Your hips are one of the most important joints on your body because you use them so frequently. They must function properly for you to perform daily activities such as bending over, standing up, stepping sideways and walking. Therefore, you should exercise regularly to strengthen the bones, muscles and connective tissues that make up your hip joints. You can do numerous exercises to achieve this goal.
Squats exercise your hips through flexion and extension ranges of motion. According to strength and conditioning specialists Thomas Baechle and Roger Earle, to perform squats, first stand upright with your feet at least shoulder-width apart and hold a barbell across your upper back and shoulders. Then flex your knees and hips to lower your body like you are sitting on a chair. When your thighs are parallel to the ground, powerfully extend your hips and knees to stand back up. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions. You can also perform squats while holding dumbbells at your sides or in front of your shoulders.
Step-ups strengthen your hips through deeper flexion and extension ranges of motion than squats. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), to execute step-ups, first stand in front of a sturdy bench or chair and hold dumbbells at your sides. Next, step up with your left foot and push off to lift your right foot off the ground. Then flex your right leg and kick your knee up to waist height before reversing to step back down with your right foot followed by your left. Finally, repeat the exercise by stepping up with your right foot. Continue to alternate in this manner for however many repetitions you want to perform. You can also do step-ups while holding a barbell across your upper back instead of dumbbells.
Side lunges strengthen your gluteus maximus, medius and minimus muscles, all of which act on your hip joints, according to the ACE. To perform side lunges, from a standing position, step about 3 feet to either side, plant your foot, and squat until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Then push off your foot to stand up and step back to the starting position. Repeat for as many repetitions as you want and then repeat with your opposite foot.
As its name suggests, hip abduction strengthens the muscles that abduct your leg away from the midline of your body. You can perform the exercise using only your body weight for resistance or you can wear ankle weights for added resistance if desired. To do the exercise, lie on either side with your legs stacked and lift your top leg straight upward until you feel tension or your leg begins to turn, then lower it back down slowly and repeat. Perform as many repetitions as you desire and then switch to your opposite side.
The hip adduction exercise works the muscles that adduct your leg toward the center of your body. To perform the exercise, start in the same position as hip abduction, but move your lower leg slightly in front of your body. Then repeatedly raise your lower leg straight upward and let it back down. Like hip abduction, you can wear ankle weights for added resistance if desired.