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Top 3 Exercises For Women To Improve Hip Mobility & Strength In 30 Days

Women’s hip anatomy differs from mens so coaching women through certain exercises can be very different from coaching men when it comes to technique, posture and balancing out any muscular and anatomical imbalances or weaknesses.

When you understand your anatomy better and learn how to perform movement patterns with correct technique, it completely changes the game. Knowing the correct way to perform an exercise sets you up for longevity and sustainability in your training. You can do a thousand gym classes and not get results - which is why so many women struggle to sustain their exercise practices and move from gym to gym, program to program trying to find something that sticks.

This guide exists to give you access to tangible, quality education to help you get ahead in your training and begin to see and feel the results and changes right away! May you walk away empowered with knowledge and excited to train more regularly and efficiently.

There’s a huge difference between performing an exercise because you’re told to and performing an exercise because you understand why. Every woman is unique. We have different body types, bone structures, weaknesses, limitations, lifestyles and goals. When it comes to training, it’s not always one-size-fits-all. There are certain methods and movement patterns that are universally beneficial for building strength, mobility and flexibility but you will likely perform these patterns differently to someone else when you are starting out according to your unique limitations so it's important to understand why and how to iron out the kinks so you can build strength, get results and move more effectively in everything you do.

Hip anatomy is a really important topic. Women naturally have wider set hips than men which means we tend to have difficulties developing strength in certain areas like our VMO or developing range of motion in others like our hips and ankles. We instead overcompensate in certain areas like out outer hips and lower back.

Do you get hip pain on long walks? Do you struggle to walk in soft sand without your ankles and hips aching after a while? Do you find your knees knock together when you try and perform squats in a gym class? Do you have niggles in and around your knees and ankles? Good news… all these things can be resolved quickly, simply and effectively when you have the tools and knowledge to do so!

Follow along with the videos below to learn more about your hips and start moving better right now…

90/90 Hip Stretch

How to perform the exercise:

Step 1: Start with setting up the front leg. Place your knee in front of your body, it should be pointed forward with your shin and ankle in-line with a 90-degree bend in the front knee

Step 2: Set up your back knee in a 90-degree angle behind you.

Step 3: Your front heel should line up with your back heel and your back knee should point out from the side of your body in a straight line so both of your shins are lined up on the same angle as if they were train tracks.

Step 4: If your flexibility is challenged, you can tuck your front foot in for a few attempts until you can achieve the stretch with more depth and without pain.

Step 5: Once you're in the correct set up, sit up tall and straighten your spine, take your hands the floor by your side trying to only balance on your fingertips. Then start to lean your body forward leading with your chest and belly button. Go as far as your can without curving your spine and then gently use your hips and glutes to bring back to straight. Repeat 10 times and pause for 10s at the bottom of your forward lean on the final rep.

90/90 Hip Stretch Video Guide:

What you want to be feeling:

You should be feeling a stretching sensation in your front hip as you lean forward and then in the back hip as you sit straight. You may experience some cramping. If this happens, bring yourself into a more comfortable position until the cramping subsides and then continue to work through your repetitions.

What not to do:

Try to avoid curving your spine too much or leaning too far to one side. When you're starting out, you may find it difficult to sit up straight. If you find yourself leaning to one side, adjust your leg placement to make it a bit more comfortable until you develop more flexibility and range of motion. Consistency is key.

This exercise along with the other hip-opening and strengthening movements below has the potential to dramatically improve your quality life by reducing pain, tension and limitations not only in your hips but also filtering into other key ‘pain-point’ areas of your body such as your lower back, knees and feet.

The 90/90 prep targets many of the smaller muscles around your hip ‘capsule’ including your glutes, piriformis, psoas, hip flexors, abductors (outer thighs) and adductors (inner thighs) and can help you improve mobility in your hips which will in turn reduce pain and improve your posture and functionality of your hips in larger movements like bending and squatting.

