Strong, Functional Hips: A Must for an Active Lifestyle

Strong, functional hips are beneficial both in and out of the gym. Powerful hips are the driving force that connects a strong upper and lower body. The hip is considered the most powerful joint in the body because of all the musculature needed to function properly. If the hips are not functional they will hinder the body and end up producing less force in compound movements. Think about how less efficient you will be if your hips are weak or dysfunctional. Everything from performing squats and deadlifts to holding a yoga pose will be negatively affected. According to Michael Reiman, PT and his colleagues, as stated in the International Journal Sports Physical Therapy, “Restricted (hip) mobility can consequently have deleterious effects not only at the involved joint but throughout the entire kinetic chain”.

What Movements do the Hips Perform?

The hip joint is your basic ball-in-socket joint that allows movement in three degrees of freedom. Strong, functional hips, are developed over time using these seven movements:

  • Flexion
  • Extension
  • Abduction
  • Adduction
  • Circumduction (Rotation)
  • Internal Rotation
  • External Rotation

A Hip Dynamic Warm-up is Extremely Beneficial

One of the big injury culprits in todays society is inactivity, which includes the big one, sitting too much. Daniel Lieberman, PhD, a Harvard University evolutionary biologist, reports in his new book, Exercised, that the average American adult is inactive 55-75 percent of the day. One way to offset this inactivity is with regular, focused movement, that incorporates the seven areas of movement mentioned above. Therefore, adding 15-minutes of dynamic warm-up prior to exercise is a great start. This will help develop strong, functional hips. Here is a quick dynamic warm-up you can try before your next Jefit strength workout.

  1. High Knee Marching or Running (to target hip flexion).
  2. Standing Hip Extension (hip extension).
  3. Standing Side Leg Swings (hip abduction/adduction). Runners love this one.
  4. Supine or Standing Knee Circles (rotation).
  5. Moving Side Step-Over (internal/external rotation).

Perform (#1 & 5 above) for 10-15 yards each. The remaining ones can be done for repetition or time. Change up the direction as you progress, meaning perform forward/backward etc. As with the first one, High Knee Marching, one day move forward and the next, try to perform it as you walk backward.

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Major Muscle Groups Used to Move the Hip

  • Flexion: Iliopsoas group (iliacus and psoas major).
  • Extension: Gluteus maximus.
  • Abduction: Gluteus medius and minimus.
  • Adduction: Adductor brevis, longus, and magnus along with pectineus and gracilis.
  • Rotation: Lateral rotator group of muscles including the biceps femoris, sartorius, and gluteus medius and minimus.
  • External Rotation: Gemellus superior and inferior, obturator internus and externus, quadratus femoris and finally, the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus.
  • Internal Rotation: Tensor fasciae latae (outer hip) parts of the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus (upper buttocks) the adductor longus, brevis, and magnus (inner thigh) and finally, the pectineus (upper frontal thigh).

Effective Hip Exercises

This list of hip exercises are in no specific order. The first ten are performed as bodyweight exercises. You can progress to carrying a load. The second ten are some of the better strength training exercises. What are your favorite exercises on this list? What exercises do you see great results with that did not make our list? Again, these are not the BEST, just a few that came to mind first.

  1. Multi-directional Lunges (forward, reverse, side)
  2. Step-ups
  3. SLRD (single-leg Romanian Deadlift)
  4. Plyo Box Jumps (single & double le)
  5. Explosive jumps (broad jump, star jumps etc.)
  6. Child Pose (yoga)
  7. Pidgeon Pose (yoga)
  8. Bodyweight Squat (regular & deep)
  9. Medicine Ball Squat to Explosive Push
  10. Side-Lying Hip Abduction
  11. Traditional Squat – Front/Back – (barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell)
  12. Kettlebell Hip Thrust
  13. Wide-Stance Squat (progress to below parallel)
  14. Sumo Squat
  15. Goblet Squat
  16. Barbell Hip Thrust
  17. Bulgarian Split Squat
  18. Deadlift
  19. Kettlebell Swing
  20. Walking Lunges (barbell/dumbbell/kettlebell)

*Bonus: Monster Walks (using a band) and Band Side Step

Get Strong with Jefit

The award-winning Jefit app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

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