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The 10 Best Hip Flexor Exercises

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The Best Hip Flexor Exercises

What are the best hip flexor exercises?

Keeping the hip area strong and flexible is essential for everyday life. 

The hip flexors are responsible for many movements in the body, including walking, running, bending, and swiveling. 

You’ve come to the right place if you’re on the hunt for some hip flexor exercises you can do to build strength and prevent injury. 

Let’s get into the best hip flexor exercises that will tone and strengthen your entire lower body. 

 

The Best Hip Flexor Exercises

Our exercise lists are created by determining the best exercises for muscle growth, core strength, and overall health and well-being. 

Here’s our list of the 10 best hip flexor exercises:

 

10. Skater Squats

Best Hip Flexor Exercises - Skater Squats

Great for:

Working on balance and strength in the lower body and warming up those powerful muscle groups. 

How to do it:

  1. Get into a squat position with your knees bent and lower your hips and butt downward, keeping the chest lifted to perform a squat
  2. After you complete a squat, shift your weight to your right leg, and lift the opposite leg upward and off to the side
  3. Alternate legs 
  4. Repeat as desired 

Why:

Skater squats are a unilateral exercise that isolates each leg and challenges the balance in your lower body. These squats develop each leg individually, isolating the hip and leg muscles. 

Skater squats work the quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves and even activate the core for support.

When:

Skater squats are popular for warm-ups and effectively wake up the hips and lower body before a heavy leg day or lower body workout. 

The mechanics of the movement may feel strange at first, so try to get your form and balance down before adding too many reps.

 

9. Kettlebell Swings

Best Hip Flexor Exercises - Kettlebell Swings

Great for:

One of the best hip flexor exercises for getting your heart rate up through explosive movements, promoting stability in the spine, and improving pelvic mobility. 

How to do it:

  1. Start with the kettlebell on the floor between your feet at shoulder-width apart
  2. Hinge at the hips and grab the bell with both hands 
  3. Pull the kettlebell back between your legs to create momentum 
  4. Drive your hips forward and stand up tall to swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height 
  5. Bring the bell back down between your legs, and drive your hips up again
  6. Repeat as desired 

Why:

Tight hip flexors are a common problem, even for the most athletic person. 

Kettlebell swings require strength endurance in the back while minimizing muscle imbalance thanks to the muscle activation required in the hips. 

Every time you swing that bell and launch your hips forward, you’re giving those tight hips a nice stretch.

When:

Kettlebell swings are versatile enough to be included in nearly any workout. 

It could be part of your warm-up to get the heart pumping or an integral hip flexor exercise in any leg day, arms and back day, or any strength training program.

 

8. Hanging Leg Raises

Best Hip Flexor Exercises - Hanging Leg Raises

Great for:

Activating both hip flexors to strengthen hip and knee flexion while simultaneously training the core.

How to do it:

  1. Grasp the bar above your head with an overhand grip 
  2. Lift your feet off the ground and slowly raise your legs straight out in front of you 
  3. Lean your hips and pelvis back to engage your hip flexors
  4. Raise your legs until it feels challenging (but you can keep the proper form) 
  5. Slowly lower your legs back down to the starting position 
  6. Repeat as desired

Why:

The hanging leg raise activates both the primary hip flexors, the sartorius, and the iliopsoas.

These flexors support hip and knee flexion and support side bending and flexing the lumbar spine.

The higher you can raise your legs in this move, the more work your core will be challenged to do. We aim to get the legs parallel with the ground or slightly higher.

When:

This move does require some equipment to hang from, typically completed on a captain’s chair or pull-up bar.

Sets should consist of 10 reps each, so aim for that if you can do that with solid form.

 

7. Bulgarian Split Squats

Best Hip Flexor Exercises - Bulgarian Split Squats

Great for:

Training balance and coordination through a unilateral squat, building quad strength through muscle isolation. 

