Hip Extension Exercises for Improved Strength & Stability

Tracy Thompson
Published by Tracy Thompson | Senior Coach
Last updated: November 29, 2023
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Strong hip extensors are crucial for overall well-being, from enhancing athletic performance to preventing injuries and ensuring optimal daily function.

My experience in fitness training has shown me the hip joint is an easily overlooked area in many workout routines.

After discussing the impact weak hip extensors have on routine balance, coordination, and range of motion, my clients are excited to put hip exercises into their plans.

For this article, I picked six of my favorite exercises that have improved hip mobility in both my clients and me.

Let’s jump in.

Quick Summary

  • The best exercises for muscles involved in hip extension include glute bridges, hip thrusts, and kickbacks.
  • Hip extensions target the adductor magnus, glutes, and hamstrings.
  • It is essential to incorporate hip extension exercises into your routine, particularly if you have a sedentary job, to prevent tight hip flexors and extensors.

Best Hip Extension Exercises

woman doing hip extension exercises

The exercises we picked will help keep the hip extensors strong and loose, making everyday activities like climbing stairs, walking, and standing from a sitting position easier.

Let’s first quickly explain what hip extension actually is.

What Is Hip Extension?

Hip extension movement is the act of driving your hips forward. It is when the angle between your pelvis and thigh increases, opening the hip joint.

An extension is the opposite of hip flexion, which occurs when you decrease the angle between the thigh and pelvis.

You extend your hips during routine activities like standing from a sitting position, jumping, kicking, climbing stairs, and walking.

Okay, with that out of the way, we can dive into the exercises.

Aim for good form rather than speed while performing these exercises for maximum benefit and injury prevention.

Glute Bridge

Doing glute bridges indoors

The hip extension relies primarily on the glutes, so this movement is perfect for strengthening those three muscles.

Bridges can also support the hip flexors, making it an excellent whole-hip exercise.

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Lie down on your back.
  • Have your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. They should be just wider than hip-width apart.
  • There should be no arch to your spine.
  • Push through your heels to bridge yourself off the ground until you form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Squeeze your glutes as you push up and hold this position at the top.
  • Slowly lower yourself until you are lying on the floor again, keeping tension in your glutes.
  • Repeat 10-15 times for 2-3 sets.

Hip Thrusts

You can add difficulty to this exercise by holding a barbell or a dumbbell across your hips.

Here’s how to do them: 

  • Sit with your upper back against a flat bench, feet planted firmly on the floor in front of you, hip-width apart.
  • Lift your hips off the floor until there is a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  • Squeeze your glutes as you lift and hold this position at the top for a few seconds.
  • Slowly lower yourself back down until your glutes touch the ground again, keeping them engaged.
  • Repeat for 10-15 reps.
  • Aim for 2-3 sets.

Quadruped Hip Extension

Quadruped hip extension with resistance band

This classic hip extension exercise is also known as "donkey kicks." It will work the gluteus maximus and the other muscles involved when the hip extends, like the gluteus medius and rectus femoris.

Here’s how to do it: 

  • The starting position of this exercise is quadruped, meaning you are on all fours.
  • Place your shoulders directly over your wrists and hips in line with your knees.
  • Move one leg up so your knee is at a 90-degree angle, and lift your heel toward the ceiling until it’s at hip level.
  • Squeeze the glutes as you go up and hold at the top of the movement for a few seconds.
  • Slowly return to the start and repeat with the opposite leg.
  • Aim for 10-15 reps per leg for 2-3 sets total.

Step Ups

Increase the intensity of this exercise by holding dumbbells, helping develop stronger glutes and core, and improving balance, coordination, and range of motion.

Here’s how to do them: 

  • Choose a sturdy bench or step wide enough to fit both feet.
  • Stand facing it with feet hip-width apart.
  • Place one right foot on the bench, keeping the left foot on the floor.
  • Push down with your right leg, bringing your body up until both feet are on the bench.
  • Lower yourself back down by bending the knee of your right leg, then lower your left leg back to the floor, completing one rep.
  • Repeat for 10-15 reps before switching legs.
  • Aim for 2-3 sets.

“Having strong hip extensor muscles helps to stabilize the pelvis, reduce strain on the back, and can help improve your athletic performance in sports that require a lot of power.”
- Katey Davidson, MScFN, CPT

Standing Hip Extension

Doing hip extension while standing

You can give your hip extensors a greater workout by performing this exercise with a resistance band placed just above your ankles.

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, placing your hands on a wall or sturdy support.
  • Move one leg behind you, straight and in line with the other foot.
  • The heel of your back foot should be raised off the ground and pointed forward.
  • Keep your hips in line with each other, with your knees slightly bent.
  • Kick back with your leg, pushing through the heel of your back leg and extending your hips backward until you feel a stretch on the side of your hamstrings and glutes.
  • Make sure to keep both legs straight throughout.
  • Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position, completing one rep.
  • Repeat for 10-15 reps on each side for a complete set.
  • Aim for 2-3 sets.

Stability Ball Prone Hip Extension

This movement will primarily target your hamstrings and glutes.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Begin by laying your hips on a stability ball, hanging your legs off the back of the ball.
  • Your toes will lightly touch the floor.
  • Your hands should be on the floor in front of you, palms facing down, and your arms straight.
  • Squeeze your glutes, lifting your legs until they align with your upper body.
  • Engage your core and keep it in contact with the stability ball.
  • Keep your knees straight, and do not overextend your back.
  • Slowly lower your legs and repeat for ten reps.
  • Aim for three sets.

Read Also: Hip Hinge Exercises for Stronger Hamstrings

Why Are Hip Extension Exercises Important?

Woman performing hip exercise

Hip extension exercises are important because they target the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and adductor magnus, the three primary muscles involved with hip extension.

Weak hip extensor muscles will not be able to properly move the hip joint, potentially relying on surrounding muscles for help.

Often this becomes the lower back muscles, leading to pain or injury [1].

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What Muscle Assists Hip Extension?

The muscle that assists hip extension is primarily the gluteus maximus. However, it is also assisted by the hamstrings and the adductor magnus, a triangular-shaped muscle in the thigh.

What Activities Use Hip Extension?

Many activities use the hip extension, including stair climbing, running, jumping, and standing up from sitting.


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31440415/
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