Muscles like the hip flexors need to be strong and flexible, but most people spend a lot of time stretching them. When it comes to hip flexors, you know to stretch them.
Stretching the hip flexors helps improve hip mobility and reduce your lower back pain to a certain extent.
But you also want to strengthen them because the combination of strength and mobility for the hip flexors is just what the trainer ordered. That’s right, trainer, not doctor. Anyway, trust me on this because I’m a trainer.
Here I’ll dive into the benefits of training those small muscles on the front of your hips and four exercises to incorporate into your training routine because the hips don’t lie. At least that’s what Shakira says.
The Benefits of Strengthening Your Hip Flexors
The hip flexors help create the lumbar curve as it pulls your lower spine forward and plays an essential role in all things locomotion. Here are three other significant benefits of training the hip flexors.
Improved Hip Mobility
A weak hip flexor often presents as a tight flexor, and strengthening them may help improve your hip mobility and strengthen all parts of the leg exercises you do, which leads to better hip extension and baby got back potential.
It Helps You Run Faster
The length and strength of the hip flexors directly affect your glutes and the ability to extend them. A tight or weak hip flexor means your glutes will not go into full extension, slowing you down. The stronger your hip flexors muscles are, the better your ability to drive off the ground faster. Strong, mobile hip flexors make running away from your angry partner easier. 😊
Reduced Lower Back Issues
The psoas is a back stabilizer and a connector between the lower and upper body because it attaches to the lower back and femur. A tight or short psoas can pull the lower back into further lordosis, causing anterior pelvic tilt and making you more prone to pain and lower-back issues.
4 Hip Flexor Exercises
It’s great to spend some time on your glutes but show your hip flexors some love with these simple but not easy exercises. Your glutes and lower back will thank you.
You will walk like Frankenstein, hence the name. Frankenstein warms up the hamstrings and hips and prepares your legs for lifting and running. Make sure you keep standing up straight, and the back will flex forward if you don’t have flexible hamstrings, so be careful.
Benefits: It helps improve your hip range of motion and your single-leg balance.
How to do it: Stand up straight with your arms by your side, step forward with your left foot, swing your right leg in the air as high as possible without arching your back, and reach forward with your left hand to touch your right foot.
Sets & Reps: Alternate sides for 5-10 reps for one or two sets.
Hanging Leg Lift
Hanging leg lifts, when done right, is challenging due to the demands on your grip, upper back, and hip flexors. They’re a fantastic exercise to strengthen your hip flexors and other core muscles. Plus, hanging leg lifts is a great exercise to improve your chin and pull-ups because you’re training your grip and upper back strength.
Benefits: Strengthens your hip flexors, core, grip, and upper back muscles all at the same time.
How to do it: Hang from a chin-up bar or squat rack bar high enough that your feet do not touch the ground when the legs are straight. With a firm grip, flex your hips and knees simultaneously as you draw the knees as high as possible towards your chest without using momentum. Slow return to the starting position and repeat.
Sets & Reps: 2 to 3 sets of between 6 to15 reps.
Bridging Psoas March
With the bridging hip flexor march, you’ll strengthen the hip flexors, core, glutes, and hamstrings in the hip extension position. Plus, you will train your single-leg stability to improve your balance and strength, and your glutes will get some serious muscular time under tension.
Oh my god, Becky, she has been doing the bridging psoas march.
Benefits: This exercise trains the hip flexor, lower back, and core as a unit for improved hip movement and reduced lower back pain.
How to do it: Loop a mini band around the top of your feet and place your heels on an elevated surface with your ankles pointed up, and lift your hips until lockout. Make sure the band is secured adequately around your feet. Then engage the core and glutes and bring one knee towards your chest while keeping the hips level. Return to the starting position, repeat on the other side, and alternate sides.
The boat pose doesn’t look like much but holding this pose for time will smoke your hip flexors, quads, lower back, and core muscles. The boat pose is a challenging exercise because it’s not easy to balance your glutes with your body shaking from holding this pose. When you do it, you’ll see what I mean.
Benefits: Strengthens core, hip flexors, adductors (inner thighs), and the lower back for improved hip mobility and posture.
How to do it: Sit down with your upper body upright, knees bent, and feet flat on the ground. Lean back tucking your tailbone under so your spine is straight and it is not uncomfortable for you. While leaning back, extend your legs into the air, lift your chest, and keep your shoulders down.
Sets & Reps: Hold for a time as part of your warm-up; start at 20 seconds, and work up from there.
Spending a little time a few times per week training your hip flexors will improve your lower body movements, core strength, and endurance. Then if you want to move your hips like Shakira, you’ll be able to do so.
You might lie, but your hips will not.