Our hips are the base of our core. Many of the muscles that support our torso originate in our hip girdle, so it’s paramount to have a strong, supportive base of control in our hips. My favourite tool for healthy hips are what I call ‘smarter strength’ exercises. These are moves to engage varying muscles of the hips in a functional way.
Why are smarter strength exercises for the hips important?
Because they target the many muscles that support the hips. We want to strengthen the glutes, adductors (inner thighs), deep lower abdominals and lateral hip stabilizers while maintaining great alignment of the rest of our body. Strong hips are key in maintaining the health of our low back, the functionality of our core and in preventing a variety of common injuries.
When I say ‘keep good alignment’ what I’m referring to is the position of our torso. We want the rib cage stacked over top of the hips rather than popping out to the front or collapsing down posteriorly.
Here are three must do exercises to focus on strengthening the many muscles of the hips:
Ball Squeeze Hamstring Curl
Strengthens glute maximus, hamstrings, adductors.
Equipment: Exercise ball, small pilates ball and mat.
Cues: Keep hips elevated as much as possible without arching into the low back, drag heels to butt while keeping hips elevated and squeezing gently yet consistently on the small ball between your knees. Relax feet and upper body..
Quadruped Superman Hip Extension
Strengthens glutes, abdominals, back extensors.
Equipment: Super band exercise tubing, mat.
Cues: Keep shoulders stacked over top of wrists. Do not drop down into low back. As you press your heel back, keep a strong core engagement through glutes and lower abdominals without dropping the low back as you extend your leg.
Side Plank Hip Abduction
Strengthens glute medius, obliques.
Cues: Position elbow directly under shoulder, and keep torso in neutral alignment. Do not collapse into shoulder, press away from the mat. As you press away from the mat, keep rib cage engaged down toward the hip bones vs. popping out through the front of your ribs.
Add the exercises above into your workouts by starting with 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions. When paired with mobility work, good breathing, a healthy standing and sitting strategies, consistent strength training that targets the many muscles of the hip is great for increasing muscle definition, reducing injury and improving quality of life.
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