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Adduction and Abduction: Definition and Examples for Coaches

What are Adduction and Abduction?

Adduction is when a limb moves toward the midline (a line running from the top of the head to between your two feet, splitting your body into left and right halves) of the body. Abduction is the opposite motion: when a limb moves away from the midline and to the side. Adduction and abduction exercises typically revolve around the shoulder or hip joint.

Examples of Abduction

  • Lateral raises – abduction occurs at the shoulder joint, causing the arms to move to the sides
  • Lateral leg raises – abduction occurs at the hip joint and is when the leg moves away from the body’s midline
  • Jumping jacks – this dynamic movement includes abduction at the shoulders and hips

Examples of Adduction

  • Banded leg adduction – adduction occurs at the hip joint as the leg moves toward the body’s midline from the side while overcoming resistance from a band
  • Lateral lunge – adduction occurs at the hip as the leg moves from the side toward the body’s midline
  • Chest fly – adduction occurs at the shoulder as the arm moves toward the body’s midline


1. What muscles create arm adduction and abduction?

The pecs, lats, and teres major are primarily responsible for arm adduction, whereas the deltoids and supraspinatus (part of the rotator cuff) create arm abduction.

2. What muscles create leg adduction and abduction?

The adductor muscle group (consisting of the adductor longus, magnus, brevis, gracilis, and pectineus) is primarily responsible for leg adduction, whereas the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae generate force to produce leg abduction.

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