Standing Hip Flexion Lift Off

How to perform this exercise:

Step 1: Get set up standing with a box or object in front of you that you can put one foot up on. The leg that is on the box will be your targeted leg.

Step 2: While maintaining a neutral spine keeping your shoulders back and chest proud, lift the foot off the box as high as you can driving your knee up towards the ceiling. Hold for 3 seconds at the top and then lower slowly with control and repeat.

Standing Hip Flexion Lift Off Video Guide:

What you want to be feeling:

You will feel the hip flexor muscles engaging on the working side as well as your hip muscles on the supporting leg working also to maintain your stability.

What not to do:

Avoid leaning into one side or swaying from side to side. Try not to round or arch your spine to isolate the hip motion as much as possible. It’s not a big movement. Your strength develops through consistent control and stability in this movement.

We can all benefit from strengthening our hip flexor muscles. Sitting all day is a massive contributor to tight hip flexors and when these muscles are tight or under-developed they can contribute to causing lower back, hip pain and increase your risk of injury.

Have you ever done a class at the gym that involved a lot of sit ups and core exercises and then felt really tight in your hip flexors over the following days? This is because your hip flexors are the secondary muscle in a lot of abdominal exercises. If you are not paying attention to strengthening, lengthening and conditioning your hip flexors effectively, you will likely find overtime, that it begins to alter your posture and you will start to develop an 'anterior pelvic tilt’ to compensate.

By actively working on conditioning and strengthening these muscles in conjunction with learning to activate your core muscles, you’ll decrease your risk of long-term issues and the need for a hip replacement later in life and instead, you’ll see vast improvements to both these areas in no time!

This exercise is a great start to build stability and strength into your hip flexors by developing control and range of motion.

Weighted Butterfly Stretch

How to perform this exercise:

Step 1: Sit with the soles of your feet touching and knees bent towards the floor (aka frog or butterfly stretch position). Make sure your spine is straight and you are sitting forward onto your sit bones, not slumping and rounding your back. You can sit with your buttocks against a wall, keeping your back lifted forward off the wall to feel the correct posture.

Step 2: If this is uncomfortable and your knees are high off the floor, do not add weight. Simply use your own hands to place pressure on each knee and provide gentle resistance as you perform the movement. If you can sit comfortable in this position, place a dumbbell or weight on each knee for resistance to perform the exercise.

Step 3: Begin to slowly draw your knees together against the resistance engaging your inner thighs and then slowly release back down drawing your knees back towards the floor engaging your glutes. Repeat 10 times takes 3 seconds to lift and 3 seconds to lower.

Weighted Butterfly Stretch Video Guide:

What you want to be feeling:

You will feel a deep stretch through your hips. As you lift the knees, your inner thighs will engage and as you begin to lower, your glutes will engage.

What not to do:

You want to avoiding rounding your back or slumping into a posterior pelvic tilt (link to 2nd guide). Do not do this exercise if you experience any pain. Strain and muscle tension is okay, sharp pain is not.

Weighted Butterfly is an excellent exercise to open your hips and can be adapted to your level according to your current range of motion and limitations. There are a range of benefits from performing this exercise consistently and it's a great option for anyone who is sitting or standing for long periods of time to protect your hips from overuse injuries.

This exercise targets your hips along with your inner thighs and glutes and can help to develop strength in your knees and mobility in your hips and in turn also improve your posture. If you have tight hips or hamstrings, this is a great place to start! This stretch can also increase your circulation and stimulate digestion or ease menstrual cramps... ladies! Get onto it!

Final thoughts...

These 3 hip opening movements can be done as frequently as you feel necessary. Start with lower weights or load and work your way up as your mobility develops. These exercises should not cause pain but a healthy dose of strain or mild discomfort is normal when you're first starting out! Remember: it takes time and consistency to develop and improve.

If you’d like to improve your movement, mobility and health, click here and get in touch with me.

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