Exercises to Train Your Oft-Neglected Hip Muscles
I took a yoga class recently with my partner. It didn’t go as well as I had expected. I knew I wasn’t as flexible as I would like, but damn, if it wasn’t more humbling than anticipated.
I can squat and deadlift upwards of 300 pounds when I’m training my lower body rigorously. But this class was a reminder that I don’t train my hips in any sort of diverse way.
I train like a meathead, and I say that with no shame. Regardless, this serving of humble pie encouraged me to revisit alternative hip-strengthening exercises I’ve used with myself and some clients.
This guide is going to skip over the big dogs of hip training. Primarily squatting, lunging and hinging. Training those movements hard is awesome.
I'd strongly suggest you do if you’re not already doing so. But this will be centred around some less conventional ways to train your hips and hitting those muscles less exposed to stimulus in typical gym exercises.
Let’s get to it.
I’ll start by reviewing some basic anatomy of the hips and ways we can train them.
Movement will generally take place in one of three planes.
For sagittal, think of moving your hips forward and back. A Romanian Deadlift would be primarily in the sagittal plane.
For frontal, think of moving your hips side to side. A lateral split squat would involve a lot of frontal plane loading.
For transverse, think of rotating your hips. A seated abduction/adduction machine would involve your hips moving through the transverse plane.
If you haven’t pieced it together yet, most of the training we do in the gym for our lower body primarily takes place in the sagittal plane. When it comes to the hips specifically, most of these exercises also train hip extension.
Squats, deadlifts, lunges and hip thrusts are all primarily in the sagittal plane but also train the hip…