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Lift weights for shapely, strong hips.
Your hips are ball and socket joints that need to be both mobile and strong. Mobility is developed by stretching regularly and staying physically active, whereas strength is best developed by lifting weights to overload the muscles. Keeping your hips strong can prevent injury and improve function for sports and the physically demanding activities of daily living.
There are several muscles that control your hip; some are very large and others quite small. On the back of your hip, your hamstrings and gluteus maximus are responsible for extending your hip to the rear while on the front, the iliacus and psoas major bend your hips forward. Lifting your leg out to the side, a movement called hip abduction, is controlled by your gluteus minimus and medius, the tensor fascia latae and sartorius muscles. Hip adduction, the action of drawing your leg into the midline of your body, is controlled by your adductor longus, brevis and magnus muscles.
To improve hip strength, work your hip muscles two or three times a week on nonconsecutive days. This allows your muscles time to rest and recover between workouts. Perform two to four sets of 12 to 20 repetitions of each chosen exercise using a weight that is challenging but allows you to complete your workout in good form.
The Right Moves
To ensure your hip muscles are equally well-developed, your workout should include exercises that involve hip extension, hip flexion, hip abduction and hip adduction. Hip extension exercises include good mornings, lunges and squats. Hip flexion exercises include lying and hanging knee raises. Hip abduction exercises include band squats, plie squats and side lying leg lifts. Hip adduction exercises include the hip adduction machine, side lying inner leg raises and medicine ball knee squeezes. One or two exercises per hip function is sufficient.
Don't Jump Right In
If you have been sedentary lately or are currently suffering a medical condition or injury, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. Warm up before your workout by doing a few minutes of light cardio followed by dynamic stretches for your target muscles, especially the hamstrings, adductors, gluteus maximus, psoas major and iliacus.