October 5, 2021

Adduction vs. Abduction Exercises: Which Are Better?

Adduction vs. Abduction are words that you may have not heard in relation to your exercise routine, it is a common term. The two types of exercise are based on the same movement patterns you know, whether in the gym or at home: Moving your limbs toward and away from your body. Kristina Centenniali, a S10 Training instructor, says that the names sound very similar and can be easily mixed up. Here’s a tip to help you remember the difference: “add-uction” is composed of the word “add.” You must add your limbs back to your body using adducting after you’ve removed your limbs from your body.

These movements form the basis of many exercises. Understanding the differences between adduction and abduction will help you incorporate them into your next workout. Below are trainers who explain each movement and give you a chance to try them out.


  • Onyx’s Pilates instructor Zach Bergfelt is Zach Bergfelt.
  • Kristina Centenniali is an instructor at S10 Training New York City.
  • Jackie Dragone, a certified TRX and Pilates instructor at Onyx, holds a degree from Biomechanics and Anatomy.
  • Melina Vlahos, a certified instructor at Onyx, is a Pilates- and ISSA-certified instructor.

What Is Adduction?

Jackie Dragone, an Onyx TRX and Pilates instructor, describes Adduction as a movement pattern in which a limb is moving towards your midline. Now, extend your arm to the side and then lower your arm to your side. This is called adduction. It’s not just something you do every day. You can also do a variety of adduction-focused exercises in the gym to get the most out of your workouts and beyond.

The Benefits of Adduction

You should incorporate adduction exercises into your workout routine.

  • It can improve balance. Many adduction exercises, often focused on the hips, require single-leg balancing positions. What is the result? Overall, a better balance.
  • It promotes mobility: Strong and flexible hip adductor muscles are crucial for getting around with ease. Zach Bergfelt, an Onyx Pilates instructor, said that it is important to have strong hip adductor muscles. Centenari adds that this is particularly true for frontal plane movement (think side to side motions). She tells Byrdie that being able to move side-to-side effectively is a key human function, whether you are hailing a taxi or grabbing an extra item at Trader Joes checkout line, or simply stepping out of the path of a pothole.
  • It increases functional strength and stability. These smaller muscles support larger movements and keep your body upright, so you can safely and comfortably move. These little muscles are important for boosting strength and stability in your body, whether you’re running, lifting weights or standing still, according to Centenari.
  • It improves body awareness. Understanding the differences between adduction & abduction can help you become more aware of how your body moves. This awareness can be used to enhance training in all types, according to Centenari.

Types of Adductor Exercises

Try adduction in your workouts with the trainers’ top exercises.

  • Pull-ups
  • Jumping jacks
  • Copenhagen planks: Choose a side position. Next, place your top leg on top a weightlifting platform. To bring your lower leg closer to your midline, lift it off the ground. Hold.
  • Standing hip adduction: Move your right foot slightly in front the left. To push your right leg towards the left, squeeze your inner thigh muscles. Repeat the process on the opposite side.
  • Single-leg lateral lunge: Lift your right leg straight up and extend your left leg to the side. Then, squat down into your right knee. Keep your left leg straight. To return to the original position, push your right heel off. Then repeat the process on your opposite side.
  • Side-lying inner knee lifts: Lie on your back, with your head in one hand. Place your foot flat on the ground, just in front of your bottom. Bend your top knee. Next, lift your bottom leg a few inches by squeezing your inner thigh. Repeat the process on the opposite side.

What Is Abduction?

Melina Vlahos, an Onyx instructor, says that abduction is the opposite to adduction. This involves moving your limbs away rather than towards the body’s midline. Now let your arm hang at your side. Now, lift it. Boom! Like adduction there are many exercises that can be done to strengthen, mobility, and all other aspects of your body.

The Benefits of Abduction

Despite being in the opposite direction, abduction exercises have many of the same benefits as adduction.

  • It can increase balance: Bergfelt states that abduction can help you improve your balance.
  • Dragone says it supports mobility: Abduction exercises, which mimic everyday side-by-side movements, are adductive moves.
  • It increases functional strength and stability. Abduction exercises also work the small muscles that keep you functional and stable. Vllahos says that in order to become functionally strong, one must strengthen both the outer and inner muscles. “Everything in the human body works together, so you have to strengthen both your inner and outer muscles.” “Example: You can’t raise your arms up to your side (abduction), without then lowering them down to your side (adduction).
  • It improves body awareness. Knowing the details of this movement pattern will help you develop a physical consciousness that can support better training.

Types of Abductor Exercises

These moves are from trainers and can be used to adduce exercises into your next workout.

  • Clamshells: Place your head in one hand and lay down on the other. Place your inner arches together by bending your knees. Keep your knees on the ground and lift your feet. The top knee should be opened like a book. Repeat the process on the opposite side.
  • Lower leg raises: Balance into your right foot and shift your weight to the lateral side. To extend your left leg, flex your left foot and squeeze the upper leg. Reverse the motion and return to your original position.
  • Lateral squat walking: Start by finding a squat position, and then hold it for three steps to your right. Then take three steps back to your left. Centenari suggests adding a resistance band to add an extra challenge.
  • Fire hydrants: Get on your toes. Keep your right knee bent at 90 degrees and lift your right leg straight up to the side. Your knee should be in line with your hip. Lower your right knee and do the same with the opposite side.
  • Side plank with leg Lift: Position yourself in a side plank and lift your upper leg.
  • Dolly raises: Choose a pair that suits your needs. Keep your elbows relaxed and lift your arms to the side. Keep your shoulders at shoulder height. Then lower your arms and go again.

Abduction vs. Adduction

The main difference between adduction and abduction is in the direction that the movements are directed: Towards or away from the body. Vlahos says there is no reason to choose between the two. Both exercises have the same benefits and can be used to increase full-body strength, mobility and stability. Byrdie tells Byrdie that abduction and adduction movements, and exercises, should be everyone’s friend when it is about creating a successful program for training. These two will help you dial in.

The amount of each exercise you do will depend on your goals, but a balanced approach is the best. She explains that although it all depends on your fitness goals, the general goal is to train both of these functions equally. “Many people favor abduction exercises, but don’t forget about your adductors because they are equally important.”

Combined Benefits of Abduction vs. Adduction

  1. It can help you improve your balance: According to Bergfelt, abduction can help you improve your balance.

2. Abduction exercises, which mirror ordinary side-by-side movements, are adductive activities, according to Dragone.

3. It improves the functional strength and stability of the body. These minor muscles help you move securely and pleasantly by supporting larger motions and keeping your body erect. According to Centenari, these small muscles are vital for enhancing strength and stability in your body, whether you’re sprinting, lifting weights, or just standing motionless.

4. It raises one’s awareness of one’s own body. Knowing the difference between adduction and abduction might help you become more aware of your body’s movements. According to Centenari, this awareness may be used to improve all sorts of training.

The Takeaway of Adduction vs. Adduction

The movements of abduction vs. adduction can be considered two sides of one coin. Adduction involves bringing your limbs closer to your body’s midline, such as with inner thigh raises. Abduction is when you move your limbs away, such as with side leg lifts. Abduction vs. Adduction movements can strengthen your muscles, increase your balance, and improve mobility throughout your body. To ensure a balanced training program, it is important to incorporate the movements of abduction vs. adduction.