Today I’m sharing 9 of my favorite hip and glute strengthening exercises that’ll stabilize your hips joints and help you get relief from pain. I’ll be including bodyweight exercises, banded exercises, as well as a few more challenging variations using sliders.
Why You Should Strengthen The Glutes
Did you know that the gluteus maximus is the biggest muscle in the human body? Your glute muscles are one of the biggest muscle stabilizers and movers and are designed to be the strongest muscles in your body. (that should tell you something). And if you’re experiencing hip pain or pelvic dysfunction, there is a big chance your glutes are out of balance.
The majority of people have extremely weak glutes. We just don’t develop our glutes to their full potential, and that’s because of so a few main reasons…
…Our sedentary lifestyle plays a role. We’re sitting almost all the time. Our internal limiting beliefs about achieving more strength, and the fear to exercise, lift weights, and develop stronger muscles. This all led to an interesting phenomenon…
… A newly developed condition called ‘dead butt syndrome‘…also referred to as glute amnesia. If you’ve ever tried to contract your glutes after sitting for a long day, and no matter how hard you tried, you just couldn’t feel it… that my friend is glute amnesia. And everyone experiences it at some point in life.
Hip Stability vs Hip Mobility
Should you mobilize or stabilize your hips? First, let’s look at the hip joint. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint and it’s designed for mobility (like the shoulder joint). The hip joint is surrounded by stabilizers (muscles). Too much mobility can drive the hips out of alignment and balance.
Stable hips rely on balanced muscle stabilizers. That means you want healthy functional muscles (not too tight and not too loose). Now, it’s important to realize two things when it comes to this:
- The glute muscles tend to get weak with misuse (and underuse).
- The hip flexor muscles tend to get tight and overactive with misuse (and overuse).
So what ends up happening when you’re sitting for hours all day? Well, extremely tight hip flexors and very weak glutes. Yet, what do people do when they start getting glute pain? Yup, they start stretching the glutes…all the time…leading to more weakness….more pain… And the cycle continues.
Even Yoga Journal wrote about the importance of stabilizing your hips as you build strength. You can read more about that here.
How To Effectively Stabilize Your Hips
Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. I only mention products I personally use and recommend…and if you purchase from Amazon using my affiliate link, I get a small commission. You won’t pay more!
Now, before I even get to the exercises, we need to first release the hip flexors. Here’s the thing…tight hip flexors will inhibit the glutes (that’s just what they do when they get overactive), and this will lead to compensation.
We want to first inhibit the hip flexors and release tightness so we can ‘unlock’ our hips and let the glutes complete their job properly (and through the full range of motion).
I have a step by step tutorial on how to release the PSOAS muscle (the biggest hip flexor muscle). The link below will open up in a new tab so you can go back to this post. (Or you can read it later. Just make sure you release the PSOAS first before doing exercises. You’ll notice a big difference, I promise)
- Here’s a step-by-step video post on how to release the PSOAS muscle (the biggest hip flexor muscle in your body). The link will open in a new tab!
9 Hip-Strengthening Exercises
I’ve created a step-by-step video that’ll take you through each hip strengthening exercise. However, if you can’t watch it right now, simply scroll down to view the exercise images.
I do recommend you watch the video tutorial when you can to make sure you’re doing everything with proper form. Here are the resistance loop band that I recommend. I purchased these lately and they are awesome. I actually had to return two bands from different companies before getting these ones. There are a lot of low-quality bands out there, these ones I purchased recently are great and high-quality.
Hip Exercises Breakdown:
The backward lunge is a great exercise that works the glutes and core stability. Make sure you keep your glutes and core tight here. Also, if this is a bit more advanced, you can also do static backward lunges, where you just keep your foot stable on the ground, as you go up and down.
Sliding Backward Lunges
Ready to take the lunge to the next level? Try the sliding backward lunges. This is a great low impact exercise that really challenges your core too. Make sure you’re not compensating by rounding your back. Also, these are the sliders I use.
Hip Hinge To Leg Lift
The hip hinge is not quite a squat. Make sure you’re pushing your glutes back vs down…you don’t have to go very low in this exercise. (you can add a band to this exercise.)
When you’re performing the bridge exercise, always use a band. You can pick a low resistance rubber band as demonstrated. But, I recommend you get the fabric ones. They don’t roll and make a huge difference in activating the glutes…Also, if you’re not sure how to do the bridge exercise properly? check out this step-by-step bridge tutorial here.
One-Legged Glute Bridge
[Advanced] This exercise is challenging. You need to keep your core engaged and glutes tight as you push through your heel up. The moment you release your muscles, your back will kick in. And you don’t want to transfer force into your lower back. So if that happens, don’t worry, just take a break. And do another set whenever you feel ready (or revert back to the glute bridge).
Glute Bridge To Band Pull-outs
[Intermediate] This is an excellent hip stabilization exercise. We’re going to be starting the exercise by performing the bridge, then instead of coming down, keep your glutes up (and tight), and pull the band out to activate your gluteus medius. You just want to feel the contraction and slowly go back to the normal bridge and back down.
Banded Side Leg Raises
[Intermediate] You can start with just your bodyweight but I like to add the band because it ensures my glute medius is engaged, and I’m not lifting my leg too high that I’m starting to flex my body to the side. Keep this exercise small. Make sure you’re not rotating your hips forward or backward and not flexing to the side.
[Intermediate] I have a love-hate relationship with this exercise. I don’t recommend it if you’re going through a flare-up, or have piriformis pain. The main reason is…most people do this exercise wrong and end up with more pain after.
This exercise is meant to activate the gluteus medius. It is not meant to be a big movement. So make sure you’re maintaining a neutral posture and not rocking back and forth to open up your hips more.
Gluteus Maximus Contractions
This is an excellent exercise to strengthen your mind-muscle connection and re-awaken the glutes. Again, this is not a big exercise (small effectively contractions). Our aim is motor unit activation…activating the muscle through the recruitment of motor units.
If you’re in a lot of pain right now, I DON’T recommend you start with exercise. You may just make the pain worse (especially if you can’t work the muscle that’s hurting). Your goal, when you’re in pain, is to settle the pain by avoiding pain triggers and moving properly. I highly recommend you sign up inside the Back Pain Bootcamp if you want to learn how to do this. I have step-by-step tutorials that’ll help you settle the pain, release chronic tension, and then build a strong muscle foundation…