What You Should Know about Abduction Exercises

Getty Images/John Fedele

There are a number of ways we categorize our exercises.  For example, upper body or lower body or perhaps multi-joint as opposed to a single-joint exercise.  Another way to categorize our exercises is by their actual movement. 

Each movement we make can be described as front or back, moving away or moving closer, being in one plane as opposed to another plane.  And yet another way to categorize your movements is by determining if they're coming closer to the midline of the body or moving further away from the midline of that body.


That's where abduction comes in.  When you abduct, you're moving a limb away from the middle of your body.

Why You Should Care About Abduction

As a trainer, I had to learn a lot of the technical language to describe different motions.  In the real world, I don't say to a client, "Okay, I'm going to have you pick up these dumbbells and abduct them."

They would probably think I was suggesting they kidnap the weights or, at the very least, showing off with big words.

However, there's something powerful about knowing how the body moves in different ways, particularly those of us who go through the motions without thinking much about them.

Knowing the basic movements of your body, including abduction, gives you more insight into both your body and your workout.  You always want to have a complete routine with exercises that target every muscle, every motion and every plane. 

When you know what those movements are, you're better able to make sure you're taking your body through every motion so it's strong and fit no matter which way you're moving around every day.

  And that is the very essence of functional training.

Abduction Exercises

Abduction is something your body does all day long, the lateral movement of a limb away from the midline of the body.  So, say you raise your arm to wave at someone.  That's abduction. As you lower that arm back to your body, you're adducting it.

I know, it's hard to think of anything more exciting.

Still it's a good idea to have abduction exercises in your exercise routine.  Just some of those movements include exercises like:

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