Get Stronger Hips with Active Mobility Training
If you want stronger hips, you're going to want to learn about active mobility.
Our hips are powerhouses, helping us through virtually every lower body movement and providing stability for us in upper body exercises as well. With so much power, comes responsibility, as in you have to take care of them! Our daily sitting (driving, desk work, school) all adds up to one thing: tight and weak hips. We’ve talked about combating this tightness before, but our hips are so complex that this subject warrants deeper attention.
They are not just a simple ball in socket joint; the hips are the culmination of ligaments, tendons, muscle, and bone working together in complicated ways to keep us centered and grounded, in every position and activity. Keeping them mobile and strong is key to enjoying more freedom of movement in all the amazing parts of your life, including your fitness training! Today, let’s zero in on the straddle-variety of healthy hip movements to mobilize and strengthen this crucial spot.
Passive Mobility First: Stretch Your Hips
A simple stretch to get started with loosening up those hips is the pancake stretch, which you can address in detail using the Gymnasticbodies Stretch Series. In a pancake stretch, we are sitting on the floor, with a straight back and legs straddled apart in front of us.
For some, simply sitting upright in this position is a great stretch at first. If this position is comfortable, however, you can begin hinging at the hips to deepen the stretch, as long as your back and knees remain straight (don’t curl your spine to go deeper)!
Hint: If you’re having trouble maintaining a straight back, try sitting on a stretch block or other elevated surface. Elevate your hips as high as you need to in order to maintain a completely straight back.
Hold this stretch for 3 rounds of 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise in this article. Rest between each set by bending your knees and shaking your legs out for a moment to stimulate blood flow that aids in recovery.
Ultimately, this stretch will live up to its namesake when you can lay flat with your torso on the ground in front of you. The saying “flat as a pancake” actually came from this tried and true stretch. (Okay, maybe that's stretching the truth. Haha...ha.....ha.)
Active mobility exercises like this are a critical part of developing healthy hips. Find more like this in the Foundation Courses!
Active Mobility: Stronger Hips at Greater Angles
Now it’s time to get moving with this active hip strengthener. Start back in your seated pancake position and place your hands flat on the floor between your legs. Keeping your knees as straight as possible, push down into the floor with your hands and try to lift both legs up off the ground.
Frozen? That’s totally fine! This is a tough exercise, so to scale, place your hands behind your hips and lean backward a little. That will make lifting your legs much easier. If it’s still too tough for comfort, try one leg at a time, alternating each leg.
Once you have both legs off the floor, begin making small circles with them (see video above). Shoot for 5 controlled circles in each direction before letting your feet down. Repeat for 2 more rounds before moving on to the final exercise!
Show Off Your Hip Strength
If you have stronger hips but want a challenge, this next exercise is for you! Involving the shoulders, hips, thighs, and core, the Straddle L hits many parts of the body. But, your hips are running the show here. If you want to get off the ground then they have to WORK!
Begin in a wide straddle. Then, with your hands flat on the floor in front of you, squeeze the heck out of every muscle in your body as you push down strong with your arms. The goal is to lift your legs and hips up off the ground and hold. If you managed to get up, that’s awesome! Keep working on holding that position for longer amounts of time.
If you still need more practice to get there, you can simply use your arms to push your behind up in the straddle. You can practice reps here, or work on trying to lift one straight leg at a time. Keep working and it will come!
Practicing these movements regularly can help build and maintain stronger hips, and positions like this are especially important if you spend long hours sitting on the daily. With some continuous care, your hips can live up to their full potential. We see more comfortable walking, running, and jumping for joy in your future! If you’re looking for even more information and exercises on hip health, be sure to check out the Gymnasticbodies Online Courses.