When it comes to toning and sculpting your hips, finding the right exercises (along with a healthy diet) are important.
Strengthening and stretching the muscles in this area will improve stability and flexibility, as well as prevent injury. Additionally, shedding fat and building more muscle mass can help you achieve a more sculpted look.
Learn about 15 hip exercises that are easy to do and don’t require much equipment or space.
Which muscles should you target?
When selecting your hip exercises, try to target the following muscles:
- Gluteus maximus (extensor muscle of the hip)
- Gluteus medius (muscle on the side of the hip)
Basically, your goal should be to stretch and strengthen the back and sides of your hips. But be careful not to overwork the tensor fasciae latae, which is directly in front of the hip joint, as overuse can lead to knee, hip, or back pain.
15 of the best hip exercises
1. Hip circles
This workout builds flexibility and stability. Use a steady object for balance and support.
- Stand and balance on one leg while lifting the other leg
- Move the lifted leg in a circular motion
- Do 15-20 circles in both directions
- Switch to the other leg
- To make this activity more difficult, increase the width of the circles and do 2-3 sets
Squats target a wide range of muscles in the lower body.
- Stand straight with your feet apart
- Make sure to keep your back straight and tall
- Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor
- Pause and hold the position for a few seconds
- Stand back up and repeat 15-20 times
3. Side lunges
These are also known as lateral lunges and are variations of forward lunges. They focus mainly on the lower thigh and hip areas.
- Stand with your feet apart
- With your body straight and core tightened, take a wide step to the right and squat down
- Lower your body until your thigh is parallel to the floor
- Pause and then push off with your left foot and return
- Repeat on both sides 12-16 times
4. Banded walk
This exercise uses a resistance band to maintain tension on your hips while you move horizontally, making it an excellent workout for strengthening the hips and glutes.
- Put the resistance band around your ankles, bend your knees a little, and widen your stance
- Walk to the side without allowing your feet to touch
- Take 10 steps one way and then take 10 steps back to your starting position
- Repeat 2-4 times
5. Side-lying leg lifts
These are isolation workouts that tone and strengthen the hips. Making sure to use the correct posture is critical for this exercise.
- Lie on an exercise mat on your right side
- Slowly lift your top leg (left leg) as high as possible and keep your toes pointed
- Pause at the top and then bring down your leg to the initial position
- Try to keep your pelvis steady and your core engaged
- Repeat a few times on each side
6. Fire hydrant
This exercise focuses on your glutes and hips while engaging your core muscles. If you have issues with your knees, you may have to use a mat for this exercise.
- Bend down onto your hands and knees and make sure to keep your hands above your hands and hips above your knees
- Tighten your core and look straight down
- Lift one of your legs away from your body at a 45 degree angle while keeping your knees at a 90 degree angle
- Lower your leg down to the starting position
- Do 3 sets of 10 reps
- Repeat with the other leg
7. Step ups with weights
These work the muscles in your hips, thighs, and glutes while also working on overall balance and stability.
- Stand with your feet almost hip-width apart with a weight in each hand
- Step onto a chair or step with one foot and drive your left knee up while keeping the weight at your side
- Lower your left leg, stepping backward off the chair or step
- Complete 10-15 reps and then repeat with the other leg
- Do 2-3 sets on each side
8. Jump squats
Jump squats are a plyometric practice that takes normal squats and adds jumps for strength training.
- Position yourself in a basic squat with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Keep your weight on your heels and squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor
- From this position, raise up and squat again
- Repeat for 30 seconds or 10-12 sets
9. Frankenstein walk
This exercise works your hips, quads, and hamstrings and helps increase your range of motion. Maintain good posture, don’t bend at the waist, and increase your speed as you progress.
- Stand straight with your arms stretched out and palms facing down
- Swing your leg up straight out, making a 90 degree angle with your body as you move forward
- Lower your leg to the floor then stretch your other leg the same way
10. Clamshell exercise
This exercise strengthens your hips, thighs, and glutes, stabilizing your pelvic muscles and easing tension in your lower back. When you've mastered the basic pose, try out a few variations.
- Lie on your side with your knees bent and a resistance band around your lower thighs
- Lift your top leg as high as possible and then hold
- Lower to the starting position
- Do 1-3 sets of 8-15 reps
11. Floor hip flexors
This activity helps stretch and strengthen your hip flexors, thighs, and glutes.
- Lie on your back and slowly pull one of your legs into your chest
- Press the back of your knee into the floor, feeling the stretch in your hip
- Pause and hold for 30 seconds
- Repeat on each side 2-3 times
12. Donkey kicks
This activity helps tone and strengthen your hips and glutes.
- From a tabletop position, lift one of your knees, keeping it bent as you kick up
- Make sure to bring the lower part of your foot toward the ceiling
- Return to the starting position
- Do 2-3 sets of 12-20 reps on each side
13. Hip marching
This workout helps develop flexibility and strength in your hips and thighs.
- Sit at the front edge of a seat
- Lift one of your legs as high as possible but keep your knee bent
- With slow and controlled movements, lower your leg
- Repeat with the other leg
- Do 2-3 sets of 5-12 reps
14. Step climbing
Step climbing is one of the most basic but effective ways to tighten and tone your glutes and hips while getting a cardio workout at the same time.
- Jog or run up to the top of the steps and then walk back down
- Try to repeat for up to 5 minutes
- You can also use a StairMaster or step machine at the gym
15. High-intensity-interval-training (HIIT)
HIIT is a type of cardio exercise where you do a short period of intensive exercise, followed by a brief period of rest.
One example of HIIT is to complete 30 seconds of sprinting on the treadmill followed by 15 seconds of walking. You can also do jump squats or burpees for 45 seconds and then rest for 15 seconds.
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