Hip pain is no fun.
It can keep you from enjoying your daily activities and can even contribute to back and knee pain.
There are simple exercises that can help gently strengthen the muscles of the hip flexors and glutes.
We put together a list of simple, yet effective exercises that will help you improve your range of motion and strength in the muscles and joints of your hips.
Yes, squats are good for yet another fitness goal. To strengthen the hips from every angle, try performing narrow, sumo and standard squats. Start with a challenging but doable depth and increase your squat depth as you get stronger.
Make it Harder: As your fitness level improves, try single-leg squat variations for a challenge.
Whether held as a static yoga pose or repeated for reps, glute bridges are a simple but very effective exercise for the hips.
Most people have weak, inactive glutes, and this exercise strengthens these muscles while providing a gentle stretch to the hip flexors.
Make it Harder: Try adding a resistance loop once you feel strong enough. You can also try the single leg version of this exercise.
If your hip rotators are weak, this is a great exercise to improve their range of motion.
Lie on your side with your heels together. Rotate your top knee so that it opens toward the sky, then rotate your top knee toward your mat. Repeat for as many reps as you’d like, then perform a set on your other side.
Make it Harder: This exercise can also be performed with a resistance band for more of a challenge.
This is one of the best stretches for the hip adductors and the glutes. It also stretches the inner and outer thigh muscles and helps to release tension from the low back. And it helps improve balance.
Talk about a multitasking move!
Standing on your right leg, cross your left ankle over your right knee. Your left knee should be pointing out to the side. Sit back into a shallow squat.
Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Lie on your right side. Bend your left/top knee, holding your ankle in your left hand. Stay in this stretch as long as you’d like, then move to your other side.
This is a wonderful stretch for those overly tight psoas muscles in the front of your hips, which can cause a severe anterior pelvic tilt.
This simple exercise effectively stretches the hip flexors while strengthening the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. You can hold a free weight in each hand while performing them for an added challenge.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step your left foot back, bending your knee until it hovers above the floor. Keep your weight in your right heel. Step back to start. Repeat on the opposite side.
You can also hold this lunge position for as long as you’d like for a deep hip flexor and glute stretch.
This is a tough exercise that really strengthens the gluteus medius or muscles on the sides of your hips.
Stand in a shallow squat position with your hips behind you. Take a step to the side with your right leg, repeat for the desired number of reps then change directions.
Make it Harder: Try adding a resistance loop once you feel strong enough.
This exercise it great for strengthening and toning the muscles of the hips from all angles.
Start out by standing in a narrow squat stance. Squat down as low as possible, lifting the right leg out to the side as you stand. Squat and then raise your left leg. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
If you can ignore the name, this exercise will help you improve your hip rotators. It’s a simple move that can be made more challenging with ankle weights or a resistance loop.
On hands and knees, lift your right knee out to the side, squeezing your glutes. Lower back to start then repeat on that same side for reps. Change sides.
Make it Harder: Use resistance loops or ankle weights.
Stand tall with your spine in neutral, with your abs engaged. Keeping a small bend in your standing right knee for balance, lift your left leg behind you, and squeeze your glutes.
Lower until your toes are an inch above the floor and lift again. Repeat for as many reps as you like, then switch sides.
Make it Harder: Bend your standing knee until you’re in a shallow squat, then perform the arabesque movement. You can also add resistance loops to this exercise to make it more challenging.
On all fours, draw your right knee towards your chest, then extend that leg out behind you back towards the ceiling. Bring your knee back towards your chest and repeat the motion. Then switch sides.
Make it Harder: Use a resistance tube or ankle weights to make this move more challenging.
While on all fours, lengthen your right leg until it is completely straight. Then lift your toes off the floor several inches.
Lower your toes back to the start and repeat.
Make it Harder: Keep your toes from lowering all the way back to the start, and/or use ankle weights.
This pose multitasks by opening your hips, and helping you improve your balance.
Stand on one leg. Place the sole of your other foot on your calf or inner thigh. Hold this pose as long as you’d like.
Make it Harder: Close your eyes.
This multitasking move works both your core and hips, and you will feel the burn.
Begin in a side plank on one elbow. Lift your top leg in a leg lift, then lower, holding that side plank the entire time. Repeat, then change sides.
Make it Easier: Do a modified side plank on your bottom elbow and knee.
Standing with your feet just wider than shoulder width apart. Lower your hips until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, then return to standing. Repeat.
Make it Easier: Make your plie shallower.
Make it Harder: Lower past parallel.
These hip exercises will improve your strength, flexibility, and balance. (And they’ll help your legs look lean and toned too!) Try adding three or four of these moves to your next leg day for stronger hips.
While you’re trying to strengthen your hips, you’ll need a mat that is tough enough for all of the reps in your workouts, and stays put, so you can move freely.
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