The hips and thighs are filled with powerful muscles that play an influential role in our daily life. Activities like walking, running, stair climbing and squatting would not be possible without the muscles in these areas. As a result, keeping them strong is extremely important. Fortunately, there are many excellent strengthening exercises for the hips and thighs that can be done from the comfort of your own home.
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1. Elevated Split Squat
Try this challenging variation of a lunge to activate the quadriceps muscles in your thigh.
HOW TO DO IT: Assume a staggered stance with your hind foot placed on the seat of a chair. Keeping your torso upright, slowly bend your knees until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then rise up again. Make sure your front knee does not move past the end of your foot.
2. Side Plank
Side planks are an effective exercise for strengthening the hip abductor muscles on the outside of your leg that help to stabilize your pelvis.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your left side with one leg stacked on top of the other. With your left forearm on the ground under your shoulder, lift your bottom hip in the air until your spine is neutral. Maintain this position for 5 to 10 seconds and then lower back down again. After a set of 10 repetitions, roll over and repeat the exercise on the right side.
3. Resisted Side Step
Using a band to provide resistance, side stepping targets both the quads and the gluteus medius muscle on the outside of your hip.
HOW TO DO IT: Place a resistance band around your lower legs. Assume a mini squat position without allowing your knees to move past the end of your toes. Keeping this position, take a wide step to the right and then bring your left leg back in again. Make sure to avoid leaning your body as you do this. Complete a set of 10 repetitions and then reverse and step to your left side.
4. Hip Thrust
Hip thrusts are an easy way to get a great burn in your butt muscles without needing extra gym equipment.
HOW TO DO IT: With both feet on the floor, lean back onto a bed so that the edge is just under your shoulder blades. Contract your buttocks as you lift your waist in the air until your spine is straight. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and then lower back towards the ground. To make this more challenging, extend one leg out in front of you and complete the lift with the other one.
5. Lateral Step Down
Lateral step downs challenge your quadriceps while also requiring your hip muscles to stabilize your pelvis.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand sideways with your right foot on the bottom step and your left one hanging in the air. Slowly bend your right knee as you lower towards the ground. When your left heel makes light contact with the floor, straighten your right knee and rise up again. Do not allow your knee to buckle inwards as you complete this exercise.
6. Fire Hydrant
This efficient exercise targets the extensor, abductor and external rotator muscles that surround your hip joint.
HOW TO DO IT: Get onto your hands and knees. Begin by drawing in your abdominal muscles and flattening your low back like a table-top. Keeping your knee bent, raise one leg out to the side and slightly in back of you like you are a dog at a fire hydrant. Do not allow your pelvis to drop as you do this. Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then lower back down again. The exercise should be completed on both legs and can be made more challenging by adding a resistance band around your legs.
Guidelines and Precautions
To properly challenge the muscles in the hips and thighs at home, complete three sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise two to three times each week. While you should feel a muscular burn while working out, none of the exercises should cause pain. Be sure to address any concerns you have with your doctor prior to starting a new workout routine.