Have you ever seen someone with really defined hips? That little indentation along the sides of their bottom that just perks everything right up? Strong hips beautiful are not only nice to look at, they're also the key to improving your speed and efficiency in swimming, biking, running—and everything in between.
To define your hips, you'll need to strengthen your glutes and abdominals. Together these three areas form the girdle of your body and they're responsible for the majority of human movement.
Weak hips directly translate to weak knees and weak ankles; keeping them strong and mobile is essential to preventing injury as we get older.
The following five exercises should be performed as a circuit, meaning one right after the other. Do each exercise for one minute before moving on to the next for maximum muscle fatigue. Repeat each circuit a total of three times, resting 30 to 60 seconds between rounds. The only equipment you need for this circuit is your bodyweight, a wall and a mat, making it a good option for people traveling or trying to get in a quick workout at home.
Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, knees bent and heels roughly 6 inches from your bottom. Draw your belly button toward your spine as you inhale, then exhale as you rise up into a bridge position. Inhale as you hold the bridge for five seconds, focusing on keeping your weight evenly distributed in your feet and toes. Exhale as you lower back to center, lowering your spine one vertebrae at a time. Continue for one minute.
Lie on your back in the same starting position as the hip bridge. Draw your belly button toward your spine as you inhale, then exhale as you rise up into a bridge position. Draw your abs in and activate your glutes. Holding your bridge position and keeping your weight in your left heel, slowly lift up your right leg to a 90-degree angle position. Hold for count and then slowly lower back down to the floor. Lift your left leg and repeat. Continue this marching position for one minute. Be mindful to not let your hips drop from one side to another as you march. A good way to keep track of this is to rest your fingers lightly on your hip bones as you march so that you can feel and see any imbalance from side to side.
Side-lying Leg Raises
Lie on your right side, propped up on your right forearm, with your backside completely up against a wall. Make sure your heels are stacked on top of each other and are touching the wall. Engage your abdominals and inhale as you lift your top leg up, keeping your heel brushing up against the wall as you lift it up. Hold for one count and then exhale as you lower back down. Continue this for 30 seconds before switching sides. By keeping your heels stacked and your body up against the wall, you eliminate the tendency to roll forward or backward during the movement, allowing you to target your hips, glutes and obliques more effectively. As you get stronger, you can add ankle weights to this exercise for more of a challenge.
Start in a plank position on your forearms. Make sure you keep your elbows underneath your shoulders, engage your glutes, draw your belly up toward your spine, and push through your heels. Slowly swivel your left hip as you lower it down to the mat, exhale as you return to the start position. Then swivel your right hip down and exhale as you come back up to center. Continue the "turn-key" motion while holding the plank for one minute.
More: 30-Day Plank Challenge
Frog on the Mat
Lie on your back with your legs straight out, heels together, and lifted 6 inches off of the ground. Place your hands underneath your low back and either rest your head on the mat if you have neck problems or keep it lifted off of the ground. Keeping your heels together, create a diamond shape with your legs by drawing your knees up toward your shoulders as you inhale. Hold for one count and then exhale as you extend your legs back out to start. Keep kicking out and in like this for one minute, drawing your abs in tightly, and squeezing your glutes the entire time.
Stay in shape in a fitness class.