Cable Hip Abduction: Muscles Worked, How To Do and Form

Do your hips or knees feel weak during lateral movements? Or maybe you struggle with tight hips from too much sitting? It’s time to target your hip abductors.

Meet the cable hip abduction, your new secret weapon for strengthening those often-neglected lateral hip muscles.

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know.

What is Cable Hip Abduction

The cable hip abduction is an isolation exercise that targets the hip abductor muscles, including the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae

The movement involves standing sideways on a cable machine with an ankle attachment connected to the low pulley. You’ll extend your outer leg out against resistance from the cable.

Using a cable machine instead of bands or bodyweight allows for constant tension.

It provides stability to improve form and works the hip abductors through a larger range of motion than some free-weight alternatives.

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Muscle Worked During Cable Hip Abduction

  • The primary Muscles worked during cable hip abductions are Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus and Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL)
  • The exercise also engages the piriformis, obliques, and stabilizing leg muscles (quads, hamstrings).
Cable Hip Abduction Muscle Worked

How To Do Standing Hip Abduction With Cable

  • Attach an ankle cuff to a low pulley cable machine.
  • Stand sideways to the cable machine with the leg furthest from the pulley having the ankle cuff secured. 
  • You can hold onto the machine or a sturdy object for balance.
  • Keep your core engaged, your feet hip-width apart, and your knees slightly bent.
  • While keeping your leg straight, lift your strapped leg outward to the side as far as you can.
  • Pause at the top of the movement, squeezing your outer hip muscles.
  • Slowly lower your leg back to the starting position.
  • Perform the desired number of repetitions on one leg, then switch and repeat on the other side.
Cable Hip Abduction

Key Form Tips

  • Keep your back straight and avoid leaning into the machine or towards the weight.
  • Keep your working leg straight, with only a slight bend at the knee.
  • Focus on a controlled lift and lower; don’t swing the weight with momentum.
  • Keep your toes pointed forward.
  • Keep your abs and oblique muscles active to stabilize your body.
  • Stop just before you reach your maximum range of motion; pushing past this might strain your hip joint.
  • Don’t hold your breath; remember to exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

Cable Hip Abduction Alternatives

There are several alternatives to cable hip abduction exercises that effectively target the hip muscles.

  • Side-Lying Hip Abduction
  • Banded Lateral Walk
  • Clamshell Exercise
  • Cable Donkey Kicks
  • Lateral Step-Ups
  • Fire Hydrants Exercise
  • Band Standing Abductions
  • Pilates Side Leg Lifts

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