Not our-level excited when it comes to hip love? Perhaps these additional incentives will change your mind. You’ll be doing hip exercises in no time…
More efficient workouts
Stable, mobile hips allow you to execute any exercise better in its full range of motion – and with force, which maxes out your results. A prime example: squats. Tight hip flexors (sitting with knees butterflied out will hurt so good) may cause your pelvis to run out of space as it lowers, preventing a deep squat – the most effective type.
And research shows that because the hip flexors and glutes are opposing muscle groups (as in, one affects the other), tight flexors can limit glute activation in moves like kettlebell swings. That means less kilojoule burning and less muscle sculpting. Not cool.
Reduced back pain
If you have chronic back pain, chances are you’re not engaging your glutes regularly enough, which goes back to the sitting-induced shortening of the hip flexors. When your hips are tight, instead of shifting your weight into your posterior chain every time you bend down or lean over, your pelvis throws the burden to the muscles in your back, inviting pain that worsens as the pattern continues. “Long and strong hip flexors permit your glutes, not your back, to hold you upright when you’re, say, washing dishes,” says physiotherapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist Mike Reinold. Just as they should.
Fewer knee troubles
Your hips help control leg alignment down to your ankles, so when you lack mobility or stability in one of their planes of motion, the tiniest gait shift can occur, says certified strength and conditioning specialist and exercise physiologist Dean Somerset. As a result, your body may compensate by placing more stress on other joints, most often your knees, causing pain (known as runner’s knee). Prioritising your hips might be the quickest way to a healthy return: one study found that six weeks of hip-strengthening protocols cured pain quicker than six weeks of knee-specific rehab.
And by default, flatter abs. “Your hips are essentially the foundation that your torso is built on, so theoretically, you should be able to better activate your core when your hips are stable and not tight,” says Reinold. That extra core engagement will help you maintain proper posture in every activity, especially running and lifting (two things that become infinitely safer when those middle muscles jump in). You’ll also be more equipped for single-leg and offset (or kneeling) exercises, which studies show deliver an extra blast to your abs.
Squats, lunges and glute bridges for the win
These classic moves are the holy trinity of hot and happy hips. “When performed together, they’re a trifecta that trains the hip muscles to flex as hard as possible (the bridge), contracts the muscles at their full range of motion, stretching them completely (the squat) and develops control of where the hips are going (the lunge)”, says Somerset. Aim for 20 to 50 reps of each daily.