Abductor machines work your butt and hips.
There really is only one exercise to perform with an abductor machine, and that's a hip abduction. Hip abduction occurs when you move your thigh out from your body while keeping your hips straight. It's a pretty important movement because without it, you wouldn't be able to walk, run or climb. While the exercise stays the same, there are a couple of different ways to perform it, and one of them involves lying down on the job.
Tightening Your Buns
The muscles used during hip abduction are your gluteus muscles. These include the gluteus medius and minimus, and the gluteus maximus, which covers most of your butt. This is also the largest muscle in your body. The other key muscle is the tensor fasciae latae, which is located on the upper outside of your thigh where it meets your hip. Performing hip abduction exercises can help tone and strengthen your butt. Keeping your glutes strong helps you to raise your body from a sitting position, something that can become more difficult as you get older.
Getting It Right
Hip abduction exercises can be performed two or three times per week, with at least a day of rest in between. Aim for two to three sets of eight to 12 reps to begin with, with a one minute rest between sets. Increase the number of reps as you gain in strength and the exercise becomes easier to perform. As a guide, you should be struggling to perform the last rep of each set. Your legs should shaking and your muscles should feel heavy. Focus on form over reps, taking care to perform each movement in a slow and controlled manner to avoid potential injury. Perform an appropriate warmup before you start, and make sure to cool down with a few gentle stretches to prevent stiffness.
Pushing Apart and Feeling the Burn
A hip abduction machine will only allow you to perform one movement or exercise, which is a standard hip abduction. To do it, load the machine with a weight that's comfortable for you. Stand beside it and put your leg onto the farthest lever. Sit on the seat and put your other leg into the remaining lever. Lean back in the seat, hold both handles located by your hips, and move your legs apart as far as you can. Repeat the movement for your chosen number of sets and reps. If you're finding things too easy, up the weight, and remember to take it slow, concentrating on form.
Lying Down and Standing Up
There are a couple of abductor machine variations, and while each one only allows you to perform the same basic hip abduction exercise, you do so with your body positioned in a different way. For example, a lying hip abduction can be performed on a machine that allows you to lay back while your lower body remains in a seated position. You can also perform a standing hip abduction using one leg on a machine that requires you to stand, swinging your leg out to lift a weighted lever. Cable machines and rubber bands can also be used to perform hip abductions while in a standing position.