We use our hip muscles - or hip extensors - every day, without ever really paying them too much attention. Every time you stand or sit, you're performing basic hip extension exercises. Every time we walk, jog, or run, we are performing hip extensions.
But while our hips are so important to our balance and mobility, the increasingly sedentary lifestyles that we lead can weaken this important joint and the muscles needed for hip movement. Over time, lack of use can cause injury and chronic pain.
For that reason, it's a great idea to incorporate hip extension exercises into your workout routines, to improve your fitness and strength, and to avoid injury!
What is a hip extension?
You perform a hip extension movement whenever you open or extend the front of your hip. We are performing a hip extension whenever we open up the hip muscles, and that happens every time you stand up and every time you walk across the living room!
When you open your hips up, you are extending a group of muscles known as your hip extensors. These muscles work together with your hip joint, to allow you to open up and lengthen your hips. This allows you to move your legs away from your pelvis, which is pretty handy if you want to walk anywhere!
Why is hip extension important?
Hip extension is incredibly important for our stability, balance, and mobility, but we often overlook just how important it really is to be able to effectively extend our hips.
Without hip extensions, human beings wouldn't be able to stand upright and walk on two legs. We wouldn't be able to jog or run, and we certainly wouldn't be able to play any sports.
We are constantly using hip extensions in daily life, but as our daily lives become increasingly sedentary in nature, our hip extensors can become underused. When we sit for prolonged periods of time, at a desk or in front of the computer screen, we aren't utilizing our hip extensors as much as they are designed to be utilized.
Over long periods of time, improper exercise or lack of exercise can lead to your hip extensors becoming weak or even damaged. This can lead to a lack of mobility and chronic pain (and in serious cases, even hip replacement surgeries!).
To avoid injury, even simply in your daily routine, it's important that you include hip extension exercises in your regular workout routines.
Hip extension muscles
The muscles we work when performing a hip extension are some of the most powerful muscles we have in the body, which is one reason why it's important to keep these muscles in good shape through regular exercise.
The two main muscles that are needed for hip extensions are the hamstrings and the gluteus maximus (that's your glutes). These two muscles are essential for movement, and strengthening them will help you to perform better in athletics and sports (as well as regular, daily life, of course!).
There are a range of exercises that can target these muscles to improve your hip extension movements and help you void injury in the long term.
Hip extension exercises
There are some excellent hip extensors exercises which will help you to improve the health of your hip joints and build your hip muscles. Incorporating a hip circle band into these hip extension exercises will help increase the resistance your body is working against. This will help you to tone your muscles and burn fat as you enjoy a more thorough workout.
We always recommend a light warm-up and stretches before you start your workout routine. You can add these hip extension exercises to an existing workout routine or use them independently.
Perform the exercises with reps of 10-15, and sets of three for the best results.
#1 Standing hip extension
The standing hip extension is one of the most effective (and also easiest) exercises to work your hips. You can hold onto the back of a chair or perform the exercise against a wall if you need more support are short on balance.
A resistance band placed around both ankles will help to add much more resistance to this workout, once you are comfortable with the movements and techniques.
Here's how to do a standing hip extension:
- Stand with your feet comfortably apart.
- Hold onto the back of a chair or push your hand against the wall for stability.
- Push through your right foot to keep it firmly planted on the ground.
- Keep your back straight and pull your left leg behind you, so it lifts off the ground.
- Return your left leg to the start positions and repeat.
- After 10-15 reps, switch legs and repeat the exercise with your right leg.
#2 Prone hip extension
Engage your lower body and work on your lower back muscles and glutes using prone hip extensions. This great exercise will help to strengthen your back and hip muscles to improve your hip extensions.
The movement is similar to the standing hip extension, except you are positioned prone on the floor. You can use an exercise ball to work your core muscles, or you can add a resistance band into the exercise to build strength in your legs.
How to do a prone hip extension:
- Place yourself flat on the floor in the prone position, with your legs stretched out behind you.
- Primarily using your glutes and lower back muscles, raise your left leg off the ground as high as it will go while keeping your core flat.
- Lower your leg and raise it again before you touch the ground.
- Repeat with the left leg 10-15 times, then switch to your right leg.
- You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by raising both legs simultaneously, rather than individually.
#3 Reverse lunge
Reverse lunges are one of the most effective hip flexion exercises you can regularly perform. You might already include reverse lunges in your exercise regime.
Reverse lunges help to open up your hip extensors while primarily targeting the hamstrings. You can increase the difficulty by using resistance bands or build strength by incorporating dumbells into the exercise too.
How to do a reverse lunge:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Step firmly backward with your right leg and bend both knees until they are at right angles.
- Bring your right leg back to the start point.
- Repeat the movement for 10 -15 repetitions.
- Switch legs and work your left leg for 10 - 15 repetitions.
#4 Glute bridge
Strengthen your hip extensors and your glute muscles by incorporating glute bridges into your exercise routine. You can add resistance to this exercise to help tone muscles by placing a resistance band just above your knees.
Here's how to correctly do glute bridges:
- Lie flat with your back on the floor, and your legs bent at right angles to the floor.
- Keep your feet flat to the ground and raise your hips towards the ceiling.
- Lower your hips down and repeat.
- You can add difficulty by keeping your core continually raised above the ground or by using a resistance band.
#5 Donkey kicks
Donkey kicks are a great way to strengthen your glutes and open up your hips. Once you have the correct technique mastered, this is an exercise you can work to improve by increasing the pace.
- Place yourself on all fours on the ground.
- Adjust your position, so your arms are held straight beneath your shoulders, and your knees are comfortably apart on the floor.
- Lift your right knee off of the ground and gently swing your leg behind you.
- Bring your knee back to the start position and repeat.
- Switch legs after 10-15 repetitions.
Once you are comfortable with the above steps, you can use a resistance band to increase the difficulty of the exercise and build up your glute muscles. Place one end of a resistance band around one ankle and the other end of the and around your hand and wrist to hold it in place. Then go through the donkey kick as per usual.
Benefits of hip extension exercises
Let's quickly recap by running through the benefits you can gain from performing regular hip extension exercises into your workout routines. Remember, you don't need to do these exercises every single day to see the benefits, but they are great to include a few times a week. Including a resistance band in your exercises will help you to realize these benefits more effectively too.
Here are the most important benefits that you'll see from hip extension exercises:
- Avid injuries when playing sports or exercising
- Avoid chronic and long term hip injuries
- Improve the overall health of your hip joints and muscles
- Burn fat and tone muscles
- Strengthen your glutes and hamstrings
- Improve your posture
- Tone your physique
Final word on hip extension exercises
Hip extension exercises can easily be incorporated into your regular workout schedule, and you'll quickly start to see the benefits and improvements they bring you.
Hip extension exercises will help you tone your muscles and improve your mobility while avoiding injuries, which is fantastic for both everyday life and sports training. Add in a hip circle band to your routines, for added resistance!