4 Hip-Strengthening Exercises

Keeping your hips strong can improve mobility and reduce pain

Hip-strengthening exercises can be incredibly beneficial if you are dealing with hip pain or weakness due to an injury, surgery, or chronic condition like hip arthritis. They are also useful for conditioning the hip muscles if you are a runner, weight lifter, older adult, or you wan to improve your balance, stability, or mobility.

This article explains the benefits of hip conditioning for different medical conditions or groups. It also provides step-by-step instructions for four different hip-strengthening exercises you can do at home without weights or special equipment.

Women in a yoga class
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Benefits of Hip-Strengthening Exercises

Hip-strengthening exercises can help stabilize both the hips and torso while increasing the range of motion of the hip joint. This can be beneficial not only in the rehabilitation of injuries and treatment of certain conditions, but for daily living.

Without strong hip muscles, you cannot walk, run, jump, squat, kick, climb, or lift heavy objects stably or change directions quickly to avoid obstacles or falls.

Ideally, hip-strengthening exercises should target all three hip muscle groups. These include:

  • Gluteal muscles of the buttocks and outer thigh, which rotate the hips internally and externally and draw the thigh bones inward (abduction)
  • Hip adductors of the inner thigh, which move the thigh bones outward (adduction)
  • Iliopsoas muscles, which are situated within the pelvis and move the knee toward the chest (hip flexion)

Rehab and Treatment

Hip-strengthening exercises may be included as part of a physical therapy treatment plan for a range of medical conditions, including:

Conditioning and Injury Prevention

Hip conditioning should be a part of your workout routine if you are a runner, weight lifter, performance athlete, or engage in team sports. These exercises can strengthen and better prepare your muscles for the work you're taxing them with during activity.

The exercises also help if your job involves heavy lifting, climbing, or navigating steps or steep elevations.

Hip-strengthening exercises are especially important as you get older as your hip bones and tendons weaken and the hip joints become increasingly vulnerable to injury, arthritis, and fractures.

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Click Play to Learn How to Do Hip Exercises

This video has been medically reviewed by Laura Campedelli, PT, DPT.

4 Exercises to Strengthen Your Hips

These quick-and-easy exercises will target and strengthen your hip muscles in different ways. As you get more confident with the exercises and start to build strength, you can add repetitions or sets, or strap on ankle weights for added tension.

These exercises should be done three to five times per week. Start with one or two sets and gradually increase to three or four.

A rest day is important as it not only allows the muscles to recover but helps build muscle by filling in microtears that occur during routine exercise.

Side Leg Raise

The side leg raise help strengthens the hip adductors. The exercise is good if you are recovering from a groin pull, labrum tear, or hip replacement surgery. It is also great for athletes who need to switch directions rapidly, such as football, basketball, tennis, or soccer players.

To do the straight leg raise:

  1. Lie on the floor on your right side.
  2. Bend your right leg, and rest your left foot on the ground.
  3. Slowly lift your left leg as high as you can without bending at the waist. This helps keep the spine stable. Keep your leg in line with your trunk and not in front of it.
  4. Hold for five seconds, and then slowly lower the leg.
  5. Repeat five times.
  6. Switch sides, lying on your left side and lifting your right leg.

Isometric Gluteus Medius Exercise

The isometric gluteus medius exercise targets the gluteus medius muscle, which connects the upper thigh bone to the pelvis. It is one of the main stabilizer muscles that helps control the rotation of your hip and thigh bones.

This exercise is important as it prevents the opposite side of the pelvis from dropping while walking, running, or standing on one leg. It is especially valuable for seniors who want to improve their stability and balance.

Isometric exercises are those in which one muscle works against the next. This one requires a belt or strap.

To do the isometric gluteus maximum exercise:

  1. Lie on one side.
  2. Place a belt around both ankles so that your ankles are slightly wider than your hips.
  3. Lift your top leg up, pressing your opposite leg toward the ground. Keep your knees straight.
  4. Hold this position for five seconds, keeping tension in both directions. There won't be much movement, but you should feel your thigh muscles tightening.
  5. Release, pause, and repeat 10 times.
  6. Switch sides.

Hip Flexion Exercise

This is a very basic hip exercise suitable for anyone who is recovering from an injury of the iliopsoas muscles. This includes muscle strains caused by sprinting, kicking, or sudden changes in direction while running.

It is also good for people who have difficulty navigating stairs or have lower back pain.

To do the hip flexion exercise:

  1. Stand up straight. If you are unsteady, stabilize yourself by holding the wall or the back of a chair with one hand.
  2. Lift your right leg off the floor in a smooth but steady fashion. Bend your knee to create a 90-degree angle at the hip.
  3. Hold for five seconds. Slowly lower the leg.
  4. Repeat five times.
  5. Switch sides.

The Wall Slide

This is an excellent exercise that targets the iliopsoas muscles while simultaneously strengthening the gluteal muscles and the muscles of the thighs (called the quadriceps).

Runners, cyclists, or people whose jobs require heavy lifting can benefit from the wall slide either on its own or when used as a warm-up to a workout routine.

To do the wall slide:

  1. Stand upright with your back against a wall. Place our feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Slowly bend your knees, sliding your back down the wall. Do this for a count of five until your knees are bent at a 45-degree angle. Do not bend further than this as it can place excessive strain on the knees.
  3. Hold for five seconds.
  4. Slowly straighten your knees for a count of five, sliding up the wall. Finish in an upright position with your knees straight.
  5. Repeat five times.

The wall slide may be challenging for older adults or anyone with significant knee problems. People who are overweight or have lower body weakness may also find it difficult.

Additional Training

In addition to hip exercises, incorporate exercises that target the knees and ankles. This is because the ankle and knee muscles help control the position of your hips, just as the hip muscles control the position of your knees and ankles. These muscles work together to stabilize you whenever you stand, walk, squat, run, or jump.

Summary

Hip-strengthening exercises can improve the stability and strength of your hips and pelvis while walking, running, squatting, lifting, jumping, or navigating stairs. They are good for people who are recovering from a hip injury or surgery or those living with hip arthritis.

Hip-strengthening exercises are also good if you have no hip concerns but simply want to improve your balance, coordination, and strength. This not only includes athletes, but also older adults who want to maintain or improve their mobility.

A Word From Verywell

If you have never done exercise before, it is in your best interest to speak with your healthcare provider to understand the risks and identify your limitations. This is especially true if you are older, have severe hip arthritis, or are recovering from a hip injury or surgery.

In cases like these, you may be advised to work with a physical therapist or, at the very least, a qualified personal trainer. They can show you the correct way to do an exercise and help you avoid injury.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What exercises should you do before hip replacement surgery?

    Low-impact exercises may help strengthen your muscles before hip replacement surgery. Try gentle stretching, walking, and using a stationary bicycle. Always get your healthcare provider or surgeon's OK first.

  • What exercises are good for hip arthritis?

    Swimming and pool exercises are good options as they relieve the hip of any weight-bearing pressure. Other options include walking, rowing, bicycling, and using an elliptical trainer. Avoid exercises that impact the hip joints, such as running, or sports that involve fast turns and stops, like basketball.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sparks Flack NAM, Nicholson HD, Woodley SJ. A review of the anatomy of the hip abductor muscles, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fascia lata. Clin Anat. 2012 Sep;25(6):697-708. doi:10.1002/ca.22004

  2. American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons. Home therapy exercises before hip or knee replacement.

  3. Harvard Health Publishing. Exercise: Rx for overcoming arthritis.

By Laura Inverarity, DO
 Laura Inverarity, PT, DO, is a current board-certified anesthesiologist and former physical therapist.