The selectorized thigh machines and devices hocked on late night TV infomercials and positioned in the “ladies” section of the gym floor are, for the most part, useless. For many users, not only do these machines not work the way they are supposed to but in fact contribute to the thickening of the thighs and ‘saddle bags’. Say what? “I thought these devices purportedly ‘melt’ the fat away from your butt, thighs and hips” rued the leotard wearing, Jazzersizing 1986 gym goer. Scientifically speaking this is totally bunk. It is not possible to reduce fatty spots on the human body simply by exercising that area. You cannot spot reduce fat unless you go under the knife, though liposuction doesn’t work so well either.
Using the abductor/adductor machines will not slim your glutes and thighs. It is no coincidence many of those who use these machines regularly have thick thighs and hips. Susanne Summers, star of the 1980’s sitcom “Three’s Company” bears some responsibility for perpetuating the myth that women can actually trim their big thighs by spending enough time on the ThighMaster (and apparatus like this). These adductor/abductor machines work small muscles in contrastive isolation, called the gluteus medius and hip adductor group. Contracting small muscles in relative isolation will not require much energy. These moves will not increase your metabolic rate and/or add to a positive hormonal response resulting in significant weight loss. In fact, after progressive use you will likely increase the size of the lean muscle mass in the area which will ‘push’ the fat farther out giving you the appearance of larger thighs. Ughh!
These machines are a throwback to a bodybuilding era which emphasized muscles over movement. They have no functional use (in rehab settings for certain injuries they may be utilized). Rarely would you would use these muscles in a similar pattern during the course of daily activity. In effect you are training these muscles to become somewhat compensatory or even dysfunctional. Continually repeating these exercises can open you up to muscle imbalances and eventual injury. Furthermore, if done with excessive weight and jerky technique it can put undue pressure on your spine, resulting in back pain.
If your goal is to lose the fat around your hips and thighs, I recommend you stay away from the add/abd machines and do these three simple things:
- A sensible diet with lots of non-starchy vegetables, low sugar fruit (berries and citrus), healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, coconut oil and grass-fed organic beef & yogurt) and minimal processed food and sugar.
- A customized resistance training (weight lifting) routine done 2 to 3 times per week with a focus on movements not muscles.
- An increase in your non-exercise activity like walking, standing, hiking, recreational sports, biking and even fidgeting.
Is there ever a good time to use the add/abd machines? Sure, to use them to rest on in between sets of lunges, squats or deadlifts! These aforementioned exercises are much better substitutes for creating strength and stimulating muscle and fat loss than most any selectorized apparatus.