Strengthen the hip abductors and improve leg height to the side

Katrina Motley Side Développé

Extreme range of motion at the hip is essential to achieve the desired dance aesthetic. The ability to externally rotate or turn out the hip is fundamental to ballet.

Strengthening the hip abductors is key for achieving a high leg height to the side in a développé or extension. This muscle group is responsible for lifting the leg to the side.

However, a common muscular imbalance found in dancers is tight and weak abductors. Muscular imbalances can lead to compensating and incorrect form, which can result in injury. The repetitive nature of ballet and most sports can cause certain muscle groups to work way more than others leading to a muscular imbalance. This type of work can inhibit a dancer or athlete from attaining peak performance if a weakness or tightness is never addressed.

Strengthen the abductors with monster walks.


SET UP: Standing with legs shoulder-width apart on the foam pad, take the loops in your hands. Slightly bend the elbows, keeping them glued by your side (not going behind you), with palms facing up, maintaining a bicep curl. Pull up enough so you feel resistance in your legs and arms.


Begin by pressing out with your right leg and step diagonally forward.

Repeat with the left, and continue with 10 walks forward and 10 walks back. Make sure to keep your legs shoulder-width apart as you walk, and keep the tension in the band.

REPETITION: Begin with 5 walks forward and 5 walks back

SETS:   3-5 sets

CUES:  Watch out for the pelvis tilting. Keep the hip bones level and concentrate on movement in the leg only.

MODIFICATIONS: Take smaller or bigger steps.

MUSCLES TARGETED: abductors and glutes

The muscles acting in the hip abduction are:

1) Gluteus Medius

2) Gluteus Minimum

3) Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL)

4) Sartorius

References:  Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology,  Karen S. Clippinger