Your hips do a lot of work—here's how to keep them strong.

By Amy Schlinger
February 24, 2020

Turns out, Shakira's not the only one who believes hips don't lie. Those ball-and-socket joints can reveal a lot about a person, and equally important is how well they're taken care of, through hip strengthening and stretching.

When a person has tight hips, it generally means that they've been sitting a lot, like at a desk job, working on a computer all day, says Chelsey Wilkens, NASM-CPT, a trainer at Soho Strength Lab in New York City. “By doing active stretches before or after sitting for extended periods of time, you'll help relax the area, feel less tight, and allow yourself to sit comfortably for longer,” says Wilkens. "This will also help protect from injuries."

Hip strength and mobility can also help improve movement patterns and posture. “If one joint isn’t working as it should—say, the hips are tight and immobile—this can cause stress for the joint above or below it," says Wilkens. When the hip tightens, it can stress the low back or the knee joint, which can then alter posture and gait (aka, how you walk) and also lead to injuries.

RELATED: 3 Lower Back Stretches You Can Do at Your Desk

Another reason your hips are so important? They absorb most of the movement of your body, says Wilkens. “They take on standing stress, sitting stress, and stabilizing stress,” she explains. “So adding strength to the part of your body that gives you the greatest support will improve your ability to move throughout daily tasks without hesitation.”

When you're finally ready to get your hips strong and mobile, use this routine created by Wilkens to warm up and then strengthen the key hip joints. Add this workout into your routine one to two times per week to get the best results.

RELATED: 7 Glute Exercises that Aren't Squats

Your 6-Move Hip Mobility Warm-Up

1. World’s Greatest Stretch

Meredith

1. Start in a plank position, hands on the floor stacked directly under shoulders, core engaged, body in straight line from head to heels.

2. Step right foot forward and outside of right hand.

3. Lift right hand, place behind head, and lower right elbow toward the floor.

4. Then reach elbow toward the ceiling, as you rotate torso to the right. Hold for 3 seconds.

5. Place hand back down and step right leg back to plank. Then, repeat on the left side. Continue alternating for 5 reps on each side.

2. Banded Ankle Kick-Slides

Meredith

1. Place a looped band around ankles and stand with feet hip-width apart. Sit back slightly into hips. Standing on left leg, drive right leg out to the side, straightening knee.

2. Then step back to hip-width. Repeat for 10 reps.

3. Then, drive right leg diagonally behind you, straightening knee. Then step back to hip-width.

4. Repeat for 10 reps. Then switch sides. Do 10 reps each on left side.

3. Banded Glute Bridge

Meredith

1. Place a looped band around thighs, above knees. Lie on back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, about 6 inches in front of glutes and hip-distance apart. Without letting knees fall inward, engage core and glutes as you push through heels to raise hips toward ceiling.

2. Slowly lower back down. Repeat for 15 reps.

RELATED: 5 Resistance Band Exercises for a Strong Butt

4. Dynamic Banded Glute Bridge

Meredith

1. Place a looped band around thighs, above knees. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, about 6 inches in front of glutes and hip-distance apart. Without letting knees fall inward, engage core and glutes as you push through heels to raise hips toward ceiling.

2. Slowly walk feet about 3 small steps forward, then walk them back under knees. Keep hips lifted the entire time. Repeat for 5 reps.

5. Quadruped Pigeon

Meredith

1. Begin in an all-fours position, hands stacked under shoulders, knees directly under hips, toes tucked. Bring right ankle in front of left knee, shin parallel to hips and shoulders. Push hips back, fold forward at the waist, and bring left forearm to floor.

2. Then, reach right arm straight out and toward left side. Hold for 5 breaths.

3. Then walk hands back up under shoulders. Repeat for 3 reps, then switch sides.

6. Half-Frog Straddle Stretch

Meredith

1. Begin kneeling on the floor. Extend right leg straight out to the side, foot planted. Bring left foot slightly outward so knee bends 90 degrees. Bend forward at the waist and place forearms on the floor in front of you, back slightly arched.

2. Gently rock forward and backward for 5 breaths, then switch legs.

RELATED: 15 Hip Stretches Everybody Will Benefit From

14 Hip-Strengthening Exercises

1. Banded Lateral Squat Walks

Meredith

1. Place a looped band around ankles and stand with feet hip-width apart. Push hips back to lower into a shallow squat position.

2. Step right leg out slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, then step left leg in so feet are hip-width apart. Continue for 10 reps. Don’t let knees fall inward.

3. Repeat, moving laterally to the left for 10 steps.

2. Banded Quadruped Donkey Kick

Meredith

1. Place a looped band around thighs, above knees. Come to the floor on all fours, hands stacked directly under shoulders, knees directly under hips, toes tucked. Keeping right knee bent 90 degrees, foot flexed, back flat, and weight evenly distributed on both sides of body, lift right leg and kick heel toward ceiling.

