How to Strengthen Your Hip Muscles With These 6 Exercises

Learn the best hip exercises to try at home, recommended by physical therapists.

Published Date: Mar 21, 2024

How to Strengthen Your Hip Muscles With These 6 Exercises

Learn the best hip exercises to try at home, recommended by physical therapists.

Published Date: Mar 21, 2024

How to Strengthen Your Hip Muscles With These 6 Exercises

Learn the best hip exercises to try at home, recommended by physical therapists.

Published Date: Mar 21, 2024

How to Strengthen Your Hip Muscles With These 6 Exercises

Learn the best hip exercises to try at home, recommended by physical therapists.

Published Date: Mar 21, 2024
Table of Contents

Whether you’re doing a difficult workout, playing sports, or going about daily activities, your hips play a central role in everything you do. They support your body weight and help you move your legs, which allows you to do everything from walking and climbing stairs to running and playing pickleball. And the surrounding muscle tissue helps to support your joints while stabilizing your pelvis and core to promote stability in your entire lower body.

Whether you experience persistent pain in your hips, you’re recovering from an injury, or you just want to keep your hips healthy to prevent these things, it’s important to prioritize exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve hip mobility. “A physical therapist can help you target your hips specifically while individualizing your exercise routine to provide challenges or modifications as needed,” says Sarah Kellen, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Hinge Health. 

In this article, learn more about why hip strength and mobility are important, and how to keep your hips healthy with exercises recommended by Hinge Health physical therapists. 

Our Hinge Health Experts

Sarah Kellen, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Dr. Kellen is a Hinge Health Physical Therapist and board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist. She has a special interest in pregnancy and postpartum care.
Jonathan Lee, MD, MBA
Orthopedic Surgeon and Medical Reviewer
Dr. Lee is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and an Associate Medical Director at Hinge Health.
Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

Strengthening Exercises for Your Hips

If your hips hurt, it may feel counterintuitive to exercise. Similarly, if you’re not in pain, you may not think physical therapy exercises are all that useful. In either scenario, Dr. Kellen says an exercise program that focuses on strength and mobility can help promote healthy everyday movement, which can reduce and prevent pain in your hips. 

With hip-strengthening exercises, Dr. Kellen encourages focusing on all the muscles surrounding your hip joints, such as your hip flexors and psoas, along with the glutes (the muscles at the back of your hips). The exercises below recommended by Hinge Health physical therapists are a great place to start. 

1. Side-Lying Leg Raise

1. Side-Lying Leg Raise

This exercise targets the muscles on the outside of the hip, which are important for single-leg movements, like climbing stairs or running, says Dr. Kellen. Working each leg individually can also help with muscle imbalances, which may contribute to discomfort on one side of your body. 

How to Do It: 

  • On a yoga mat, lie on your side, using your arm or a cushion for head support. 

  • Keep your legs straight, and have your feet stacked on top of one another. 

  • Next, lift your top leg toward the ceiling while you keep your leg straight and your hips stacked. 

  • Focus on squeezing your hip and butt muscles as you hold at the top. 

  • Then, relax your leg down to the starting position. 

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your butt and hip muscles working. 

2. Hip Thrust

2. Hip Thrust

The hip thrust helps build strength in your glutes and also stretches the front of your hips in the process. “It allows your muscles to go through their full range of motion, which can also promote mobility,” says Dr. Kellen.

How to Do It: 

  • Start by leaning with your back against a steady couch, and the bottom of your shoulder blades resting near the top of the couch cushion. Your knees are bent with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. 

  • Now, push through your feet to lift your hips off the floor. 

  • Focus on keeping your hips raised to the height of your shoulders.

  • Then, lower your butt down to the floor.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your butt, hips, thighs, and hamstring muscles working.

3. Fire Hydrant

3. Fire Hydrant

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This exercise activates and strengthens the muscles on the outside of your hips. The rotation movement also encourages hip joint mobility and increases leg stability for everyday movements.

How to Do It: 

  • On a yoga mat, get into a comfortable position on your hands and knees. 

