Any athlete who competes in a sport that involves dynamic cutting and change of direction is susceptible to groin injuries. Strength coaches have learned the importance of building the posterior chain and gluteus medius to improve lateral change of direction. However, that will only do so much to prevent adductor strains (aka, groin strains). Some direct isolation and rep work can and should be thrown into warm-ups and lower-body days.
Beyond groin injuries, weak adductor muscles can have a negative impact on your biomechanics, causing a ripple effect throughout the body. Not just that, but stronger adductor muscles have also been connected with better sports performance. One of the most obvious benefits is improved agility, but one study found greater adductor strength was associated with harder shooting velocity in university soccer players.
If you want to become a better and more durable athlete, try these 3 adductor-strengthening exercises.
1. Single-Leg Glute Bridge w/ Med Ball Squeeze
- Lie on the floor on your back with legs bent as if you were performing a standard glute bridge.
- Place a med ball (I’d recommend using one around 6-8 pounds) between your knees (the above video shows a foam roller instead of a med ball, but it’s the same idea).
- Keeping the med ball squeezed between your knees, straighten one leg. This is the starting position.
- Maintaining the squeeze and a straight leg, perform a glute bridge with the bent leg, driving through the heel.
This is a great bang-for-your-buck exercises, as it hits the adductor of the straight leg while the working leg gets great glute activation. I also find that squeezing the med ball ensures hip extension is deriving from glute contraction and not the lower back. Try 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps on each leg.
2. Adductor Plank
The adductor plank is a great exercise that has a number of progressions to make them increasingly difficult. To perform this exercise you need a bench or box (such as the metal ones with open space underneath).
- Assume a side plank position, propped up on your side with elbow bent at 90 degrees. Make sure your elbow is underneath your shoulder and there is a straight line from your shoulder to your heel. Think about keeping everything stacked—shoulders, hips, knees and feet. Now your in a perfect side plank.
- To hit your adductor, rest the foot of your top leg on top of the bench or box. Do a side plank, so your hips and bottom leg are hovering off the ground.
- Hold for 10-20 seconds per side and perform 3-4 sets.
For some with knee issues or weak adductors, you can bend your top leg so your knee is resting on the box instead of your foot. This decreases the movement, making the exercises easier. For progressions, the bottom leg can squeeze the bench or box as well (working in an isometric fashion) or you can perform reps of adduction. We like to add these into our warm-up on lower-body days.
3. Goblet Cossack Squat
The Cossack Squat is a great exercise to hit the adductors and abductors while working the frontal plane. It is a perfect bodyweight exercise to perform during warm-ups, but to really hit the adductors we will add external load through a dumbbell or kettlebell.
- Assume a wide stance with toes pointing forward or slightly outward.
- Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in the goblet position, at the chest with elbows pinched and pointing downward.
- Trying to maintain an upright torso with square shoulders and hips, lean toward one leg and squat until your elbow hits the top of your thigh. Make sure to drive the knee outward to keep it in line with the toes. The trailing leg should remain straight. You can turn the trail foot on its heel to help achieve proper depth.
- We like to perform 8-15 reps per leg for 2-4 sets. I like doing all the reps on one side before switching to the other. Try adding in a tempo (such as a 6 second eccentric) to really work the adductors
The adductor muscles are a group that often gets lost in the shuffle. Training them on a consistent basis will help shore up weaknesses and create a strong, healthy athlete.
Photo Credit: Pekic/iStock