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Muscles Used in Hip Extension

author image Aubrey Bailey
Aubrey Bailey has been writing health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a certified hand therapist.
Muscles Used in Hip Extension
Muscles Used in Hip Extension Photo Credit: microgen/iStock/GettyImages

Hip extension is the backward movement of your thigh and you do it multiple times every day. Muscles that perform hip extension are active when you stand up from a chair, walk, run, jump, roll over and climb stairs. The main muscles used in hip extension are your gluteus maximus and hamstrings.

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These muscles also play an important role in maintaining proper posture. Tightness or weakness can develop in them, particularly if you spend a lot of time sitting during the day.

Read More: Men's Hip Exercises

Gluteus Maximus

The gluteus maximus is the main muscle that performs hip extension. It's the largest muscle in your lower body and makes up the rounded shape of your buttocks. It connects your tailbone to your thigh bone, and one of its main functions is to help you stand upright. When your heel hits the ground as you walk, the gluteus maximus also helps stop your body from continuing forward by stopping the hip from flexing.


Three muscles called the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris make up your hamstrings. These muscles run along the back of your thighs and are easily injured or strained. They run from your pelvis to the back of your knees and together work to stabilize the hip joint. The hamstrings are the primary muscles that perform hip extension during normal walking.

In addition to hip extension, the hamstrings also bend your knees. These muscles propel your body forward and increase your walking speed.

Read More: Hip Tendinitis and Running

Training for Hip Extension

Moves such as squats, deadlifts, step-ups, leg curls and donkey kicks train the muscles used in leg extension. Include these exercises in your lower body workouts to become stronger at movements that use hip extension -- such as running or jumping. Most athletes benefit from training these muscles.

Even if you aren't aiming to run a marathon or hit the track for a long jump, you'd be wise to work your glutes and hamstrings. Tightness, weakness and inactivity of these muscles can cause pain in your lower back as it compensates for poor glute and hamstring function. Working the muscles at least two times a week with just one set of eight to 12 reps with two or three of the aforementioned exercises does a lot to restore balance and prevent injury.

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