  • Next, lift one leg off the floor by moving your knee out to your side and toward the ceiling.

  • Keep your knee bent during the movement. 

  • Focus on squeezing your butt muscles while you hold this position. 

  • Now bring your leg back to the starting position. 

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your hip and butt muscles working.

Mobility Exercises for Your Hips

Hip mobility exercises focus on easing movement-limiting tension by stretching muscles surrounding your hips and working the joint through its normal range of motion. The following exercises help enhance flexibility and also alleviate discomfort associated with tight hip muscles.

4. Hip Flexor Stretch

4. Hip Flexor Stretch

Sitting frequently without changing positions can lead to tension in the hips. The hip flexor stretch helps stretch the front of the hips to relieve discomfort and improve range of motion. 

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing comfortably with your feet hip-width apart. 

  • Take a big step forward with one foot. 

  • Bend through your front knee while you push your other hip forward. 

  • Keep your chest upright as you hold this position. 

  • Now, push through your front foot to step back and return to standing. 

  • As you do each rep, you should feel a stretch in the front of your hip.

5. Butterfly Stretch

5. Butterfly Stretch

Lying on your back and stretching your hips with your knees open helps address tight muscles in the inner hips. “It’s a nice way to help ease tension in those muscles because they commonly get tight, which can affect hip mobility and cause some pain,” says Dr. Kellen. 

How to Do It:

  • On a yoga mat, lie comfortably on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. 

  • Now bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to fall comfortably out to your sides and toward the floor. 

  • Focus on breathing slowly as you hold this position. 

  • Then return to the starting position.

  • As you do this exercise, you might feel a gentle stretch in your groin area and inner thigh muscles. 

6. Figure 4

6. Figure 4

This movement stretches your front hip muscles along with your glutes at the back of your hips to ease tension in both spots. Loosening up these muscles can help with any movement involving your hips, especially bent-over activities such as tying your shoes, says Dr. Kellen. 

How to Do It:

  • Lie on your back on a yoga mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place one of your ankles on your opposite knee. 

  • Now, loop your hands around the back of your thigh or the front of your knee, and gently pull your knee toward your head. Your foot will lift off the floor.

  • Continue to pull your knee up toward your head as you hold this stretch.  

  • Then, release your foot back to the floor to return to the starting position.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your hip muscles and the back of your leg.

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

The Benefits of Hip Exercises

“You don’t have to wait until your hips are hurting to benefit from physical therapy,” says Dr. Kellen. Strengthening your hip muscles with exercise can help to support your hip joints, which is important for preventing injury. Strong hip muscles can also relieve symptoms of natural, age-related changes in your hips by taking pressure off the joints. Strengthening exercises also help to improve bone density as you age. 

Hip mobility exercises help promote healthy range of motion in your hips by increasing flexibility, reducing stiffness, and improving joint lubrication. They also reduce pain and discomfort by loosening tight muscles and improving circulation. This all allows for smoother and more efficient movement patterns that translate into improved performance during physical tasks and reduced risk of injury.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you.

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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  1. Kemp, J. L., Mosler, A. B., Hart, H., Bizzini, M., Chang, S., Scholes, M. J., Semciw, A. I., & Crossley, K. M. (2020). Improving function in people with hip-related pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of physiotherapist-led interventions for hip-related pain. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 54(23), 1382–1394. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2019-101690

  2. Konrad, A., Močnik, R., Titze, S., Nakamura, M., & Tilp, M. (2021). The Influence of Stretching the Hip Flexor Muscles on Performance Parameters. A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(4), 1936. doi:10.3390/ijerph18041936

  3. Uusi-Rasi, K., Patil, R., Karinkanta, S., Tokola, K., Kannus, P., & Sievänen, H. (2017). Exercise Training in Treatment and Rehabilitation of Hip Osteoarthritis: A 12-Week Pilot Trial. Journal of Osteoporosis, 2017, 1–7. doi:10.1155/2017/3905492

Table of Contents
Strengthening Exercises for Your HipsMobility Exercises for Your HipsThe Benefits of Hip ExercisesHow Hinge Health Can Help You References