Impact-Site-Verification: 1728352514
Free UK delivery on orders over £50 & Free Worldwide shipping on orders over £75


Abductor Machine for Glutes: Build the Upper Booty

February 07, 2024

Abductor machine for glutes

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!


Abductor Machine Muscles Worked

The glutes, the muscles responsible for shaping and supporting the buttocks, consist of three main muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus [1]. Each of these muscles plays a distinct role in lower body movements.

Glute muscles diagram

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.


What the Research Says

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)

TFL muscle diagram

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:

  1. Side Lying Hip Abduction
  2. Clam Shell
  3. Hip Abductor Machine

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.

Gluteus medius muscle activation table

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 Perform

How to use the Abductor Machine: 

  1. Set up the Abductor machine so that the knee pads are close together, leaving enough room to get your legs in between the pads. 
  2. Sit on the seat, place your feet on the foot holders and have your knees touching the pads
  3. Select a weight that your comfortable performing 10-15 reps with. If this is your first time on the machine, select a light weight until you can master the form.
  4. Grab the handles with both hands and pull yourself down into the seat. Keep the back flat on the back pad at all times
  5. Pushing your knees against the pad, open your leg outwards but engaging the glutes
  6. Once you're reached your maximum range of motion, bring the weight slowly back to the starting position.
  7. Complete the desired number or reps and sets as set out in your glute building program. 


Abductor Machine Alternatives

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!


1. Seated Banded Abduction

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:

  1. Sit on a bench or chair and place a loop resistance band around your thighs, just above the knees.
  2. Press your thighs against the resistance of the band and ensure your feet are flat on the floor.
  3. Keeping your core engaged, slowly push your knees apart against the resistance of the band.
  4. Pause for a moment at the maximum range of motion, then slowly bring your knees back together.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.



  • Keep your core engaged and maintain good posture throughout the exercise to ensure stability and effectiveness.
  • Control the movement both when pushing out and when returning to the starting position to maximize muscle engagement.
  • Don't rush through the exercise. Slow, controlled movements are more effective and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Lean Slightly forward to further engage the glute muscles

If you don't already own a set of resistance bands, we reccommed getting your hands on the following:

Resistance bands

Check Price on Amazon



2. Cable Abduction

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:

  1. Attach an ankle strap to a low pulley and secure it around the ankle of one leg.
  2. Stand perpendicular to the cable machine with your strapped foot farthest from the machine.
  3. Hold onto the machine or a nearby bar for balance, if necessary.
  4. Slowly lift your leg out to the side against the resistance of the cable. Ensure your torso remains upright and stable during this movement.
  5. Pause at the top of the movement, then slowly lower your leg back to the starting position.
  6. Perform the desired number of repetitions, then switch legs and repeat.


Cable Abduction Tips:

  • Keep your core engaged throughout the movement to provide stability.
  • Avoid leaning to the side; your torso should remain upright and centred.
  • The movement should be slow and controlled, both during the lift and the return to the starting position.
  • Adjust the weight on the machine as needed. The weight should be challenging but not so heavy that it causes you to lose form.
  • Always warm up the glutes before starting the exercise and cool down afterwards to prevent injury.


3. Banded Clamshells

Banded clamshell exercise example

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:

  1. Choose a band that provides enough resistance to challenge your muscles but not so much that it compromises your form. The band should be looped around your legs, just above your knees.
  2. Lie on your side with your hips and knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Keep your feet together and your body aligned from your head to your feet.
  3. Keeping your feet together, raise your top knee as high as possible without shifting your hips, lower back or opposite knee. Your legs should open like a clamshell.
  4. Pause for a moment at the top of the movement, squeezing your glutes.
  5. Slowly lower your knee back down to the starting position, keeping tension in the band.
  6. Perform the desired number of repetitions, typically between 10 and 15, before switching to the other side.


Banded Clamshells Tips:

  • The key to this exercise is maintaining stability in your core and pelvis as you lift your knee. Avoid rocking your body back and forth.
  • Control is crucial. The movement should be slow and deliberate, resisting the band both on the way up and on the way down.
  • If you feel pain or discomfort during this exercise, stop immediately and consult with a physical therapist or trainer.

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.


4. Standing Banded Abduction

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:

  1. Pick a resistance band with a tension level suitable for your fitness level. Higher resistance will make the exercise more difficult, while lower resistance will make it easier.
  2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place the resistance band around your ankles.
  3. Maintain good posture by standing upright, engaging your core, and keeping your back straight. Your arms can hang naturally by your sides or you can place your hands on your hips (or hold onto something for stability).
  4. Slowly move one leg out to the side, keeping your toe pointed forward and your leg straight. You should feel the tension in the band increase as you move your leg.
  5. Hold the position for a moment, then slowly bring your leg back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat the exercise for the desired number of repetitions. Make sure to perform the exercise on both legs for balanced muscle development.


Standing Banded Abduction Tips:

  • Keep your movements slow and controlled to maximize muscle engagement and prevent injury.
  • Make sure to keep your body stationary and avoid leaning to the side when lifting your leg. The movement should come only from your hip.
  • Ensure the band is flat against your skin and not twisted. A twisted band can cause discomfort and affect the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Always choose a band with an appropriate level of resistance. Too much resistance can lead to improper form and potential injury, while too little may not provide enough of a challenge for muscle development.


5. Banded Fire Hydrant

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:

  1. Place the resistance band just above your knees. Make sure it's secure but not too tight – you should be able to move comfortably.
  2. Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips.
  3. Keeping your knee bent, raise one leg out to the side until it's parallel to the ground or as high as you can comfortably lift it. This action should resemble a dog at a fire hydrant, hence the name. Make sure to keep your back straight and your core engaged throughout the movement.
  4. Pause for a second at the top of the movement, then slowly lower your leg back to the starting position. Make sure to control the movement both on the way up and on the way down.
  5. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions (usually 10-15), then switch to the other leg.


Banded Fire Hydrant Tips

  • Avoid leaning to the side when lifting your leg. Your body should remain stable throughout the movement.
  • Focus on engaging your glutes to lift your leg, not your lower back.
  • Start with a lighter resistance band and increase resistance as your strength improves.
  • If you find it difficult to balance, you can perform the exercise against a wall for additional support.
  • As with any exercise, form is crucial. It's better to do fewer repetitions with proper form than many with improper form.



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.

Happy gluting!



Is Abductor Machine Good for Glutes?

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 [2]. It's not as effective for the gluteus maximus, which requires exercises that involve glute extension rather than abduction.

What Gym Machines Are Best for Glutes?

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.

What Are the Benefits of the Abductor Machine?

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.

Does Hip Abduction Target Gluteus Maximus?

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.

Recommended Article:

Best home glute machine article

Visit Article


Thomas D
Thomas D


Thomas is a dedicated fitness enthusiast with over 12 years of experience in the gym. As a level 2 qualified gym instructor, he combines his passion for working out and nutrition to help others achieve their fitness goals. Thomas stays up to date with the latest fitness research and follows the work of top experts in the field. With a balance of textbook knowledge and real-life experience, he provides practical guidance to help others reach their full potential.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.