While trying to spot-reduce the hips--or attempting to lose weight specifically in the this area--does not work, certain exercises do tone, strengthen and tighten the hip muscles. Muscle volume requires less space than fat, so gaining muscle while losing fat contributes to slimmer hips and a smaller size. Combining hip exercises with a regular strength-training program, cardio and a healthy diet will help reduce hip size.
Walking lunges challenge the hips, including the glutes, hamstrings and abductor muscles, which are located on the outside of your hips. Stand up straight, adjust your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees slightly. Hanging your arms by your sides, tighten your abdominal muscles and step your right foot forward 24 inches. Stack your right knee over its corresponding ankle and lift onto the ball of your left foot. Lower your left knee toward the ground, bending both knees as your slowly drop to the floor. Stopping before your left knee makes contact with the floor, push up through your right heel and return to standing. Step your left foot forward, 24 inches in front of your right foot, and do a lunge on that side. Continue alternating until you complete your desired amount of repetitions.
Pulsing Plie Squats
Pulsing plie squats challenge the glutes and the inner thighs. This exercise tones and tightens hip muscles. Stand your feet two inches wider than shoulder-width and turn your toes out 45 degrees. Tighten your abdominal muscles, stand up straight and stick your butt out behind you. Check that your knees and ankles align with one another. Maintaining this alignment throughout the exercise prevents knee strain or injury during the squat. Lower your glutes toward the ground, stopping when the back of your legs are parallel to the ground.
In the lowered position, push up through your heels and lift your hips two inches. Lower and complete two more pulses. Finally, push up through your heels, return to standing and repeat until you complete your desired amount of repetitions.
Bridge Leg Raise
The bridge leg raise provides dual benefits: it strengthens and tones the hips while building abdominal and lower back strength. Lie supine on a mat, bend your knees and position your feet six inches in front of your glutes, directly next to each other with no space in between your legs. Pushing up through your heels, lift your hips off the ground, stopping when they form a straight line with your knees and shoulders. Lift your right foot off of the ground and extend your leg. Keeping your knees aligned the entire time challenges your hip and lower back muscles. Hold for 30 seconds, lower your right leg to the ground and do the same with your opposite leg.
- ACE Exercise Library: Forward Lunge
- ACE Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise; 2003