Since hips are essential for everyday movements like walking, running, and climbing stairs, weak and tight hip flexors can significantly deteriorate your quality of life.
In all my years of training people on all fitness levels, I’ve noticed that weak hips are a common setback for many of them.
However, the good news is that weak hips aren’t irreversible, as the right exercises can fix them. In this article, we’ll take you through six of those exercises that have worked the best for my clients.
- Exercises like bridges, lunges, Bulgarian split squats, and straight leg raises are compound movements that strengthen the hips and surrounding muscles.
- Stretching only a weak hip muscle won’t help, as you’ll get better results by combining strengthening and stretching exercises.
- The hips comprise four muscles: the Iliopsoas, rectus femoris, sartorius, and tensor fasciae latae.
Best Hip Flexor Exercises
Before diving into our exercise list, let’s look at what exactly the hip flexor muscles are.
What Are Hip Flexors?
The hip flexors are a group of muscles located in the front of your hip joint. Their primary function is to bend or flex the hip.
There are four main hip flexor muscles .
These muscles include the following:
- Iliopsoas (the primary hip flexors)
- Rectus femoris
- Tensor fasciae latae
Best Hip Flexor Exercises
Here are our top four hip-strengthening exercises.
Bridges primarily target your glute muscles, but you can modify them to work on your hips.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms straight and by your sides, palms facing down.
- Lift your hips off the ground while engaging your core muscles and squeezing the glutes until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Hold this position for a few seconds while focusing on pulling your knees towards your chest (this will activate your hip muscles).
- Slowly lower your hips back down to the starting position, and repeat for reps.
Lunges are an excellent lower-body exercise that also emphasizes a hip flexor stretch.
Here’s how to get your hip flexors really involved with the lunge:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips.
- Take a big step forward with your left foot, and lower yourself till your left thigh is parallel to the floor and your knee directly above your ankles.
- Hold this position for a few seconds while squeezing the right glute and pulling your right hip forward (this will engage the hips).
- Push off with your left foot back to the starting position.
- Repeat for reps and switch to the right leg.
3. Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian split squat might be a little challenging for beginners, so we recommend this exercise for intermediate and advanced lifters.
- Stand facing away from a bench with your feet about hip-width apart and your knees bent.
- Extend your right leg behind you and place the top of your right foot flat on the bench, with the right knee slightly bent.
- Step forward with your left foot, and lower your body down by bending the left knee, keeping your right leg extended behind you and firm on the bench.
- As you lower yourself, squeeze your left glute and pull your left hip forward to engage the left hip.
- Hold this position for a few seconds while focusing on your hip flexor.
- Push off with your left leg and return to the top. Repeat for reps.
- Switch legs, and do the same.
Also Read: Best Adductor Exercises
4. Seat Straight Leg Raises
The seat straight leg raise is perfect for beginners because it’s friendly on the knees.
Here’s how to perform it:
- Sit on a chair with your back straight and feet flat on the floor.
- Extend your left leg straight out and keep the foot flexed.
- Hold your legs straight and extended in that position for a few seconds, and focus on the hip muscles.
- Lower your leg back down and repeat for reps.
- Do the same for the right leg.
Also Read: Best Leg Exercises for Weight Loss
Stretching Your Hips
In many cases, painful hips could be a result of muscle tightness. In such cases, I highly recommend hip flexor stretches.
Here’s how you do a proper hip flexor stretch:
- Kneel on the floor.
- Bring your left leg in front of you so your left thigh is parallel to the floor and your left knee is bent at 90 degrees.
- Keeping the right knee on the floor, bend your weight forward until you feel a stretch on the front right thigh and groin area.
- For an even deeper stretch, raise your right arm overhead and turn to the left slightly. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Should I Stretch Weak Hip Flexors?
No, you should not stretch weak hip flexors.
In many cases, you can achieve good hip mobility through strengthening exercises.
In my experience with training clients, stretching a weak muscle only makes it weaker.
That’s why strength training for both women and men is an integral part of mobility training.
“Hips play an important role in knee alignment, so strengthening your hips can also improve knee and leg pain.”
- Dr. Christopher R. Boone, Orthopedic Surgeon
Working Out Safely
Like any other muscle, your hips need proper care and consideration to strengthen and become more mobile. So, here are some safety tips to make the most out of your hip workout:
- Warm up properly: Warm up with a brisk walk and dynamic stretches to get your blood flowing for exercising.
- Use proper form: You can easily damage a weak muscle by working out with the poor form. Working out with proper form means lower intensity and lighter weight till you get better with the movement.
- Proper recovery: Ensure you recover your hip muscles with lots of rest, a healthy diet, and a good protein supplement.
What Is the Best Exercise for Hip Flexor Pain?
The best exercise for hip flexor pain is a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises. If your hip pain is due to weakness, the psoas march will help. If the pain is due to soreness, perform a supine hip flexor stretch.
What Are the Symptoms of Tight Hip Flexors?
Symptoms of tight hip flexors include changes in gait and posture, knee pain, hip pain, and back pain. You may also experience difficulty with walking, bending, and standing.
Does Walking Strengthen Your Hip Flexors?
Yes, walking strengthens your hip flexors. But it’s not as effective as doing compound movements that strengthen the hip muscles.
Is Cycling Good for Hip Flexors?
Yes, cycling is good for hip flexors. Make sure your legs are fully extended at the bottom of the pedal for full hip engagement.
Fight Weak Hips With Hip Flexor Exercises
Weak hips have a carry-over effect on many movements, which is why strengthening them should be part of your workout regimen.
Part of strengthening your hip muscles includes fast recovery which can be improved with a high-quality protein supplement:
Check out our list of protein powders we thoroughly tested, and pick the one that suits your needs the best.
About The Author
You May Also Like
29 Fitness Trainers Share Their Tips
What To Eat & What Supplements To Take?