Our hips are responsible for more than you may realizeincluding how we bend and lift our kneeswhich is why it surprises me that they never really make it onto many of our training to-do lists. By ignoring the hips, you are not only messing with your body's stability and flexibility but also missing out on some key sculpting benefits. That stubborn lower-belly pouch and thigh jiggle? Strong hip muscles will help keep all of that in check. Weak ones, on the other hand, contribute to body imbalance, which can lead to injuries. So step up your hip toning for a better overall shape this summer.
How does this series build hip strength? The legs act as a point of resistance, while the hips, which your body uses as an anchor, work to stabilize and control the momentum of each movement. And every time you expand and contract or flex and extend, you'll feel it throughout the hips. Aim to do this sequence six days a week, adding in 30 to 60 minutes of cardio.
Do all moves on the right side first, then repeat on the left.
Stand with feet together and arms bent, holding a 3-pound dumbbell in each hand just below chin. Sweep right leg out to the side (A). Bring leg back in without placing foot down, then bend right knee, bringing it diagonally up as you punch left arm out (B). Return to start (try not to let foot touch the floor). Do 30 reps.
Start on hands and knees. Place right hand on hip and raise right leg (keeping knee bent) so that inner thigh is parallel to the floor. Push right foot back (A), then swing leg forward and straighten knee (B). Return to "A" and repeat 30 times.
Pro tip: Really push through the hips as leg swings back and forth.
Start by kneeling; shift weight onto right knee and place right hand on the floor. With left arm bent and fist tucked at chest level, lift left leg (knee is bent) so that inner thigh is parallel to the floor (A). Return left knee and hand to the floor as you rock body to the left, kicking right leg out to the side and extending right arm to the ceiling (B). Return to start; do 30 reps.
Pro tip: Move through the exercise in one fluid motion.
Start by kneeling; shift weight onto left knee. Place left hand on the floor and right hand on left hip. Right knee should be hovering over the floor (A). Lift right leg so that inner thigh is parallel to the floor, then kick leg straight out (B). Return to "A" and repeat 30 times.