Hip-strengthening and Mobility Exercises You Can Do at Home

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

Your hips—those ball-and-socket joints—do a lot of work all day. So taking care of them through hip strengthening and stretching can improve your range of motion and posture and reduce pain and discomfort to help keep your hips functioning at their best.

The Importance of Hips

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, according to 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, you'll help relax the area, feel less tight, and allow yourself to sit comfortably for longer," Wilkens said. "This will also help protect you 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," Wilkens explained. When the hip tightens, it can stress the low back or the knee joint, which can then alter posture and gait (how you walk) and also lead to injuries.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, your hip is a "multi-axial, ball-and-socket joint upon which the upper body is balanced during stance and gait. The balance and stability provided by the hip joint allow motion while supporting forces encountered during daily activities."

Another reason your hips are so important? They absorb most of the movement of your body, said Wilkens. "They take on standing stress, sitting stress, and stabilizing stress," Wilkens explained. "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."

According to a small 2017 study published in the Journal of Osteoporosis, study participants with hip osteoarthritis (deterioration of the joint and bone) experienced a significant decrease in hip pain after a 12-week exercise program.

When you're ready to get your hips strong and mobile, use this routine created by Wilkens to warm up and then strengthen key areas of the hips. Add this workout to your routine twice a week to get the best results.

6 Warm-up Exercises for Mobility

It's always good to start with stretching exercises before moving on to other, more intense, strengthening exercises. Stretching will get your blood flowing and increase your flexibility as it warms up your muscles. This will help you avoid injury.

World's Greatest Stretch

Meredith
  1. Start in a plank position, hands on the floor stacked directly under shoulders, core engaged, body in a straight line from head to heels.
  2. Step your right foot forward and outside of your right hand.
  3. Lift your right hand, place it behind the head, and lower your right elbow toward the floor.
  4. Then, reach your elbow toward the ceiling, as you rotate your torso to the right. Hold for 3 seconds.
  5. Place your hand back down and move your right leg back to the plank position.

Repeat the movements on the left side. Continue alternating for 5 reps on each side.

Banded Ankle Side and Back Kick-slides

Meredith
  1. Place a looped band—exercise band—around your ankles and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Sit back slightly into hips.
  2. Standing on the left leg, drive the right leg out to the side as you straighten the knee.
  3. Step back to hip-width and repeat the movement for 10 repetitions.
  4. Next, drive your right leg diagonally behind you, straightening your knee. Then step back to hip-width. Repeat the backward movement for 10 repetitions.

Switch sides and do each stretching movement for 10 reps on the left side.

Banded Glute Bridge

Meredith
  1. Place a resistance band around the thighs, above the knees.
  2. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor—about 6 inches in front of your glutes—with the feet at hip distance apart.
  3. Without letting your knees fall inward, engage your core and glutes as you push through your heels to raise your hips toward the ceiling.
  4. Slowly lower back down.

Repeat this slow and steady stretch for 15 reps.

Dynamic Banded Glute Bridge

Meredith
  1. Place a looped band around your thighs—just above the knees.
  2. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, about 6 inches in front of your glutes and hip distance apart.
  3. Without letting your knees fall inward, engage your core and glutes as you push through your heels to raise your hips toward the ceiling.
  4. Slowly walk your feet about 3 small steps forward—away from your bottom—then walk them back under your knees. Keep your hips lifted the entire time.

Repeat this movement for 5 repetitions.

Quadruped Pigeon

Meredith
  1. Begin on your hands and knees in an all-fours position with your hands stacked under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips with your toes tucked.
  2. Move your right ankle in front of the left knee—your shin will be parallel to your hips and shoulders.
  3. Push your hips back as you fold forward at the waist
  4. Bend your left elbow as you reach your right forearm forward on the floor.
  5. Hold for 5 breaths and then walk your hands back under your shoulders and uncross your ankle from in front of your knee as you return to the all-fours position.

Repeat the stretch for 3 reps and then switch sides crossing your other ankle in front of your knee.

Half-Frog Straddle Stretch

Meredith
  1. Begin on your hands and knees in an all-fours position with your hands stacked under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips with your toes tucked.
  2. Lower your arms to your elbows and place your hands together—forming a prayer-like position—and keep your back slightly arched.
  3. Extend your right leg straight out to the side and plant your foot. You should feel the stretch in your inner thigh.
  4. Move the left foot slightly outward, so the knee bends by 90 degrees—increasing the stretch.
  5. Gently rock forward and backward for five breaths.

Move back into the all-fours position and switch legs to repeat the stretch on the opposite side.

If you're doing any of the six exercises above to increase flexibility (not just to warm up) then you'll want to hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat the stretch for 3 reps.

14 Hip-strengthening Exercises

Hip strengthening exercises will build the muscles in your hips, thighs, and buttocks. These are all large muscle groups and burn a lot of calorie energy.

Hip strength exercises help to maintain or improve posture and movement while reducing hip and lower back discomfort from long hours of sitting or standing. Before starting a new exercise routine, talk with a healthcare provider to be sure it's safe for you.