How to do it:

  1. Stand in front of a weight bench with your feet hip-width apart and strong posture
  2. Place your right foot on the bench behind you, making sure your feet are still hip-width distance apart and find a good balance 
  3. Bend your left knee while your right knee and ankle bend naturally in the movement 
  4. Press back to standing by pushing the weight through your left foot (on the ground). Engage your quad and glutes to stand back up  
  5. Switch to placing your left foot on the bench, right foot on the ground, and complete the split squat 
  6. Repeat as desired 

Why:

Want to have burning quads? Try the split squat! 

This hip flexor exercise can help take lower body strength training up several notches, and here’s why. The same muscles that are worked in squats and lunges are used here. 

The balance that split squats require for each leg is the challenge — isolating any muscle group to one side is the best way to even out muscle imbalances that occur with strength training.

When:

You will need either a workout bench or some kind of sturdy chair to complete this move, so make sure you have those in your home gym, or this move will have to be saved for the gym. 

Try to incorporate split squats into any leg day workout for a quad burner!

 

6. Glute Bridges

Best Hip Flexor Exercises - Glute Bridges

Great for:

Improving hip mobility, strengthening the lower back, and burning out the glutes and hamstrings.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on the floor on your back, with your knees bent at 90 degrees 
  2. Engage your core, push up through your heels, and drive your hips and lower back up off the floor until your knees, hips, and shoulders make a straight line
  3. Squeeze the glutes and hamstrings while keeping the abs drawn in 
  4. Hold for a few seconds while squeezing, then lower to the floor 
  5. Repeat as desired  

Why:

Strengthening your glutes means improving your hip flexibility and range of motion, so don’t sleep on glute bridges! 

This move may seem low-maintenance, but you’ll feel the burn every time you squeeze those glutes.

Strong glutes and hip flexors mean less risk of strain or injury, reducing any lower back pain and improving posture. 

When:

Aim to complete sets of ten reps, three times a week, as you grow familiar with the movement. It can take time, but you will feel those glutes burn really quickly!

 

5. Banded Psoas March

Best Hip Flexor Exercises - Banded Psoas March

Great for:

Working against resistance to strengthen the hip flexors, abdominal muscles, and glutes.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart 
  2. Loop a resistance band around the balls of your feet
  3. Flex your core and bring your left knee out in front of you, stopping when it reaches the hips
  4. As your left knee comes up, raise your right arm 
  5. Slowly lower your left leg and complete on the right side
  6. Repeat as desired

Why:

The key to healthy, flexible hip flexors lies in the banded psoas march. Here’s why. 

You’re able to wake up the hip flexors with a simple piece of exercise equipment while preparing your lower body for a workout. 

If you experience any pain or tightness in your hips, your flexors are likely strained and in need of strengthening. The banded psoas march can relieve tight hip flexors and reduce lower back pain.

When:

Targeting the hip flexors in a warm-up is a smart way to begin doing this movement. You can strengthen the hips and abdominals while waking up the muscle groups there. 

Focus on the movement itself before adding any modifications or variations. Try to complete 8 reps per set as you alternate sides.

 

4. Lunges

Best Hip Flexor Exercises - Lunges

Great for:

One of the best hip flexor exercises for dynamically stretching the hip flexor muscles and resisting the downward motion of lunging.

How to do it:

  1. From a standing position, step one leg backward and bend both knees to 90-degrees
  2. The shin on your front leg should be vertical, and your knee should not pass your toes when bent 
  3. Pause at 90 degrees, and then drive the weight in your front heel forward to bring the back leg to the starting position
  4.  Switch legs, and repeat as desired

Why:

Lunges go a long way to condition the hip flexors.

In this movement, tight hip flexors are used in an eccentric contraction, so the slower you move into a lunge, the better stretch you’ll give those tight hips.

The downward motion of the lunge forces your hip flexors to resist, providing a great stretch in the process.

When:

Lunges prepare your legs and hips for virtually any movement in a strength training workout, so be sure to check that hip flexor stretch off your To-Do list before jumping into leg day.

