5 Best Exercises for Hips (Strength & Power Routines)

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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Having strong and stable hips is essential for staying active and injury-free. But, while we know they are important, it can take time to figure out the best exercises for targeting hips.

Over the past decade, I have designed countless routines for my fitness clients and incorporated hip-specific movements to develop their muscle stability and reduce lower back stress.

This article will outline some of the best hip exercises to strengthen hip muscles and increase physical activity.

Let’s begin.

Quick Summary

  • The five best exercises for strengthening the hips include Weighted Sumo Squat, Hip Marching, Leg Raises, Kettlebell Swing, and Lateral Lunges.
  • These exercises strengthen hip muscles and increase physical activity, targeting the hip flexors, hip abductors, and gluteal muscles.
  • According to the National Institute of Health, there are approximately 20 hip muscles, including hip flexors and abductors, emphasizing the importance of hip strength for various body functions.
  • In my view, strengthening hip muscles not only improves physical performance in activities like running and jumping but also plays a crucial role in reducing back strain and improving posture.

Hip Strengthening Exercises

A man and woman performing the best hip exercises

As a trainer, I recommend these exercises for strengthening your hips, and the great news is that they can easily be done at home.

1. Weighted Sumo Squat

First, choose a dumbbell or weighted plate appropriate for your fitness level.

  • Standing, hold the weight in front of your chest.
  • Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  • Point your toes slightly pointed outward.
  • Bend your knees, lowering down into a squat position.
  • Push through your heels as you return to standing, squeezing your glutes at the top.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.

2. Hip Marching

Begin by sitting on the edge of a chair or bench with knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

  • Keep your right knee bent and raise it as high as you can.
  • Slowly lower and repeat with the left knee.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.
  • Increase the sets and reps as you get stronger.

3. Leg Raises

Doing leg raises exercise

To begin, lie on your right side, propping your upper body with your elbow.

  • Keep your right leg on the ground.
  • Raise your left leg as high as possible.
  • Do not bend the body or leg.
  • At the top, hold the position for five seconds.
  • Lower down to the starting position and repeat for 8-10 reps.
  • Switch sides.

4. Kettlebell Swing

Pick a kettlebell weight that is appropriate for your fitness level.

  • Place a kettlebell on the ground between your legs, and stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hinge forward, bending your knees into a squat, and grab the kettlebell handle with both hands.
  • Swing the kettlebell between your legs and stand up.
  • Use the momentum from your hips to reach chest level with the weight.
  • At the top, squeeze the glutes and keep your core engaged.
  • Lower back down and repeat the movement.
  • Perform 8-10 reps.

5. Lateral Lunges

A woman doing lateral lunges

Begin the lateral lunge by standing with your feet together and your arms at your sides with a dumbbell in each hand.

  • Take a big step to your right (about 2 feet).
  • When your right foot hits the floor, bend forward at the hips, push your butt back, bend your right knee, and lower into a lunge position.
  • Your arms should be straight with the weights on either side of your knee.
  • Keep your left leg straight.
  • Pause for a moment before pushing off your right leg back to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the other leg to complete one rep.
  • Perform 8-10 reps.

“Everyone can benefit from hip conditioning, even if you don’t have any hip concerns. Stretching and strengthening these muscles can help build stability and flexibility.

- Emily Cronkleton, Certified Yoga Instructor

Hip Exercises for Mobility

Doing hip exercises and stretches

The following are the best hip strengthening exercises for mobility and can improve blood circulation.

1. Butterfly Stretch

You will sit on the floor for this stretch.

  • Bend your knees, placing the bottoms of your feet together.
  • With your elbows, press your knees down toward the floor.
  • Keep your upper body straight.
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds.

In time, you can bring your feet closer to the body to achieve a deeper stretch.

Read More: Best Stretches For Hip Pain: Release Tension and Boost Mobility

2. Hip Circles

Hips circles are a standing exercise that requires balance on one foot, so if you feel unstable, you can use a wall or chair for support.

  • Begin with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Stand on your left foot with your right leg extended.
  • Move your right leg in small circles.
  • Perform 20 clockwise motions and then 20 counter-clockwise motions.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

3. Leg Swings

Stand up straight and ensure your hips are square. Hang onto a railing or chair with your left hand for stability.

  • Cross the left leg over the right leg.
  • Raise the left leg as high as you can, using a slow and controlled motion.
  • Try to get your lifted leg parallel to the floor.
  • Hold briefly and then lower.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.
  • Switch sides and repeat with the right leg.

Related: Hip Mobility Exercises

Why Exercising This Part of the Body Is Important

Doing stretches top view

According to the National Institute of Health, there are approximately 20 hip muscles, including the hip flexors, hip abductors, gluteus maximus, and gluteus medius [1].

I always advise keeping them strong to support the body in various ways.

These include:

  • Supporting the pelvis and core,
  • Powering movements like running, jumping, and walking,
  • Reducing back strain,
  • Improving athletic performance,
  • Decreasing hip pain,
  • Reducing injury risk,
  • Promoting good posture.

Combining Hip Exercises with Cardiovascular Training

Combining hip exercises with cardiovascular training offers holistic fitness benefits.

  • Hip exercises, like squats and lunges, strengthen the hip flexors and extensors, crucial for stability and injury prevention. When integrated with cardiovascular activities like running, cycling, or swimming, these exercises enhance endurance and promote efficient movement patterns.

This synergy improves overall cardiovascular health by increasing heart rate and oxygen consumption, aiding in weight management through higher calorie burn.

Additionally, stronger hips improve balance and agility, reducing the risk of falls and strains during cardio workouts.

This combination ensures a well-rounded approach to fitness, addressing both strength and cardiovascular endurance.

FAQs

Are Squats Good for Hips?

Yes, squats are good for the hips because they can help build the glutes, which can help take the stress off the hip joint. The Sumo squat is an excellent squat variation for targeting the hips.

How Long Does It Take To Tone Hips?

How long it takes to tone hips depends on the frequency and intensity of your hip-targeting sessions; however, with consistency, you should see minor improvements within a month and a more remarkable difference in three to four.

How Can I Enlarge My Hips and Buttocks Naturally?

To naturally enlarge hips and buttocks, focus on exercises like squats, lunges, and glute bridges. Maintain a balanced diet rich in proteins and healthy fats. Consistency and patience are key for gradual, natural enhancement.


References: 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526019/
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