Banded Lateral Squat Walks

Meredith
  1. Place a looped band around your ankles and stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Push hips back and lower into a shallow squat position.
  3. Step your right leg out slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and step your left leg in so that your feet are again at hip-width apart.
  4. Continue moving laterally for 10 steps but don't let your knees fall inward as you do the movement.
  5. For the opposite side, move your left let out slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and step your right leg in so that your feet are again at hip-width apart.
  6. Continue moving laterally for 10 steps but don't let your knees fall inward as you do the movement.

Banded Quadruped Donkey Kick

Meredith
  1. Place a looped band around your thighs, above the knees.
  2. Come to the floor in an all-fours position—keep your hands stacked directly under shoulders, knees directly under hips, and toes tucked.
  3. Keep your right knee bent 90 degrees and your foot flexed as you perform a donkey kick upward toward the ceiling. Hold your back flat, and keep your weight evenly distributed on both sides of your body.
  4. Slowly lower your leg in a controlled movement for greater impact.

Repeat the exercise for 10 reps and then switch legs.

Banded Quadruped Fire Hydrant

Meredith
  1. Place a looped band around the thighs, above the knees.
  2. Come to the floor in an all-fours position with your hands stacked directly under shoulders, knees directly under hips, and toes tucked.
  3. Keep your right knee bent at 90 degrees and your foot flexed—back flat, and weight evenly distributed on both sides of the body—as you lift your right knee out to the side and up to hip level—in a male dog peeing type of motion.
  4. Slowly lower the knee back down.

Repeat for 10 repetitions and then switch legs.

Banded Prone Hamstring Curl

  1. Place a looped band around your right ankle and the arch of your left foot.
  2. Lie flat on your stomach, hands stacked under your chin, legs extended behind you, toes tucked.
  3. Keep your left foot steady, and bend your right knee to curl your right foot up toward your glutes.
  4. Slowly lower the leg back down.

Repeat the movement for 10 reps, then reposition the band and repeat on the other leg.

Weighted Single-leg Glute Bridge

Meredith
  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor about 6 inches in front of your glutes, and hip distance apart.
  2. Keep your thighs parallel as you extend your right leg straight up toward the ceiling.
  3. You can place a dumbbell on your left hip to kick this movement up.
  4. Without letting your knees fall inward, brace your core and glutes as you push through your left heel to raise your hips toward the ceiling.
  5. Slowly lower back down to the starting position.

Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.

Weighted Front Rack Squat

Meredith
  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward
  2. Hold one dumbbell in each hand with them raised up to shoulder level with the dumbbells in front of your chest and parallel to your shoulders—your palms should face you.
  3. Do a squat movement, keeping your back straight, and upper body tall. To squat, push your knees outward as you bend them and send your hips down and back to lower into a squat.
  4. Push through your feet to stand back up. Repeat for 10 repetitions.

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 weights between legs, palms facing inward.
  2. Keeping your back straight, and upper body tall, push knees outward as you bend knees and send hips down and back to lower into a sumo squat.
  3. Push through heels to stand back up.

Repeat for 10 reps.

Weighted Transverse Lunge

Meredith
  1. Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended down by your sides. Position the left toes behind the right ankle, lifting the left heel. This is your starting position.
  2. Step left leg out toward a four o'clock position and lower down, both knees bending. Dumbbells should frame the front right foot.
  3. Push through both feet to stand back up, bringing the left foot forward and back to starting position.

Repeat for 10 reps, then switch legs.

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.
  2. Keeping back flat, hinge at the hips to lower chest forward and dumbbell toward the ground as you simultaneously raise your left leg behind you. Keep the dumbbell close to your body, like it's replacing your left foot.
  3. Press through the right foot to rise back up to standing.

Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.

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.
  2. Bend front right knee slightly past 90 degrees (with the knee not going past the toes) and back left knee bending only slightly.
  3. Push through the front right foot to straighten the right leg and come back up to standing in a staggered stance.

Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.

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 the right leg back into a reverse lunge position, both knees bending 90 degrees.
  4. Step back up to stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width.
  5. Repeat, stepping your left leg back to reverse lunge after your squat.

Repeat for 20 reps, 10 on each leg with a squat between each.

Lateral Lunge to Balance

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Without bending the left leg, step the right leg out to the side and bend the knee to lower into a side lunge, hips going straight back, toes and knee pointing forward.
  3. Push through the right foot to stand back up and pull the right knee towards the chest, balancing only on the left foot.

Repeat for 10 reps before you place your right foot back down to switch sides and repeat for 10 reps on the left side.

Single-leg Deadlift to Airplane

Meredith
  1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart, arms extended down by sides. Shift weight to the right foot. Keeping back flat, hinge at hips to lower chest forward, as you simultaneously raise your left leg behind you, until you're about parallel to the floor.
  2. Keeping arms extended, slowly lift your right hand toward the ceiling, in line with your shoulder.
  3. Lower your right arm back down in front of you.
  4. Then, press through the right foot to stand back up, still balancing on the right foot. Repeat for 6 reps, then switch sides.

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 the 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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