Abductions better with elastic band than on machine
Because squats and leg presses engender growth in the gluteus maximus but do little for the gluteus medius, fitness machine designers developed the abduction machine. At first sight you'd think the machine would work perfectly, but in reality you can get more out of abductions using an elastic band to make them heavier. The Danish sports scientist Mikkel Brandt writes about this in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy.
Avoid the abduction machine
Many trainers and experienced strength athletes are not particularly keen on abduction machines. It's easy to injure yourself on them and they enable you to perform a movement that you don't actually use in real life either for lifting heavy objects or running fast. Their advice is often: do abductions with an elastic band. Brandt's scientific study confirms the value of this practice-based advice.
Brandt got 16 untrained women to do abductions on a machine [below left] and with an elastic band [below right]. The women used TheraBand exercise bands. Brandt placed electrodes on the women's legs, butts and core muscles so he could measure the electrical activity in their muscles, which gave an indication of how intensively the women were using their muscles.
The figure above shows that the electrical activity in the muscles was greater when the women did the abductions with an elastic band than when they did them on a machine.
Brandt also looked at the opposite movement: adductions. Once again he used electrodes to determine which way of doing adductions provided a greater stimulus to the muscles: using an elastic band [below right] or on a machine [below left]. Here he found no significant differences between the two forms of movement.
Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013 Dec;8(6):811-9.
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