuffle when the groin of the lead leg is used more than the hamstring to propel the body in the direction in which it is shuffling. This is an important point, because the chaotic world of sports ensures that mistakes in body positioning during games and practices are inevitable.
To perform the exercise, hold a dumbbell with goblet form. Taking a sumo-wide stance (with the feet facing forward, however), and with the non-working leg on a mini-slideboard, push the non-working leg away until the working hip is at 90 degrees. Then drive that same working leg into the ground to bring the hips forward and simultaneously pull (adduct) the opposite leg toward you and back to the starting position.
It can be progressed by using a cable-lift to increase the challenge to the adductors while also loading the obliques. Using the cable-lift progression has specific carryover to tasks in sports like skating in hockey.
A. Progression 1: Mini-Slideboard Side Squat
B. Progression 2: Mini-Slideboard Side Squat with Cable Lift
Single-Leg Side Plank
All Side Planks are big on the abductor group and do a good job helping us develop core strength. But along with our abductors, we also need an effective tool to train the opposite side of the body. Not doing so could create hip imbalances that we pay for down the road.
This is a great static-stability drill for the groin muscles, plus it provides additional support to the hips and knees in unilateral jumping and landing, and also in kicking and striking (the support leg, which remains on the ground).
To perform the Single-Leg Side Plank, get into the traditional plank position. Once locked in with enough tension in the abs and glutes to keep the spine in neutral, lift the knee of the bottom leg toward your chest and hold the position.
This Side Plank variation can be progressed in the same fashion as the traditional Side Plank, either by elevating the feet or introducing a dynamic action such as a cable push/pull. Progressions such as the latter will help to better stabilize the hip when resisting rotation at the torso.
Progression 1: Single-Leg Side Plank
Progression 2: Single-Leg Side Plank with Cable Pull/Push
Include these movements and their progressions as preventative care exercises in your strength and conditioning or physical preparation program. They are worth the 10 measly dollars you will have to invest for a pair mini-slide boards. If you can't get mini-slide boards, some throw-away foam or plastic plates can do the job! As a tip, try using slide boards when on turf as opposed to traditional wood or rubber flooring for a smoother execution of the movement.
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