Muscle Talk: Hip Flexors, Adductor/Abductors

Hello, and welcome back to the first day of Muscle Talk this week. It’s time to discuss the names and functions of some of the many muscles that make up the complex, high performance machine that is our body. Although I find day two each week of muscle talk to be fun, as it deals with training the muscles that we talk about in day one, there is something very satisfying in getting a good understanding of what it is exactly that we have going on in our physical forms.

Over the past few weeks we have focused on covering the muscles of the upper body. It is now time however, to look more closely at the lower body, and the many muscles and functions that make up our legs. Today we are going to cover the hip flexors, adductor/abductors, and the muscles that help to rotate the upper thigh. In terms of functionality and day-to-day usage, these muscles are crucial and should be shown a considerable amount of time in terms of training. With that said, let’s get started.

The iliopsoas is composed of two related muscles, the iliacus and the psoas major. The iliacus is a large fan based muscle, and is the prime mover regarding flexion of the trunk, as well as flexion of the torso. The Psoas is the longer, thicker, more medial muscle of the pair. This muscle has the same function as the iliacus, but it also causes the lateral flexion of the vertebrae, which is crucial to having correct posture. The sartorius is a strap-like muscle that runs across the anterior surface of the thigh to knee. It actually crosses both the hip, and the knee joints. It flexes, abducts, and laterally rotates thigh, as well as flexes knee.

The medial compartment of the thigh, or the adductor muscles, consists of three muscles; the longus, brevis, and magnus. The adductor longus overlies the magnus, and is the most anterior of the three. It serves to adduct, flex, and medially rotate the thigh. The adductor brevis works synergistically with the obturator externus muscle, but is largely hidden by the adductor longus, and pectineus from the anterior view. This muscle adducts, and medially rotates the thigh. The adductor magnus is a triangular muscle with a broad insertion. This muscle serves a dual functionality in the sense that it helps to adduct, and it also assists the hamstrings in their action. To help you to better understand this, the anterior part adducts and medially rotates and flexes the thigh, while the posterior part works synergistically with the hamstrings. Continuing on with the medial compartment of the thigh we have two muscles that help in adduction. Those tow muscles are the pectineus, and gracilis. The pectineus is short and flat, and it overlies the adductor brevis. It adducts, flexes, and medially rotates the thigh. The gracilis is long, thin, and lies superficially along the medial thigh. It adducts the thigh, flexes, and medially rotates the leg.

That is a brief overview of the names and functions of some of the muscles that are located at our hips, and thighs. These particular muscles have a lot of responsibility in day-to-day life with regards to walking and climbing stairs, stepping sideways, and backwards. These aren’t the first muscles that come to mind when we think of training our legs, but they are the mechanism that allows us to do so. When we train our legs through the various exercises, we are really just adding weight to what it is our lower extremities were designed to do. Having a better understanding of the parts that allow this process to take place can only assist us in furthering our goals.

Next up on the Muscle Talk agenda will of course be the exercises that we can use to strengthen this vital hinge in our body. I know personally that I thought my upper body strength had more or less plateaued until I began seriously training the muscles of my rotator cuff. If you’re interested in generating more power from your lower half, then I can only assume the same logic applies. We often ignore the smaller muscles, in favor of training the big ones not realizing that strengthening the lesser known muscles will allow us to progress much faster and further. It’s a somewhat lateral approach to building muscle, but one that I find allows for greater longevity as well.

That’s all from us on this subject for today. Tomorrow brings another Super Food selection from the bountiful supermarket known as planet earth. We are constantly trying to make a better this or that, but there is no improving on mother nature. I hoe to see you here tomorrow to let you in on what makes this next Super food so special. Until then my friends,

Happy Lifting!

This article was researched and co-written by Carlos Flores – @_FloFitness

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2 comments for “Muscle Talk: Hip Flexors, Adductor/Abductors

  1. Doug Champigny Fitness
    August 21, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Another great post, Matt! All too often weak hip flexors stop lifters from going ‘ass-to-the-grass’ on squats, and the resulting partial squats can lead to knee and lower back problems and muscle imbalances in the legs and core. All too often people let their ego dictate what parts they train, so the ‘invisible’ muscles never get any gym time, which is why articles like this are so important – keep up the great work!

    • August 21, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      Thanks Doug! We’ll keep them coming until we run out of bodyparts, then it will be on to something new. Keep sharing the knowledge my friend!

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