Wasting Effort on a Dumb Exercise
Wasting Effort on a Dumb Exercise

Here at Precision Training we’re all about efficient, effective workouts. As Pete always says, “Train with your brain.” Why is it then that so many people never actually think about the workout they’re doing? Every day I go to the gym I see people doing workouts that make me cringe. Just what exactly are they trying to accomplish with that workout there?
What I’ve decided to do is include a weekly post on a specific exercise or piece of fitness equipment that I feel is just an absolute waste of your time! I’m going to call this series “Training Smart.” Hopefully I can provide you with some insight into what that exercise or equipment claims to do and what it is actually doing. I will then explain what other alternative exercises there are that are a more effective use of your time. Sounds good? Then let’s get started with the first piece of equipment that I hope disappears from the gym soon…


You’ve all seen it. It usually hides somewhere in the rows of selectorized machines; the hip adductor/abductor machine. For those that don’t know this machine it’s the one that ladies use to try and get their legs looking nice and lean by working the inside and the outside of the thighs. I’ve even seen guys working the machine trying to do the same. The thinking is that if you work the inside and the outside of the thighs, they will work the fat off and become nice and shapely. Right.

The adductor machine works the muscles on the inside of the thighs, particularly the adductor muscles. Their job is to bring the legs in, or adduct them, and to laterally rotate the thigh. The abductor machine works the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and gracilis. These muscles are responsible for abducting, or moving the thigh out, and for medially rotating the thigh. Sometimes the same machine, with a quick adjustment, can perform both exercises. But why would we want to do these exercises? Well, if you are involved with any activity which requires your legs to move in and out, this might benefit you. However, off the top of my head, I can’t think of any real reason why people would need this exercise to strengthen those muscles versus using other, more effective leg exercises.

In reality, the reason people use this machine is because of the false belief that if they work the inside and outside of the thighs, they’ll be able to melt the fat off those areas. If you’re one of those people, I’m sorry to burst your bubble but that will NEVER happen! It’s called spot reduction and it doesn’t work. You cannot force your body to lose fat in a particular area by working that area vigorously. If your body wants to lose body fat, it will lose it in an area that it wants. And it’s usually not the area that you want unfortunately. This also goes for all those people crunching their way to a six pack, but I’ll save that for another post.

My suggestion for getting those lean, shapely legs is to eat a proper diet, do cardio exercises to burn fat off and instead of wasting time on the adductor/abductor machine, use the leg press machine. The leg press machine provides a complete lower body workout to strengthen the muscles in the thighs so that when the fat that is on top of them eventually melts off, there is a sexy muscle under there to show off. Usually the people trying to get those lean legs are the ones genetically programmed to keep more fat in their lower body than their upper body. I always say, the place you want to lose fat the most is usually the last place you will lose it. Such is life. But the good news is, it can be done!

Static contraction training provides you with the most effective and efficient way to strengthen your muscles so stick with the exercises that are in our routine and you won’t go wrong. Train smart!

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  • Ricardo

    Hi Pete, first I want to state that I am your fan, the number one I guess. But I have to disagree with the abductor article. He is 100% right about losing fat in specific areas of the body, the body will burn the fat where it wants, not localized as many people think. I did the experience of doing one thousand sit ups a day, I mean 1000 sit ups and did not lose one inch of belly fat. Five times a week, takes more than one hour to do that. But if you do a total body, strength training, all muscles of the body, all major ones including abductor, witch is not considered major, THE RESULTS ARE ASTRONOMICAL. I called the most powerful burning exercise in the world. The pants fall off on the third day. Guaranteed. It takes a lot of will to do it. Lots of determination but works. I tested on 20 people, only doesn’t work for people with precarious health, lots of toxins in the body, nutritional deficiency and under a lot of stress. Also mandatory a good night of sleep, 8 hours plus. Take care and best wishes.
    Ricardo Aguiar

  • Debra Caraby

    I have been exercising for years, its part of my lifestyle, and I found your articles to be very interested. I do lost of abductors with no results as you rightly said, could you please send me a weight training workout routine for tonning and tightening I have good uppers and abs, but my legs are in a mess, to big and fatty

  • esther caracciolo

    This is a great article as the info is truly great and something I’ve been wanting to know for a long time. I always believe that the abductor machine is a waste of time and never want it to be part of my routine. I like your alternative machine exercise and look forward to another great article.

