Closed Chain Adductor Mobility & Strength Drill (Functional Integration)

Missing Link to Healthy, Mobile and Strong Adductors

By Coach E

If you play certain sports, proper adductor mobility training is critical to preventing injury. Unfortunately, training these muscles is often overlooked and incomplete.

Add in this one functional, closed-chain drill to your routine to improve adductor mobility, strength, and keep you injury-free.

Mortal Kombat-Inspired Adductor Mobility

Any other Mortal Kombat fans out there? If you also grew up on the game, the adductor move I’ll teach you today might give you a little nostalgia.

Remember how Liu Kang would throw the flying dropkick across the screen? The position his body is in when does is the same position for today’s drill.

adductor mobility workout

What I didn’t realize as a kid playing the game was that Liu Kang must have been really training his adductor mobility to be pulling off these moves.

The unfortunate truth is your adductors are usually neglected – that is until they get injured.

Adductor Anatomy

Your adductors (or groin muscles) are the group of muscles running along your inner thigh. They run from your lower pelvis to the medial part of your femur, or thigh bone [1].

adductor anatomy

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In their basic anatomical function, your adductors work to bring your leg in toward the midline of your body. However, their function gets a lot more complicated as your body starts to move around in space.

For one, your adductors work to keep your pelvis in line when you stand and walk. They also fire as you cut and change direction, and during flexion and extension of the thigh [2].

Adductor strains are common injuries, particularly in sports like hockey, soccer, rugby… anything where you’ve got to maintain stability as you sprint and cut to change directions quickly.

These sports place big eccentric demands on the adductors [3]. In eccentric motions, the muscle has to contract while lengthening. If you never train the eccentric action of the adductors, they aren’t prepared for the demands they’ll encounter – at high speeds in sport.

adductor mobility athletes

For example, if you’re playing soccer and you’re in a wide stance, essentially stretching your adductors, and you need to cut quickly and turn to take off into a sprint to chase your opponent, if you haven’t trained adductors aren’t strong at their end ranges, that’s when an injury can occur.

Introducing the Liu Kang Side Bridge

This exercise trains your adductors in a closed chain – meaning the leg being trained is on the ground and we are moving the body around   that planted leg.

Closed chain exercises are beneficial because they tend to fire up more stabilizing muscles. Not only do they involve more muscles,  they require you to activate these muscles in more complex patterns than in an open chain movement where just the leg is moving.

Play especially close attention to the descent or eccentric portion of this exercise. Like we discussed, eccentric motions are where most injuries occur, so it’s well worth your time to make sure you’re strong and stable in these kinds of movements.

  • Come to seated with your right knee bent in front of you and your right foot pointed in toward midline. Let your left leg stretch out to the side
  • Plant your right palm with your fingers pointed away from your body and sit up tall through the upper body
  • Get your left heel and right hand in a single line – you can use the lines in the floor if you’re on hardwood
  • Invert your left ankle so the bottom of your foot starts to turn down towards the ground
  • Start to drive the left foot into the ground, like you were going to plant it flat
  • Feel your adductors start to fire as you PULL your body up using these muscles (avoid pushing down through your arm)
  • Keep pulling up using your adductors as your hips lift off the ground. Keep your right elbow and left knee straight.
  • Continue to lift as both knees lift off the ground, until there’s a straight line from your left foot to the top of your head – almost like a side plank. Your right leg can stay bent and float out in front of you
  • Hold here for 5-10 seconds as you breathe and continue to drive down through the left foot and pull up through the adductors
  • Lower down eccentrically with control, trying to push the right hip as close to the right wrist as possible as you do so
  • Complete 3-5 reps per side

I suggest you start with 2 sets of this exercise, then build up to 4 sets with 6 reps on each side. Dedicate yourself to performing this routine intensely until you build up enough strength for these high-rep sets – maybe performing it a couple times a week for 4-6 weeks.

After you’ve built up that baseline adductor mobility and strength, you can taper it off and throw this exercise into your routine every once in a while to maintain the strength you’ve built.

This move will help build serious resilience in your adductors and help prevent injury. And maybe even help you throw some sick kicks like Liu Kang if martial arts is your thing.

If you want to learn more about improving strength and mobility for all the muscles functioning at the hip, check out my Hip Control Course.

About the Author

Eric Wong (aka Coach E) is the founder of Precision Movement and has a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo. He's been a coach since 2005 and spent his early career training combat athletes including multiple UFC fighters and professional boxers. He now dedicates himself to helping active people eliminate pain and improve mobility. He lives in Toronto (Go Leafs Go!) with his wife and two kids and drinks black coffee at work and IPAs at play. Click here to learn more about Eric.