The modern sedentary lifestyle puts a lot of pressure on the hips, leading to hip pain, inflexibility, and poor posture. Unfortunately, the hips aren’t exactly a top-of-mind priority when you’re training. You have leg day, arm day, back day – but for a critical group of muscles that holds up the upper body and supports the movement of the lower body, there’s no hip day.
While we commonly say “hips,” this is an umbrella term for a group of muscles that surround and support the hip joints. The muscles that comprise the hips are:
- The glutes: Encompassing the gluteus maximum and gluteus medius, these aid in the movement of the lower body. But they can be severely neglected if you live an inactive lifestyle with frequent or excessive sitting.
- Hip flexors: These link your spine to your thighs and are typically engaged when you’re sitting down or when you lift your knees to your chest.
- Adductors: These run down the inside of your thighs and are responsible for bringing your legs together.
- Hamstrings: This is a group of muscles that runs down the back of your thighs. They connect your hips to your knees and are critical to most leg movements.
Take better care of your hips with banded stretches and banded hip exercises. Resistance bands can be powerful tools in helping you gain back your hip strength and mobility. They are awesome alternatives to weights as they are low-impact, affordable, portable, and easy to use. They come in a variety of lengths and resistance levels so you can gradually work your way up if you’re just getting into the practice.
Not sure how to use them? Here are some banded hip stretches to get you started.
10 Banded Stretches to Strengthen Your Hips
1. Banded Glute Bridges
The bridge is a crowd-favorite exercise because it’s easy to do, perfect for beginners, yet it effectively engages the hips, core, and glutes.
Wrap the resistance band above your knees and assume the starting position by lying down on your back with your knees bent upward. Your feet should rest on the floor below the glutes, just far apart enough to feel the band’s resistance, and your arms at your sides. Tighten your core as your lift your hips up until your torso forms a straight line to your knees.
Be careful to keep your hips leveled when you raise them. Your body should look like a sideways seven. Lower your hips back down to the floor to finish one rep. Complete 2 to 3 sets of 20 reps.
2. Glute Bridge March
Get your glutes, hamstrings, core, and hip flexors firing with a banded glute bridge with a marching twist.
Start the same way as the banded glute bridge, with the resistance band looped around the quads just above the knees and lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor just below your butt.
Here’s where it varies from the standard bridge. When you lift your hips to straighten your torso, simultaneously raise one leg up to your chest while the other remains on the floor. This little tweak makes you work double time because you’re engaging your core for your lifted leg while tightening your glutes for the other leg. Slowly bring your hips down and your foot back on the floor, then repeat on the same side.
Complete an equal number of repetitions per side.
3. Banded Clamshells
This may not the most comfortable nor aesthetically appealing exercise, but clamshells are proven to boost hip mobility and strength, particularly in the glutes. Typically, this exercise is already challenging because you’re going against gravity. But the addition of a band increases the resistance to engage the hip muscles further.
Position the resistance band above your knees. Lie down on one side with your hips, knees, and ankles stacked, and your knees bent at a 45-degree angle. You can prop your upper body up on one arm for better comfort and control.
Then, keeping your hips steady, core engaged, and feet together, slowly lift your top knee. Your legs will look like a clam opening up, hence the name. Hold the position momentarily, then lower your knee to the starting position. Complete 30 reps on one side before turning over to do an equal number of reps on the other side.
4. Banded Squats
Take your basic squat to the next level by wrapping a resistance band around your legs. This will push your hip muscles to work double-time and make it easier to feel if you’re maintaining the right form.
Begin by standing with your feet at a shoulder-width distance, with the resistance band either above or below your knees. Bend your knees to lower into a squat, staying mindful that your knees should stay above your toes. Hold the position momentarily to squeeze your glutes, then stand back up. Repeat this for 2 to 3 sets, at 20 reps each set.
5. Monster Walks
This exercise doesn’t just target your hip flexors but gets your quads firing as well.
Place the band above or below your knees, or at your ankles. Assume the starting position, standing with your feet at a hip-width distance. Keep your chest raised as you bend your knees to lower into a squat position. Hold your hands behind your back and step forward in a skating motion – touch your right heel to your left heel, then step forward diagonally. Your feet should move in an “in-out” motion.
Repeat this move 16 to 20 times, then walk backward doing the same motion.
6. Banded Jumping Jacks
A variation of the exercise we all know and love, this version adds a light resistance band into the mix to work your hip abductors while still maintaining the full range of motion you’d normally have when doing jumping jacks.
Wear the resistance band around your ankles. With your feet at a hip-width distance, lower into a shallow squat. Stay centered by clasping your hands at your chest. Complete one rep by jumping in and out, keeping your knees bent, and landing gently on your feet. Perform 15-20 reps.
7. Banded Hip Flexion
This exercise works on the front of your hips, so it particularly benefits runners, sprinters, football players, and similar athletes.
Wear the resistance band around both your ankles and stand with your legs straight. Slowly raise one leg forward, gradually bending the knee in a controlled manner as you move it up. You may want to have a chair or steady surface nearby to hold on to for balance. Repeat this 30 times on one side, then switch to the other leg.
8. Fire Hydrants
This home workout favorite helps to increase hip abductor strength and glute muscle strength.
Begin on all fours on the ground, with your hands positioned under your shoulders and your knees supporting your hips. The resistance band should be just above the knees. Slowly and with control, lift one knee sideways while retaining the bent position. Raise it as high as you can without overstraining the muscle and arching your back, then gently lower the knee back down.
Make sure to tighten your core and keep your back neutral to keep the focus of the banded stretch on your hips.
9. Pilates Kneeling Side Kick
While this helps open up your hips, this move also engages your core and arms. Who doesn’t love multi-purpose exercises?
Wrap a mini resistance band around your legs. Start by propping yourself up on your left knee and hands, then extending your right leg to rest your right foot on the floor to your side.
Lift your right leg upward until it is straight or parallel with the floor. Hold this momentarily, then lower your leg back to your starting position. Perform at least 10 reps a side before switching to the other leg. To get the most out of this exercise, make sure to straighten your back and steady your torso. Engage your abs and squeeze your outer thigh when doing this move.
10. Banded Lateral Walks
Also known as lateral shuffles, this side-to-side banded exercise helps improve hip strength and stability with a focus on your hip abductors and glutes.
Begin with the band wrapped around either your calves or ankles, then sink into a half-squat. Engage your core to keep your back flat and chest raised. Hold this position as you slowly step to the side. To engage your glutes, make sure to step with your whole foot, including the heels. Do 20 steps per side to complete one set. Perform 2 to 3 sets.
Start incorporating these banded hip stretches into your training and feel the difference for yourself!
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