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My apartment complex gym got a new hip machine that supports four types of hip exercises - flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction. I'm primarily a runner (I run 3.5+ miles three days a week, low impact cardio usually on an elliptical on the weekends), but I do strength training two days a week (3 sets of 10 reps, 70% of max) and recalibrate my max once a month.

Of the four hip exercises that this machine supports, which one(s) should I be doing to best support my running? A few quick searches suggests exercising (stretching and strengthening) flexors and adductors more frequently than others, but it's kind of vague. Should I do all four, or just a subset? And would be 3 sets of 10 reps at 70% of max be suitable for this type of exercise as well?

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This Clinical Review found weaknesses in hip abductors, external rotators and hip flexors on the involved side as compared to the uninvolved side in runners with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) and iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS). So an important factor is the strength of one hip relative to the other, making sure that you strengthen both equally. And I would emphasize abduction over adduction. I was surprised at the hip flexors weakness vs the extensors in the review. –  BackInShapeBuddy Jul 16 at 6:51
    
@BackInShapeBuddy Could you add that as an answer? –  Thomas Owens Jul 16 at 9:52
    
I just commented because it wasn't a complete answer, but I did make it an answer for you - see below. –  BackInShapeBuddy Jul 16 at 20:00

2 Answers 2

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As for the number of sets and reps, that depends on what your goal is, and what part of periodization you are in. If you are aiming at increasing strength and speed in running i suggest you do 1-4 reps at above 85% for all exercises. I am a sprinter and this is what I do. It will increase your speed potential, so that you exert less force when you run at X m/s than before. Doing high force/low reps increases neural output and muscular force production, which will make any subsequent training easier and more efficient. For example, if you get 10% faster, you will run 10% faster (or longer in the same time period) in your distance training, and as such increase intensity/volume and fitness. There might be some merit in doing high reps, >20-30, in long distance running. However, the main aspect of increasing performance in long distance running should be running itself. With strength training being an add-on.

As for the type of exercise, the prime movers in running are the hip extensors (glutes and hamstrings). Adductors also play a role in extending the hip, but not as much for long distance as compared to sprinting. Abductors are mainly stabilizers in running. It makes sense to strengthen them in case your hip tilts when you run; they only need to be adequately strong; if you don't tilt your hip toward the end of the runs you have no need for extra strength there. Hip flexors are secondary movers in running; very important for sprinting, but not so much in long distance running.

If you are aiming at maximizing performance in your long distance running with minimal time investment, then focus on hip extensors. If you have time, then you can add flexors, adductors and abductors to your regimen, in that order. For more efficient training, look up "periodization". I would recommend Periodization for Sports by Tudor O. Bompa.

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I read an article earlier about lower reps at higher weights (3-4 reps at 85-90% of max) and how they say more significant gains than higher reps at lower weights (3 sets of 10 reps, 70% of max). However, my goal is general fitness and not necessarily amazing running times (although I am planning on a distance medley next year - a 5K, a 10K, and a half marathon over 5 months), so I'm leaning toward keeping my current routine, but with more appropriate hip exercises. –  Thomas Owens Jul 15 at 16:08
    
Given that I tend to run longer distances, would you still suggest extensors, flexors, adductors, and abductors in that order? Given the middle paragraph, it seems like extensors and abductors are more prevalent in longer distance runs (my normal runs are more than 5k, and I am planning on getting up to half marathon distances), followed by flexors and adductors. –  Thomas Owens Jul 15 at 16:11
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Doing high force/low reps increases neural output and muscular force production, which will make any subsequent training easier and more efficient. For example, if you get 10% faster, you will run 10% faster (or longer in the same time period) in your distance training, and as such increase intensity/volume and fitness. Extensors need to be strong. Abductors only need to be adequately strong; if you don't tilt your hip toward the end of the runs you have no need for extra strength there. Flexors are used in every stride (so they come second), but they don't work as hard as extensors. –  Darko Sarovic Jul 15 at 22:23
    
Thanks for the clarification. I'm going to give it a little longer before I accept, but this answer pretty much covers everything. Could you just incorporate parts of that comment into the answer just so it's more readily visible? Thanks, again. –  Thomas Owens Jul 15 at 23:50

Importance of Equal Hip Strength Bilaterally

This Clinical Review found weaknesses in hip abductors, external rotators and hip flexors on the involved side as compared to the uninvolved side in runners with patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) and iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS). So an important factor is the strength of one hip relative to the other, making sure that you strengthen both sides equally. And I would emphasize abduction over adduction. I was surprised at the hip flexors weakness vs the extensors in the review.

Your machines address flexion/extension and abd/adduction. The hip abduction machine will also target some of the lateral (external rotators). To further target your lateral (external) rotators you can use cables to isolate or to address both internal and external muscles functionally in standing.

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