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Squats for training your adductors? Doesn't work

Squats for training your adductors? Doesn't work
If your lower back is up to it, squats are a great exercise. But however you perform your squats, it won't help you develop your adductors. Sports scientists from the State University of Rio de Janeiro come to this conclusion in a study that had been published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Just as well that fitness industry has developed adductor machines.

In 1999 American scientists published a study in which it is made evident that squats don't stimulate the adductor muscles. But among PhDudes in the Bro-Science, the received wisdom is that if you do squats with your feet wide apart you'll train the adductors too. The 1999 study suggests that this variation on the squat is indeed better for the glutes and the hamstrings, but has no effect on the adductors, the complex muscle group on the inside of your thighs shown below.

Squats for training your adductors? Doesn't work

The Brazilians repeated the study. They got students who did regular weight training to do squats using a weight with which they could manage 10 reps. The researchers attached electrodes to the subjects' adductors [HA] and their quadriceps muscle, rectus femoris [RF] so they could measure how hard the muscles had to work.

The subjects did the squats with their feet next to each other [H0], with their feet shoulder width apart [H30] and with their feet wider apart than their shoulders [H50].

The researchers also looked at how deep the students bent their knees, measuring the angle of the knee joint. 1 = 0-30 degrees; 2 = 30-60 degrees; 3 = 60-90 degrees.

The table below shows the electrical activity in the muscles during the concentric movement. The lower table shows the same measurements, but for the eccentric movement.

Squats for training your adductors? Doesn't work

Squats for training your adductors? Doesn't work

The position of the feet turned out to have no influence. No matter where you place your feet, the stimulus for your quads and adductors remains the same. And in all cases the stimulus for the adductors is only a fraction of the amount of the stimulus for the quads when it comes to squats.

The Brazilian study not only provides reasons for not avoiding the adductor machine. It also shows how important it is to perform squats properly, lowering your torso far enough until your upper legs are parallel to the floor. Doing squats this way is probably three times more effective than only doing a halfway movement.

J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):2749-2754.

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