  • Dennis

    Although I don’t really use this machine, I work out at home as opposed to going to a gym where you might find the machine. Anyways, since I’m involved in the fighting arts, thought of a possible use for the the machine, those who want to improve the amount of pressure they can impose when having someone in their guard. I’ve had guys crank down so hard with me in their guard that I found it very difficult to breath.

  • Just do the two leg exercises in the Train Smart workout. You’ll see results unlike anything you’ve ever done before because you’ll be using weights you didn’t know you could lift. And doing it safely.

  • Dan

    The only reason I use this machine is to stretch the interior of the leg. I set a moderate weight, climb in, and let the weight carefully stretch the leg. This helps my overall flexibility (still important, Pete) and aids my karate training.

  • Joanne Rebello

    Hip adductor/abductor machines won’t burn fat. Are they of any use in building muscle?

  • Shawn

    Pete, my only question would be is if someone is working out for a specific sport such as competition hors jumping (my wife does this) would the adductor machine be a benefit to add to her workout routine? This machine strengthens the specific muscles she is using, in the same motion she needs them to move (inward squeezing motion to stay on the horse)? I mean she is constantly coming home from practice telling me how the inside of her thigh muscles are killing her. Just curious as I have been slowly getting her to move to more static contraction training to strengthen her for her shows. Thanks.

  • Dave Neely

    Ricardo I’m not clear, what did you disagree with in the article? Also, please share some detail about the workout you describe, sounds interesting. Thanks–


  • Lance

    Thank you for saying what I’ve known all along.

  • Shawn, as I had stated, there are very few activities that the machine will help with. This may be one of them. My point was that usually people train on this machine because they think that it will help them slim their legs down. It sounds like your wife is actually using it for strengthing muscles. The problem is that most people who train on this machine use a light weight and do more than 10 repetitions and go for several sets. This is not an effective way to increase strength in those muscles. It would be much better to increase the weight and do fewer reps to build the strength.

  • Joanne, not really. There are more effective ways to build muscles in your legs. That’s what we’re focused on on this website: giving you the most effective, and efficient workout possible. Plus, you really don’t want to build the specific muscles that this machine targets. Its much better to do a leg press to focus on the hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteus muscles than to waste time on this machine trying to build your inner thigh muscles.

  • Dennis, that is a good point. But having strong quads, hamstrings and glutes are even better because these are much larger muscles than the adductor muscles and can generate even more force for the guard position. But I know what you mean about being squeezed in the guard position. I’ve been in that tight spot before.

  • Shawn

    Those were my thoughts as well. So I could potentially help her get this into a SCT exercise or at least, like you said, increase the weight to do less reps.

  • Tom Strong

    Thanks for this article Greg! I’m looking forward to the future ones!

    I also see so many people; even very muscular people, wasting time doing exercises that don’t do much! One guy who is very muscular is in 3 days a week working out just to maintain his strength and size working on a wide variety of equipment with high reps! I need to spend time with him showing how he could do that by only coming in every 10 days doing 5 SCT exercises!

  • James

    Hi Greg

    Great article, in my experience of owner/operating a fitness center for several years, the spot reduction misconception was one of the most hotly contested by my clients. I believe there is a theory that suggests that either the first place you gain fat (or the last) will be the last place you will loose it from (or first) I can’t remember which it is, but it supports that that will be where the fat loss comes from no matter what you are exercising specifically.

    Also I would like to applaud you for suggesting that diet has a role to play as many do not consider that it does.