2. Slowly lower leg back down. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch legs.

3. Banded Quadruped Fire Hydrant

Meredith

1. Place a looped band around thighs, above knees. Come to the floor on all fours, hands stacked directly under shoulders, knees directly under hips, toes tucked. Keeping right knee bent at 90 degrees, foot flexed, back flat, and weight evenly distributed on both sides of body, lift right knee out to the side and up to hip level.

2. Slowly lower back down. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch legs.

RELATED: How to Use a Foam Roller to Roll Out Your Glutes

4. Banded Prone Hamstring Curl

1. Place a looped band around right ankle and arch of left foot. Lie flat on your stomach, hands stacked under chin, legs extended behind you, toes tucked. Keeping left foot steady, bend right knee to curl right foot up toward glutes.

2. Slowly lower back down. Repeat for 10 reps, then reposition band and repeat on other leg.

5. Weighted Single-Leg Glute Bridge

Meredith

1. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, about 6 inches in front of glutes, and hip-distance apart. Keeping thighs parallel, extend right leg straight up toward ceiling and place dumbbell on left hip. This is your starting position. Without letting knees fall inward, brace core and glutes as you push through left heel to raise hips toward the ceiling.

2. Slowly lower back down to starting position. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.

6. Weighted Front Rack Squat

Meredith

1. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward, one dumbbell in each hand, raised up to shoulder level with dumbbells parallel to shoulders, palms facing you. Keeping back straight, upper body tall, push knees outward as you bend knees and send hips down and back to lower into a squat.

2. Push through feet to stand back up. Repeat for 10 reps.

RELATED: How to Perform the Perfect Squat

7. Weighted Sumo Squat

Meredith

1. Stand with feet reasonably wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed outward, one dumbbell in each hand, arms extended with weight between legs, palms facing inward. Keeping back straight, upper body tall, push knees outward as you bend knees and send hips down and back to lower into a sumo squat.

2. Push through heels to stand back up. Repeat for 10 reps.

8. Weighted Transverse Lunge

Meredith

1. Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended down by sides. Position left toes behind right ankle, lifting left heel. This is your starting position. Step left leg out toward a four o’clock position and lower down, both knees bending. Dumbbells should frame front right foot.

2. Push through both feet to stand back up, bringing left foot forward and back to starting position. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch legs.

9. Weighted Supported Single-Leg Deadlift

Meredith

1. Start with feet hip-width apart, dumbbell in left hand, right hand on wall, bar, chair or any anchor for balance. Keeping back flat, hinge at the hips to lower chest forward and dumbbell toward ground as you simultaneously raise left leg behind you. Keep dumbbell close to body, like it’s replacing left foot.

2. Press through right foot to rise back up to standing. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.

RELATED: How to Do a Deadlift with Dumbbells

10. Front Lunge

Meredith

1. Start standing with feet staggered wider than shoulder-width, right foot in front and left foot behind, with heel lifted off the floor. Bend front right knee past 90 degrees, back left knee bending only slightly.

2. Push through front right foot to straighten right leg and come back up to standing in a staggered stance. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.

11. Squat to Reverse Lunge

Meredith

1. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward. Keeping back straight, upper body tall, push knees outward as you bend knees and send hips down and back to lower into a squat.

2. Push through feet to stand back up.

3. Then, step right leg back into reverse lunge position, both knees bending 90 degrees.

3. Step back up to stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width.

4. Repeat, stepping left leg back to reverse lunge after your squat. Repeat for 20 reps, 10 on each leg with a squat between each.

12. Lateral Lunge to Balance

1. Stand with feet hip-width apart. Without bending left leg, step right leg out to the side and bend knee to lower into side lunge, hips going straight back, toes and knee pointing forward.

2. Push through right foot to stand back up and pull right knee towards chest, balancing only on left foot. Repeat for 10 reps before you place right foot back down to switch sides and repeat for 10 reps on left side.

RELATED: 5 Power Lunges for Killer Glutes and Legs

13. Single-Leg Deadlift to Airplane

Meredith

1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart, arms extended down by sides. Shift weight to right foot. Keeping back flat, hinge at hips to lower chest forward, as you simultaneously raise left leg behind you, until you’re about parallel to the floor.

2. Keeping arms extended, slowly lift right hand toward the ceiling, in line with shoulder.

3. Lower right arm back down in front of you.

4. Then, press through right foot to stand back up, still balancing on right foot. Repeat for 6 reps, then switch sides.

14. Jump Squat Out-In-Twist

Meredith

1. Start in a squat, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, upper body tall and core engaged.

2. Keeping upper body tall, jump feet almost together.

3. Then, jump to twist lower body to the right, shoulders still facing forward. And quickly jump again to re-twist hips to face the front.

4. Jump feet back out to slightly wider than hip-width, landing softly back into a squat position.

5. Repeat, this time twisting to the left. Continue alternating twists, with a squat jump in between, for 10 reps.

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