To develop lean and strong hips, choose exercises that move the hips through their entire range of motion. The ball and socket joint of the hip allows the leg to move front to back, side to side and in a complete circle. By incorporating exercises that include these movements, you target the entire hip area.
The versatility of the cable machine provides the advantage of challenging the hips in various directions. With the foot strap attachment use the cables for hip abduction, adduction, flexion and rotation by changing the direction of the body. For the outer hip area, place your foot in the strap and lift the leg to the side or straight back. For leg circles, keep the foot lifted and do small hip circles in each direction.
With foot straps similar to the cable machine, the Pilates Reformer is a great option for toning the hips. The Reformer adds the benefit of larger hip rotation movements, allowing the muscles to be challenged through their complete range of motion. Movements like leg circles, frog and bridge tone the thighs by creating long, lean muscles. Take a Reformer class at a local studio or work with a trainer during a private session for the safest and best results.
With its added cardiovascular element, the heavy bag is a great piece of equipment for toning the outer thigh and hips. Side, front and roundhouse kicks all engage the hip muscles while increasing the heart rate. Using the target of a heavy bag provides added resistance, increases bone density and relieves some serious stress. Work with a trainer or workout partner to keep an eye on your form and hold the bag in position while you kick it.
Resistance tubing is useful at home or as a piece of on-the-go equipment. Simulate cable machine exercises by tying one end around a sturdy piece of furniture or pole and the other around your ankle. Lift your leg to the side or straight back to target the hips. Use the tubing to perform other exercises like standing hip walks, side lying leg lifts and glute presses. Keep the number of repetitions high to increase the intensity for your hip workout.
Vicki Vara has been a fitness professional for more than 15 years, working in health clubs, studios and schools. She is certified as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, holistic nutrition consultant and Pilates instructor. Vara holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science from the University of Delaware.