The “Thigh Master” Machine, Priceless or Useless?

Posted March 25, 2011 by

It’s hard to find a gym that doesn’t include both a seated hip abduction machine and a seated hip adduction machine, if not more than one of each. Regardless of how many machines are present, you can almost always find someone on each of them, plugging away trying to burn that hip fat and tone their thighs. Yet, in an athletic gym you will never see one of these machines, so the question must be asked, is there a legitimate use for these machines or are they about as useful as a Shake Weight?

First I’d like to point out that there is no such thing as spot-reducing fat. What I mean by this is, you can’t make the amount of fat on your arm decrease by doing a lot of arm exercises, or make the cellulite on your legs decrease by doing lots of leg exercises. This is one of the biggest misunderstandings in existence when it comes to exercise. The ONLY way to reduce the fat, whether on your arms, legs, butt, hips, abs or otherwise, is to cause an overall reduction of your body fat levels through a combination of nutrition and general exercise. YOU don’t get to choose where your body fat is taken from… which can be an unfortunate discovery for many women. While they may love their womanly features and greatly desire to only lose the weight around their thighs, often times the first places their body takes fat from are the chest and backside.

Nothing can be done about this, and the sooner we all accept this fact, the sooner we can move past it and concentrate on how to tone those areas we DO want to lose fat from, which moves me to my next point. The muscles that are exercised during hip abduction (spreading the legs under force) include the gluteus medius/minimus/maximus, piriformis and obturator externus, of which only the glutes are significantly visible (and even then, the minimus and medius are pretty small muscles).

As far as the gluteus maximus is concerned, there are MUCH more effective exercises for this muscle, such as the squat, two leg floor bridge or the glute-ham raise. For the gluteus minimus and medius, a standing hip abduction (attaching the leg to a cable performing an outward rotation while in the standing position) is not only more functional (how often do you find yourself in a seated position, needing to spread your legs forcefully?), but more effective as well. Side-shuffling with tubing around the ankles is another excellent example of a more functional and effective exercise for these muscles. Exercising these muscles is extremely important because our modern lifestyle causes these muscles to become excessively weak and underused, which can negatively effect posture and movement patterns.

The muscles exercised during hip adduction (closing the legs together under force) include the hip adductor muscle group, and the tiny pectineus and gracilis. All three of these muscle groups are on the inside of the thigh, an area many women want to “tone” (but keep in mind the fact that spot-reducing fat is a myth as explained above). These muscle groups are TINY and unless you’re at a very low body fat percentage (think photo shoot or competition levels), you more than likely won’t even see them. The other issue is that in the general population, this muscle group is typically over-used in daily life and excessively tight. The last thing we need to do is further stress these muscles or make them any stronger.

In conclusion, thigh ABduction is a very useful movement to perform during your workouts because these muscles become weak due to our modern lifestyle, but are more effectively and functionally exercised with the hip straight rather than in a bent (seated) position. Thigh ADduction, on the other hand, is unnecessary for a large majority of the population because our modern lifestyle causes this muscle group to become overly tight and overused. A much better choice would be to focus on increasing the flexibility of the adductor group, while strengthening the abductor group to balance the two sides out.

So basically, the seated thigh machines are completely useless and you may as well focus your workout efforts on other exercises that are going to provide worth to your health and fitness.

Comments on The “Thigh Master” Machine, Priceless or Useless? ยป

  1. Jen

    Uh you’re not a woman so you don’t know that this machine tones our vaginas, like kegels but much more intense and fun. So it’s not useless!

  2. The reason kegels work is because they target and isolate the pelvic floor muscles. The adduction movement does not do this and primarily targets the adductors which are outside of the… ehrm, vulva (hard not to feel like a creep discussing this, hah). So although it might feel like it’s targeting that area it’s really not doing anything.

    I suppose if you held a kegel while you performed the exercise it would target the pelvic floor to some degree, but that begs the question, why don’t you just do the kegels then and skip the adduction exercise?

    Also I don’t think me not being a woman has anything to do with my level of knowledge of the body. That would be similar to suggesting that a male doctor could not perform surgery on a female because he’s not himself a woman.