Hip Strength: Unlocking Optimal Performance

When it comes to strength training we often think of working out our chest, back, core and legs, or as I like to think of them…our glamour muscles!  Can you think of the last time you went to the gym and thought, “I am really going to pump up these hips today!”?

Hip strength can make or break an athlete.

One of the biggest things I have learned as a coach is the importance of our hip strength.   More often than not we are neglecting one of the key parts of our bodies that helps us be successful as endurance athletes.

Why is hip strength so important?

  1. Support.  Hip muscles support our core and pelvis and create a foundation for our arms and legs to move from. Weak foundation = Weak performance.
  2. Injury Prevention. Some of the injuries that are commonly caused by weak hips are:
    1. IT band syndrome
    2. Shin splints
    3. Plantarfasciitis
    4. Bursitis
    5. Patellofemoral Stress Syndrome
    6. Overuse injuries of the ankles, knees and back
  3. Stability
  4. Energy transfer.  Energy can be lost between the upper and lower body if the hips are not able to transfer force.
  5. Core strength.  Your hips and core work very closely together. To maximize your core strength, you need hip strength.

Here are some strengthening exercises that will give you that extra edge!  Many of these exercises can be completed without the need for equipment, however there are some in which I utilize TheraBand for resistance.  TheraBand Loops are thick elastic bands that provide a way to strengthen muscles by using the resistance.

Clam Shell: Lie on your side with your knees at a 90 degree angle.  Keeping feet together, slowly raise your knee toward the ceiling keeping your gluteal muscles tight. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times per side.

Double Leg Bridge: Lie on your back with both knees bent at 90 degrees on the floor.  Slowly raise your hips to the ceiling and hold for 5 seconds repeating 8-10 times.

Single Leg Bridge: Lie on your back with one knee bent 90 degrees to the floor.  Pull the other knee toward your chest. Push resting foot into the ground lifting your hips up. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times on each side.

Hip Adduction:  Lie on your side and fold your top leg over the bottom leg.  Slowly raise lower leg toward the ceiling.  Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times per side.

Hip Abduction: Lie on your side keeping your body posture straight.  Slowly raise upper leg toward the ceiling avoiding rotating your hips.  Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times per side.

Chair Squat:  Stand in front of a chair with your feet shoulder width apart.  Slowly squat down until you feel the chair.  Push through your heels and return to the starting position.  Complete 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

Lateral Slides: Place TheraBand around both ankles.  With knees and hips slightly bent, take a 6-8 inch step to the side, followed by the other foot.  Repeat 10 times on each side and repeat 3 times.

Monster Walk: Place TheraBand around both ankles.  With knees and hips slightly bent, take a 2-3 foot diagonal step for 20 steps.  Repeat 3 times.

Pseudo Running Exercise: Place TheraBand around ankle.  Flex hip up and then extend forward.  Lower leg down slowly 8-10 times each side.  Repeat 3 times.

Stable Object Exercises:  Attach TheraBand to a Stable object and perform 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

Hip Abduction:

Hip Adduction:

Hip Flexion:

Hip Extension:

There you have it!  Incorporate these hip exercises into your training routine and you will be on your way to your optimal performance.

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