Weight Lifting to Strengthen the Hips

Squats develop the glutes, the largest of the hip extensors.

Squats develop the glutes, the largest of the hip extensors.

Surrounding your hips are an array of muscles that lift up your legs, pull them out to the sides and drive them back behind you. To strengthen all of these muscles, your workout will feature a battery of hip exercises that force you to move your legs in all these different directions. This is a great workout for women, as those who lack strength in their hips are at a greater risk of knee pain, notes a 2012 study published in the "Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy."

Schedule

Schedule your hip weight-training workouts two to three days per week. The muscles surrounding your hips need enough time to fully recover in between your training sessions, as it’s during the rest periods that those muscles will gain strength and size. Follow a Monday, Wednesday and Friday or a Monday and Thursday schedule. As your workouts increase in volume and you’re completing exercises for more sets and with more weight, your muscles will need two days of rest and a two-workout-per-week schedule will be more appropriate.

Exercises

The muscles surrounding your hips include your glutes, which are responsible for extending your hips. Your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are considered hip abductors and they lift up and spread out your legs. The iliopsoas, sartorius, rectus femoris and tensor fasciae latae muscles are hip flexors and pull your legs forward. You can develop all of these muscles with a total of four exercises. For your glutes, incorporate squats and lunges into your workout. Your hip abductors contribute to both the squat and lunge exercise, but you can isolate them by performing lying hip abduction. To develop your hip flexors, complete lying leg raise.

Workout

To strengthen all the muscles around your hips, perform each of the four exercises at a volume of three sets each. You might need to use a barbell or a pair of dumbbells when performing squats and lunges. Start out by performing the exercises with just your own bodyweight. As you build strength, choose a weight that will cause your hips and legs to become fatigued within 10 repetitions. The lying hip abduction and lying leg raise are both performed while lying on a mat and using your own body weight. Complete each set for 15 to 20 repetitions each. If you’d like to increase the intensity, strap on an ankle weight.

Considerations

Perform the squat and lunge exercise at the beginning of your workout and then move onto the mat exercises. Squats and lunges are compound weight-training exercises that require the contribution of a number of muscle groups. You don’t want your hip abductors and flexors to be fatigued from the mat exercises and then be limited in their contribution when you move onto the compound exercises.

 

About the Author

Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images