When it comes to the best hip and thigh exercises for women, everyone has an opinion. Elite male fitness trainers may have studied the female hip and thigh, but they have never owned a pair. The fitness celebrity may try to sell you the latest hip and thigh exercise gizmo. Elite female trainers will back up their exercise advice with frequently updated research. These are your go-to gals for hip and thigh workouts.
Liz Neporent is author of "The Ultimate Body: 10 Perfect Workouts for Women." In her book "Weight Training for Dummies," Liz recommends the quadruped hip extension, performed on the hands and knees. An American Council on Exercise study rated this as the most effective hip area exercise. Neporent also suggests side-lying leg lifts for the outer thigh muscles. Both of these exercises use resistance bands. When asked about the best gym equipment for women, Neporent told Fitness Magazine that the leg press provides the most efficient glute and quadriceps workout.
Step aerobics queen Gin Miller steps off the box with with her integrated functional strength program, a workout that adds variety to already effective hip and thigh exercises. Miller adds a literal to twist to the bridge exercise, thereby targeting your often neglected internal hip rotators. Assume the bridge position, rotate both legs to the left, then straighten your left leg. Repeat to the right. Miller's lunge makeover adds outer thigh and external hip rotation to the mix. Step back with your left leg to perform the lunge. Return to the start, lifting your left knee and bringing toward your chest. Straighten your left leg, bring it out to the side, then circle it around to the starting position.
Boasting a degree in Exercise Science and Sport Performance from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Shannon Clark is a frequent contributor to BodyBuilding .com and other fitness publications. She's a big fan of the barbell squat for hips and thighs, but warns that women often don't go through the full range of motion. Unless you have knee problems, go as low as possible. That's where the glutes and hamstrings kick in. The dumbbell step up, another winner in the American Council on Exercise glute study, also appears on Clark's list of best lower body exercises for women.
Stott Pilates Master Instructor trainer PJ O'Clair has written countless articles for industry publications. She was the recipient of the 2008 IDEA Program Director of the Year award. By creating stability ball variations of Pilates exercises, O'Clair gives some extra TLC to important muscle groups for women. Her one-legged stability ball bridge exercises put added focus on the hamstrings, an often weak muscle group in women. During the side plank series, she places your top leg on the stability ball. Once you lift your hips from the floor, your inner thighs must contract to maintain stability. These muscles protect your knees during sports, and look absolutely marvelous when you walk around in a bathing suit.
- Liznep.com: Liz Neporent
- American Council on Exercise: Glutes to the Max
- Weight Training for Dummies; Liz Neporent, Suzanne Schlosberg, Shirley J. Archer; 2006; pages 347 and 348
- FitnessMagazine: The 5 Best Machines for Women
- BodyBuilding.com: Five Intense Exercises For Strong, Shapely Legs & Glutes
- International Dance Exercise Association: Pilates on the Ball
- IT Stock/Polka Dot/Getty Images