The hips are the centerpiece of your lower body. They create the coveted hourglass silhouette and are the powerhouse behind all athletic movement. If your workouts neglect your hips, you’re missing out on the chance to build a better body, inside and out.
Second only to the shoulder, the hip is the most mobile joint in the body. Every hip movement involves a handful of lower body muscles, including your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and groin.
With limited time to exercise, it’s tough to train all your hip muscles individually, so here are 5 movements to cover all your bases.
1. Kneeling Glute Mobilizations
To strengthen your hips effectively, you need them to move smoothly first. Stretching the backside of the hip can make lower-body exercises feel better.
Perform this kneeling glute mobilization for 8–10 reps on each side as part of your warm-up, or do them during the rest periods during your leg workout.
2. Split-Stance Kneeling Adductor Mobilizations
Side-to-side motion is just as important for strong hips as front-to-back motion, so stretching the groin muscles is a must. The split-stance kneeling adductor mobilization can loosen up the hips to help you get lower during squats and lunges.
Similar to the kneeling glute mobilization, do 8–10 reps on each side as a warm-up or an active rest exercise.
3. Bulgarian Split Squats
Few exercises involve more lower-body muscles than the Bulgarian split squat. By elevating the back foot on a bench, chair or couch, this split squat kicks lunges up a notch and will smoke your glutes and thighs, all while providing a deep stretch in the hip flexors.
This exercise is challenging with body weight alone, but you can increase the difficulty by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell at your chest or by your sides. Perform 2–3 sets of as few as 5 reps per side for pure strength or as many as 20 for a serious burn.
4. Plate-Loaded Lateral Lunges
Much like Bulgarian split squats, lateral lunges strengthen the hips while doubling as a stretch. Holding a weight (a 5- or 10-pound plate works well) at arm’s length ups the ante by turning on the anterior core muscles, turning this into a solid ab exercise, as well.
Do 2–3 sets of 8–10 reps with just your body weight as part of a warm-up, or hold weight in your hands to turn the lateral lunge into a true strength-building movement.
5. Wide-Stance Anti-Rotation Chops
Building a strong core is a surefire way to maintain healthy hips. Your abs and obliques work hard to stabilize your pelvis, helping keep your hips strong and supple. The wide-stance anti-rotation chop strengthens the core while challenging the hips in a lengthened position.
Start with light weight for 10–12 reps per side, using a full exhale on each rep to increase core activation. Stand with your feet well outside shoulder width, gradually increasing your stance width each workout as your flexibility allows.
Hips Don’t Lie
Whether you’re a fitness fanatic, an athlete or just want to fit into smaller jeans, your hips need special attention in the gym. These 5 exercises have your lower half covered, so try them out during your next leg workout.
Originally appeared on MyFitnessPal.