Nothing says "sexy" like a strong and toned set of hips. A competitive bodybuilder's shapely hip muscles might even win her a well-deserved trophy, while an athlete knows that her powerful hips can help her achieve her personal best. The results of a well-designed hip workout turns heads at the beach, and sets up a strong foundation for the rest of your body.
About Your Hip Muscles
Your butt and thigh muscles work together to stabilize, align and move your hips. The four basic hip movements include flexion, extension, abduction and adduction. Your quads flex your hips and straighten your knees, while your hamstrings and gluteus maximus extend your hip and bend your knees. Squats, lunges and deadlifts perform hip flexion and extension movements, while your abductors and adductors -- or outer and inner thighs -- stabilize your knees during these exercises. Use the lower part of the cable machine, along with the ankle attachments, to specifically target these muscles. The often under-worked gluteus medius performs external hip rotation. Engage these muscles with the sumo squat, performed in a dancer's turn-out position.
The Female-Specific Mythology
The chirpy chicks on late-night TV infomercials will try to convince you to buy exercise gizmos allegedly designed for a feminine body. Put on your tinfoil hat and go back to sleep. Nadya G. Swedan, author of "Women's Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation," argues that no evidence exists that would warrant advising women to perform female-specific bodybuilding exercises. The female hormone estrogen tends to increase fat storage. While this might explain gender-specific training results, it's nothing that some dietary modification and added cardio can't change.
Squats, and Lunges and Deadlifts...Oh My!
Charlotte Andersen knows a thing about effective workouts. Her book titled "The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything," describes her results after doing many exercise plans. She shares her findings in a "Shape Magazine" article titled "22 Men's Exercises Women Should Do." The Romanian deadlift is one of those "train like a dude" exercises. In addition to the deadlift, certified trainers Katie Lobliner and Derek Charlebois, authors of "Female Fitness Bible," recommend barbell squats and weighted lunges as essential hip exercises for female bodybuilders.
Paging the Glute Guy
Trainer Brent Contreras' obsession with hip extension inspired him to buy a muscle testing machine to determine the effectiveness of different exercises. In an article featured on the T-Nation website, he told extreme bodybuilder readers that if they're just doing squats, lunges and deadlifts, they should be doing things differently. Contreras created bodybuilder variations of exercises typically performed in butt and thigh classes. For the traditional quadruped hip extension, performed on the hands and knees, he places a a plate on one side of the barbell, secures the plate with a collar, then positions his body so that his foot is under the other side of the bar. The Contreras variation of the bridge features a heavy barbell across the stomach. Use a spotter. These exercises are challenging!
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.