    Lastly it is obvious in my twenty years experience that heavy weight work combined with diet and aerobic exercise is the only way to loose fat safely and to keep it off.

    I look forward to your assault on the next piece of useless equipment.

  • malik

    Greg & Pete ,thank you for SCT. Honestly I have benefited a lot by using your method.One advice for proper diet requested as to whether whole egg or egg-white only to be consumed by a bodybuilder ? Thank you for all your guidance.

  • Malik, the egg whites contain all the essential amino acids that we are looking for when eating eggs. Its what makes an egg a complete protein. The yolk contains the fat portion. While I like to eat the yolk along with the egg, it definitely adds more calories to the meal. Also, if you have medical problems with high cholesterol, the yolk is something you should avoid. A typical egg has about 70-80 calories while an egg yolk only has about 15 calories so that definitely makes a difference when you want to eat 2 eggs or more in an omelet.

  • Patriel Dunford

    Pete i have a question in your static contraction workout, i’ve been reading your book on it and i was wondering if after you get to the peak that you wish to achieve and you want to go back to using a full range of motion, will it also strengthen the full range of muscle motion. according to the science in your book it should, but i was just wondering

  • Jake

    Hi Greg,
    Nice article, but I have a comment. I do precision training and will never go back to conventional training, but I also do the adduction and abduction exercises along with an all out hip sled movement. I find it helps with side to side sports movements as mentioned, but also for things like horseback riding and motorcycle riding. Also a slight error in your article. The gracilis is an adductor, not an abductor. Along with your group (gluteus medius, gluteus minimus), you might have meant the tensor fascia lata. Thanks

  • Tom Strong

    I agree with you Greg that egg whites are the best source for protein and if I were not a Vegan for other reasons I would be eating them without the yolk. As a Vegan I do get my protein from beans and legumes; mostly soy products. BTW there are Vegan body builders who get big and strong; do a google for them if interested.

  • Tom, I respect you guys for being able to follow a vegan diet and workout. While it is absolutely possible to get all your proteins from beans and legumes, it is more challenging as you need to make sure you are eating a variety of food to get all the amino acids you need. When you eat a complete protein like egg whites, or whey, you don’t have to worry about it.

  • Jake, thanks for the correction there. As I said, there could be some movements that it would be useful for. The whole point of the article was to make sure people understand that its not to be used to slim the legs down which is the reason most people train on the machine.

  • Hi Patriel. I’ve talked about this elsewhere on the blog but it comes down to this; why risk injury by lifting maximum weights in your weak range? If you’re an Olympic contender than you must do that, otherwise who needs it?

  • Leighan

    Patriel, if you check out the testimonials on the site, you’ll find out that one person went from hammer curling 30 lbs for 15 reps in their full range, to 85 lbs hammer curls in their full range after completing a 10 week SCT bicep workout. Also, one person states “I did a full range 900lbs calf raise like it was a feather. Before starting static contraction my calf raise max was 400 lbs.”

    So theirs no doubt it will strengthen you in your full range too, but like Pete said, theirs absolutely no reason to risk injuring yourself by going back to full range motions, especially when SCT allows you to stimulate more growth anyway.

  • Patriel Dunford

    Thanks for the response it definitely helps a lot, i am excited to get started on the program.

  • Ronny Andersen

    Hi Tom, I just finished my first SCT workout.. the ZERO one… amazing stuff! I will keep this up and see how it goes. I`m a vegan too and I would like to add that a lot of proteins that we get from the plant kingdom are in fact complete, and in any event mixing corn and grains is a complete protein. I suggest from now on to eat more starch based foods it is truly great!

    The point is, if you eat enough from a single plant source such as potatoes you will be a complete protein, after all we absorb starches readily and as I wrote earlier no one is arguing against the elephant or the ox getting enough complete proteins to build their muscles. 🙂 Not that we need that much protein as the prescribed.. anyway I hope I`m not offending anyway, I do my best to be gentle 🙂

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