Master These 6 Banded Hip Abduction Exercises For Stronger Outer Hips

banded hip abductions

On your quest to become fitter, you may come across two phrases used to describe different types of movements; adduction and abduction. Adduction is a term used to describe the movement of your limbs towards your body and abduction is a term used to describe the movement of your limbs away from your body.

Both are important… and both are fundamental to how we move our limbs and bodies.

In this article, we delve into banded hip abduction (or “abductor”) exercises, i.e. exercises whereby the legs are moving away from the hips, and how the use of bands helps to increase the resistance.

What are Banded Abductions?

Banded abductions involve the movement of your legs away from your hips with the use of an exercise band for added resistance.

The reason why you want to really get into the habit of doing banded hip abductions is that it helps strengthen the outer part of the hips and glutes. This area often gets ignored in other glute exercises, yet it can really help bolster overall glute strength and provide more power during lower body workouts.

Weaker outer hips will ultimately limit your overall ability to progress with your strength training or general mobility, and can also lead to injury. Weak outer hips can lead to your knees leaning inwards (known as “knocked knees”), which can increase the risk of injury at the very least.

Abductors also help to provide lateral power, useful if you want to move with power from one side to another… common in lots of sports, as well as everyday activities.

Banded abductions are also very popular in rehabilitation programs and Physical Therapy. They can be used to test your hip mobility and strength, revealing any potential issues that could be the root cause of other movement problems.

One of the benefits of banded hip abductions is that anyone can do them at home, without having access to expensive gym equipment. With just a resistance band at the ready, you can follow along to a variety of abduction movements to see tangible improvements in your outer hip strength.

How to do Banded Abductions

Standing Banded Abduction

  • Attach a band around your thighs or ankles, or attach a band around one ankle and a stationary support.
  • Stand in an upright position, with your chest up, back straight and feet shoulder width apart.
  • Bend at the knees slightly.
  • Either place your hands on your hips or rest your alternate hand (from the leg that will be raised) against a wall.
  • Engaging your core and legs, lift one leg out sideways (to roughly 45 degrees). As you lift this leg, you’ll feel the resistance from the band.
  • Slowly return this leg to the floor and repeat for repetitions.
  • Repeat on the other leg.

Coach’s Tip – You’ll need to really engage your core to keep your body stable during the leg lift. Only lift your leg as far as possible without bending your body. This ensures you are testing your hip mobility and strength during the movement. Don’t worry if you can’t lift your leg as high as you thought… the band’s resistance will have a notable impact.

Seated Banded Abduction

  • Sit on a chair or bench with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Attach a band around your thighs, a few inches above your knees.
  • Keep your chest up and your back straight.
  • Push both knees outwards.
  • Slowly return the legs in and repeat the movement.

Coach’s Tip – Your feet should stay in the same position, slightly rocking onto the outer edge during the movement. If you move your feet with your legs, it would engage your lower body muscles differently.

This can be a great movement to do during mini breaks at the office or when you’re watching TV. Fitting in a few sets of seated band hip abductions throughout the day could see you really improving your overall hip strength.

Banded Clamshell Abduction

  • Lay on your side, with one leg on top of the other, and knees bent.
  • Bend your arm so you can rest your head on your hand.
  • Attach a band around both thighs, a few inches above the knee.
  • Keeping your feet together, lift the knee of the leg on top upwards. Don’t rotate the hips or your body.
  • Repeat for repetitions.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Coach’s Tip – To increase difficulty, pause for a few moments when you’ve lifted your knee out. Really squeeze the glutes to hold this position, before slowly returning the knee down.

Banded Glute Bridge Abduction

  • Lay on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat.
  • Attach a band around your thighs.
  • Perform a glute bridge by squeezing your glutes to lift your hips off the floor.
  • Hold this position and push your knees out and back in for repetitions.
  • Lower your hips back to the floor.
  • Repeat for sets.

Coach’s Tip – Another way to do this would be to simply hold the glute bridge for a duration of time, instead of pushing your knees out and in. To keep the band in place, you’ll naturally find you need to push your thighs outwards slightly during the glute bridge anyway.

Side-Lying Banded Hip Abduction

  • Lay on your side with one leg on top of the other, keeping your legs straight.
  • Attach a band around your thighs or ankles.
  • Lift your top leg up, hinging at the hips. As you raise it up, the band will create resistance.
  • Hold for a moment, before slowly lowering this leg.
  • Repeat for repetitions.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Coach’s Tip – Really focus on your form and keeping your legs straight. You may find you need quite a light resistance band for this, which is completely fine. Similarly, try it without a band if it is too hard.

The movement doesn’t need to be huge. Even a subtle push out will help to engage the outer hips. Unless you have very good hip flexibility, you’ll struggle to lift your leg past 45 degrees.

Banded Fire Hydrants

  • Start in a quadruped (all fours) position so your hands and knees are resting on the floor.
  • Attach a band around your thighs, a few inches above your knees.
  • Lift one leg outwards, hinging at the hips.
  • Slowly lower it back to the floor.
  • Repeat for repetitions.
  • Repeat with the other leg.

Coach’s Tip – If you want to add progress to this exercise, lift both knees off the floor. This will require your core to really kick in and provide the stability you need. This turns the exercise into both a glute and core exercise, ideal if you’re a bit short on time and looking for a quite workout to tide you over.

Check out our exercise guide on how to do fire hydrants for help mastering the basic movement.

Tips for Banded Abductions

Any type of banded abduction movement should be slow and controlled. Really focus on engaging the outer hips during the exercises, and avoid any sort of rocking motion to gain momentum to help you… this goes against the purpose of what banded abductions are trying to achieve.

The band you use is also going to have an influence on how you find the exercises. Resistance bands come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s best to opt for shorter, thicker bands for this sort of movement.

If you find the movements too difficult, the band you are using may be too strong, so try using a lighter band if that’s the case. Similarly, if you find you can do 20+ repetitions with ease, you’d benefit from using a stronger band to create more resistance.

Bottom Line

Hip abduction exercises may not be the most glamorous side of fitness, but their impact can be huge. Weak outer hips could be the root cause for other limitations in your movement, so by performing these hip abductor stretches and exercises often, you can ensure your outer hips and glutes are strong and able to support functional lower body movements.

If you are struggling with these banded hip abductions, try them without a band as this will remove the extra resistance on your muscles.

It’s also worth ensuring you include hip adduction exercises in your workout routine too, helping to avoid muscular imbalances.

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How to do Deadlifts with a Resistance Band

Hip Adductor Stretches

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