We want to say one thing about training in general before we begin – you shouldn't care what other people think of your training program or the exercises you perform. That said, there's no way you'll ever find one of us using one of those hip adductor/abductor machines. Everyone knows these contraptions were built by horny men so they can watch women wearing shorts spread their legs. No doubt, bikini wax was invented soon after the appearance of these machines.
But the truth is, there are a few good reasons for men to train their adductors and abductors. Ian King includes a cable exercise for this purpose in his infamous and notoriously effective "Limping" program for legs. He uses this exercise to teach you to recruit, isolate, and pre-fatigue the muscles. Athletes can also improve performance with proper adductor/abductor training. And lastly, if you want big, functional legs, you need to hit all the muscles, not just the quads and hammies. Training the adductors and abductors may also improve the overall look of your upper legs.
So how do you train them without getting in one of those quasi-erotic sex machines at the gym? Well, you can do the cable thing as Ian suggests or you can try something novel and easy to perform anywhere, with no special equipment. Plate drags fit the bill perfectly.
According to Russian strength coach Pavel Tsatsouline, plate drags were a favorite of Eastern European track and field athletes and can't be beat for defining your inner and outer thighs.
Here's how to perform a plate drag. Go grab yourself a weight plate. We used a 45, but you can do it with whatever floats your boat and whatever best fits your set and rep scheme. Simply place the plate on the floor and stand in front of it. Now all you do is push it across the floor with either the inside or the outside of your foot.
Pushing with the inside of your foot and bringing your leg in will hit the adductors. Using the outside of your foot and pushing the plate away from you will hit the abductors. There are several ways you can use plate dragging. You can perform a certain number of "reps" doing only adductor pushes, then using the same leg, simply go in the other direction doing abductor pushes. Then do it all over again with the other leg.
Another option is to do one rep using the inside of the foot, and then one rep using the outside of the foot. Keep going back and forth between the two until you hit the desired number of reps. Then switch legs.
Notice that there's no eccentric (negative) movement. This movement is therefore designed more for strength, conditioning, and muscular balance than it is for developing size. Despite this, those who try it for the first time will wake up pretty sore the next day, especially in the inner thighs and even in the glutes. Typically, concentric-only movements don't cause much soreness, but the sheer novelty of this exercise may get you sore anyway. We tried it and our inner thighs haven't been this sore since that incident with the stripper and the watermelon, but that's a whole 'nother story, isn't it?
If you follow an Ian King leg training split where you have one quad dominant day and one hip dominant day, perform plate drags (or any adductor/abductor exercise) on your hip dominant day.
Pavel Tsatsouline usually recommends that you go heavy and perform 5 to 7 reps per leg.
For incremental loading, you can place smaller plates on top of the larger plates.
We performed this weird movement on a concrete surface, but it should work just about anywhere. Note that the weight used might depend on what type of surface you do it on.
Keep your muscles tight around the knee and hold on to something for balance if needed.
Yes, this is a weird looking exercise, but it works great. Give it a go!