Real women have hips, and shapely ones, at that. Strong, well-toned hips are not just beautiful. They dance, they hike mountains, they run for miles and play all sorts of sports. Sculpting a shapely set of hips is an art form, which demands a sense of symmetry and balance. A combination of large and small muscle exercises does the trick.
The Hippest Aerobics
There's no such thing as Santa Claus or spot reduction. Get over it. While hip exercises won't make you "lose inches," aerobic workouts burn away excess body fat. You might, however, have to work harder than your husband. Your body has alpha and beta fat receptors. Alpha receptors cause fat cells to produce more fat. Beta receptors break down fat. In a women's hip region, alphas outnumber the betas, 9 to 1. This implies that your hip area favors fat storage over fat mobilization, so your aerobic workout might need a good kick in the butt. Add some hills, increase your speed and lengthen your cardio workout. You'll burn body fat and engage your hip muscles.
The Dancer's Secret
That enviable definition in a dancer's hip muscles comes from an undying dedication to gluteus medius exercises. These muscles sit on the upper, outer part of your butt, and control external hip rotation, otherwise known as turnout. Turnout, which involves rotating the legs in their sockets so that your knees face outward, is a dancer's holy grail. The International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) created a supplemental training program for dancer's turnout.
Hip Rotation Exercises
One IADMS exercise, called the clam-shell, is performed side-lying, with your knees bent and your feet aligned directly under your pelvis. Rotate your top leg so that your knee faces toward the ceiling, then return to the starting position. Other external hip rotation exercises come from Dr. Joel A. DeLisa, editor of "Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: Principles and Practice". DeLisa suggests a physical therapy device called the rotating disc, which resembles the lazy Susan trays in your grandma's cupboard. Align two discs side by side, and stand at the center of each disc with your feet parallel. Initiating the movement from your hip sockets, externally rotate both legs, then return them to parallel.
The squat is the classic hip-shaping exercise, but in its basic form, it gets old very fast. Break up the boredom with the sumo squat, which is a squat performed with your legs in a turned-out position. The word "sumo" evokes images of enormous wrestling dudes with tiny ponytails. Not too appealing. Think of the sumo squat as a plie. Former ballet dancer Jacqui Greene Haus, author of "Dance Anatomy," has her own version of this exercise. Stand with your back against a wall, and place a medium-sized ball between the wall and the back of your legs. Bend your knees, and press your thighs outward against the balls. Perform 15 repetitions.
- Scientific American: Is Cellulite Forever?
- Harvard Health Letter: Belly Fat Worse Than Hip and Thigh Fat
- Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: Principles and Practice; Joel A. DeLisa, Bruce M. Gans, Nicolas E. Walsh
- Dance Anatomy; Jacque Greene Haas
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.