If you're looking to build the upper booty and sculpt your glutes, one exercise you should definitely consider incorporating into your routine is the abductor machine. Despite its seemingly simple design, the abductor machine can bring great benefits in terms of building size and toning the upper glutes.
In this article, we will explore the muscles worked by the abductor machine, explain how to properly perform the exercise, and provide alternative exercises for those without access to the machine.
So let's dive in!
The glutes, the muscles responsible for shaping and supporting the buttocks, consist of three main muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus . Each of these muscles plays a distinct role in lower body movements.
The gluteus maximus is responsible for glute extension, while the gluteus medius is primarily responsible for abduction, which involves moving the leg away from the body's centre line. The gluteus minimus also assists the medius in abduction.
As the exercise's name suggests, the abductor machine's movement is abduction. Therefore, the gluteus medius is the primary muscle engaged during this exercise. This muscle is located at the top sides of the buttocks, making the abductor machine an excellent choice for targeting the upper booty.
Many people tend to neglect the upper glutes, so incorporating some form of abduction exercises into your glute-building routine can be highly advantageous for balanced development.
In recent times, a few well-known fitness gurus have come out saying that the abduction machine is not the best exercise to target the gluteus medius and that it actually works more of the Tensor Fasciae Latae (small muscle on the outer thigh)
So what does the research say?
A study conducted in 2022 looked at both gluteus medius activation and Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) activation during 3 popular abduction exercises. These exercises included:
The results found that the gluteus medius was activated to a much higher degree than the TFL during each of the 3 exercises.
We probably already knew this, but it’s good to hear it from a research standpoint. After all, we’re trying to build the upper booty, not the side of the thigh.
So is the hip abductor machine the best exercise we can do to build the gluteus medius? Again – let’s see what the research says.
A study published in the International Journal Of Sports Physical Therapy looked at both gluteus maximas and gluteus medius activation during various hip abduction exercises.
The results from 23 independent studies were analyzed and included exercises in the standing position, the seated position, and the side-lying position.
As you can see from the above table, abduction exercises in the seated position came up triumphant when looking to activate the gluteus medius.
But the difference in the gluteus medius activation amongst the 3 different position exercises isn’t huge – plus only 1 study was included for analysis in the seated position whereas multiple studies were included for analysis in the Standing and Side-Lying position.
For this reason, we would suggest opting for the abduction variation that you enjoy the most. As long as we implement progressive overload on the exercise we choose, we’re going to get stronger and build muscle regardless.
How to use the Abductor Machine:
While the abductor machine is an effective tool for targeting the gluteus medius and building the upper glutes, there are alternative exercises you can perform if you don't have access to the machine. These exercises also target the gluteus medius and provide similar benefits.
So if your gym doesnt have the hip adbuction machine, or your working out from home - give one of these variations a try!
This exercise replicates the same movement performed on the abductor machine but replaces the machine with a resistance band. It involves sitting on a chair or bench, with a resistance band placed around your thighs, and then pushing your knees outwards against the resistance of the band. This movement engages and strengthens the muscles in the outer thighs and hips.
How to perform the Seated Banded Abduction:
If you don't already own a set of resistance bands, we reccommed getting your hands on the following:
Check Price on Amazon
Cable Abduction is another highly effective isolation exercise that targets the hip abductor muscles, specifically the gluteus medius (with help from the smaller gluteus minimus). It is performed using a cable machine, which provides consistent resistance throughout the entire range of motion.
This exercise not only strengthens the hip abductors but also enhances hip stability, muscular endurance, and overall lower-body functionality.
How to perform the Cable Abduction:
Cable Abduction Tips:
This exercise is a variation of the seated banded abduction exercise, but instead of performing the exercise on a platform – you will be performing the exercise on the floor. Similarly, the Clamshell exercise utilises a resistance band to challenge and overload the muscles.
How to perform Banded Clamshells:
Banded Clamshells Tips:
Banded Clamshells can be incorporated into your regular workout routine, especially when you focus on your lower body. They're particularly beneficial for runners, cyclists, or anyone looking to improve their overall hip stability and glute development.
The Standing Banded Abduction is an effective lower body exercise that primarily targets the gluteus medius. In addition to your glutes, this exercise also engages your core muscles and can improve balance, stability, and coordination.
Standing Banded Abduction utilises a resistance band, adding an extra challenge to your workout and helping to increase muscle strength and endurance.
How to perform Standing Banded Abduction:
Standing Banded Abduction Tips:
The Banded Fire Hydrant Exercise is a popular lower-body workout that targets the gluteus medius. It is named after the way a dog might lift its leg at a fire hydrant. This exercise also engages your core and helps to improve hip mobility and stability. The addition of a resistance band around your thighs increases the intensity of the exercise, helping to build strength and size in the butt.
How to perform Banded Fire Hydrant:
Banded Fire Hydrant Tips
The abductor machine is a great way to target the gluteus medius and thus build the upper glutes. But, if you don’t have access to the machine, there are alternative exercises you can perform to achieve the same benefits – such as the banded clamshell, standing banded abduction, and seated banded abduction.
Any of these exercises can be incorporated into your regular workout routine to help you achieve a rounder and stronger upper butt! So get gluting, ladies (and gents!). With the right exercises and the right nutrition, you’ll have that booty you’ve always dreamed of in no time.
Yes, the abductor machine can be an effective tool for targeting the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, which are the muscles on the sides of your hips and buttocks . It's not as effective for the gluteus maximus, which requires exercises that involve glute extension rather than abduction.
Several gym machines can effectively target the glute muscles. These include the leg press, the hip thrust machine, the Smith machine (for squats and lunges), the stair climber, the cable machine (for glute kickbacks and pull-throughs), and the abductor and adductor machines. However, remember that results can vary significantly depending on your form, the amount of weight you use, and your overall workout routine.
The abductor machine strengthens and tones the outer thighs and glutes, particularly the gluteus medius and minimus. Regular use of this machine can improve hip stability, balance, and alignment, which can contribute to better performance in other exercises and daily activities.
Hip abduction primarily targets the gluteus medius and minimus, rather than the gluteus maximus. The gluteus maximus is more actively engaged in hip extension movements like squats, lunges, deadlifts, and hip thrusts.