ADX Trend-Based Strategies


The Average Directional Index is a highly-respected tool in many traders’ arsenals, capable of measuring the strength of market trends. This article delves into two ADX-based strategies, exploring how to combine this tool with other popular indicators like RSI and EMA for a well-rounded trading system.

Understanding the ADX Trend Indicator

The Average Directional Index (ADX) is a trend strength indicator commonly used in technical analysis. It helps traders identify the strength of market trends, thereby serving as a key component in crafting an effective trend trading strategy.

Originally developed by Welles Wilder, the ADX oscillates between 0 and 100, providing a quantitative measure of trend strength. When its value is below 25, the trend is typically weak or non-existent. Conversely, readings above 25 signify a stronger trend, with values over 50 suggesting a very strong trend. Traders often use these numerical benchmarks to assess whether to enter or exit a trade based on the prevailing trend conditions.

Importantly, this tool does not indicate the direction of the trend; rather, it measures the trend's intensity. Therefore, it is often used in conjunction with other indicators to provide a complete picture of market conditions. This makes the ADX a versatile and valuable indicator for any trader aiming to build a robust trend trading strategy.

Basic Parameters for ADX

The ADX usually comes with a default setting of a 14-period lookback. This means the indicator evaluates the trend strength based on the last 14 bars, whether you're using a daily, hourly, or any other time frame.

In most trading platforms, including FXOpen’s own TickTrader platform, setting up the ADX involves selecting it from the platform's list and then choosing the period parameter. Some traders tweak the period to fit their trading style, although caution is advised when straying from the standard settings.

Interpreting ADX signals is straightforward: a rising value suggests an intensifying trend, while a falling value indicates a weakening trend. This makes it easier for traders to gauge market conditions and determine their trend-following strategy.

ADX and RSI Strategy

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) is often dubbed one of the best trend indicators when used in combination with ADX. When employed together, they form a powerful duo to identify trend strength and market momentum.

For this strategy, both indicators are used at their default settings: a 14-period lookback for both ADX and RSI. Horizontal lines are drawn at 45 and 55 on the RSI window and at 25 on the ADX window to serve as reference points.


  • When the RSI rises above 55 or falls below 45, traders wait for the ADX to cross above the 25 level to enter.

It's discretionary for traders to decide whether to enter when the RSI is in overbought (above 70) or oversold (below 30) territories. While these conditions may offer trading opportunities, they can also be riskier as the trend could easily continue.

Stop Loss

  • Traders often position a stop loss above or below a nearby swing point to protect their trades.

Take Profit

  • Profits may be taken when the ADX falls below 25, signalling a weakening trend.
  • Alternatively, traders can opt to exit the trade at a predetermined support or resistance level.

ADX and EMA Strategy

The Exponential Moving Average (EMA) is a type of moving average that responds quickly to price changes and new trends. For this setup, the EMA is configured to a 28-period lookback, while the ADX retains its default 14-period setting. The EMA is essentially another trend filter, acting as a useful baseline for trend direction.


  • Traders look for entry opportunities when the price is either above or below the 28-period EMA, indicating the direction of the trend.
  • Once the ADX crosses above 25, confirming trend strength, traders wait for the price to retrace back to the EMA line to enter the trade.

Stop Loss

  • A stop loss may be positioned just beyond the EMA.
  • Alternatively, placing the stop loss at a nearby swing point offers another way to mitigate risk.

Take Profit

  • Profits might be taken when the ADX falls below the 25 level, suggesting that the trend may be losing momentum.
  • As another option, traders may choose to exit at a predetermined support or resistance level.

Benefits and Risks of ADX Trend Trading Strategies

Understanding the benefits and risks associated with ADX-based strategies is crucial for traders aiming for consistent returns. Here's a breakdown:


  • Objective Trend Strength: ADX quantifies trend strength, removing subjective guesswork.
  • Versatility: ADX can be combined with various other indicators like RSI and EMA to create multi-dimensional strategies.
  • Clear Signals: Thresholds like ADX 25 provide clear, easy-to-understand entry and exit signals.


  • Lagging Indicator: Being a trend-following tool, ADX can lag, potentially causing late entries or exits.
  • False Signals: Market volatility can lead to false ADX signals, especially in lower time frames.

The Bottom Line

In essence, mastering the ADX indicator can equip traders with the ability to discern even stock trend patterns effectively. Its versatility and simplicity mean it’s a great inclusion for trend-following strategies. The strategies given here offer a foundation to work with, but it’s well worth experimenting for yourself and seeing how the ADX works in practice.

If you’re looking to put these trading techniques into practice, you can consider opening an FXOpen account. You’ll gain access to the advanced TickTrader platform, hundreds of markets to choose from, and competitive trading fees. Good luck!

This article represents the opinion of the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand only. It is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation with respect to products and services provided by the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand, nor is it to be considered financial advice.

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