 

3. Pigeon Pose

Best Hip Flexor Exercises - Pigeon Pose

Great for:

Loosening up the hip flexor muscles, outer hips, and glutes while releasing tension in the lower back.

How to do it:

  1. Begin on all fours. Lay your left shin on the floor while stretching your right leg out behind you 
  2. Lay the top of your right ankle on the floor behind you
  3. Extend your spine and let your hands rest on the floor
  4. Alternate sides and then repeat as desired

Why:

The pigeon pose is a great yoga movement that stretches the hips and lower back.

The more we sit in a sedentary position, the tighter our hip flexors can get. Pigeon pose can relieve any lower back or hip pain you may experience from sitting for too long.

When:

Pigeon pose is a low-impact stretch that can be completed daily if you feel like it’s necessary. 

Focus on your breathing while you’re in pigeon pose, and give those tight hips the stretch they deserve.

 

2. Floor Sliding Mountain Climbers

Best Hip Flexor Exercises - Floor Sliding Mountain Climbers

Great for:

Building cardio endurance, stabilizing the core, and strengthening the lower body while requiring hip flexion. 

How to do it:

  1. Assume a plank position. If you’re on hardwood, use towels; if you’re on carpet, use paper plates. Place either one under both feet
  2. Mimic the motion of running by pulling one knee toward your chest as you drag your foot on the slider 
  3. As you push one knee back, pull the other knee forward
  4. Continue climbing in place for 30 seconds to 1 minute
  5. Rest and repeat as desired

Why:

This hip flexor exercise doubles as a full-body workout — you’re getting cardio, building endurance, activating the core, and strengthening the hips flexors.

Mountain climbers also get your heart rate up, burn out the upper body muscles, and force the core to stay engaged. 

When:

Mountain climbers can be a great warm-up move for any workout. From cardio to any strength training exercise, mountain climbers wake up many important muscle groups in the body. 

Try completing this move for 30 seconds, then ramp up to 1 minute at a time. Your abdominals and arms will likely be screaming in protest, which means it’s working!

 

1. Straight Leg Raises

Best Hip Flexor Exercises - Straight Leg Raises

Great for:

Targeting the hip flexors for a gentle, controlled stretch while engaging the core muscles and preventing injury or strain.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back on the floor with your legs straight out 
  2. Bend the right knee at 90 degrees and anchor your foot to the floor
  3. Lift the left leg to a 45-degree angle (keeping the leg straight)
  4. Hold for five seconds
  5. Lower your left leg back down 
  6. Repeat as desired, then switch to the right leg and perform the save movement

Why:

Straight leg raises allow you to control the stretch of your hip flexors, depending on soreness or previous strain. 

Contracting the muscles in your upper thighs will create time under tension as you slowly lift and lower each leg.

When:

Any time you feel tightness in your hips, straight leg raises should be one of the first stretches you do to alleviate it. 

This move can be done at home or in the gym and requires your focus on controlling the raising and lowering of each leg.

 

FAQs About Hip Flexor Exercises

Check out our answers to some frequently asked questions about hip flexor exercises, and get ready to loosen up those tight hips!

 

Q: What are hip flexor exercises good for?

The main benefit of completing hip flexor exercises is to prevent strain or injury in this area of your body. 

The hips need to remain flexible and mobile to support the entire body with simple tasks like walking, running, bending, and swiveling the hips.

If your hips are tight or strained, these movements can cause the muscles to stretch or tear.

 

Q: Why are hip flexor exercises important?

Strengthening the hip flexors is important because it can improve posture, core stability, and strength and reduce the risk of injury or strain on the hips, back, and upper body.

 

Q: How often should you train hip flexors?

To build and maintain strong and flexible hip flexors, we recommend training them three times a week to begin with. 

If your hip flexors feel particularly weak and tight, try to complete a few strength training exercises daily.

 

Q: How long does it take to loosen hip flexors?

Depending on how tight they are, your hip flexors may take several rounds of stretching to loosen up. 

Mobility of the hips is essential for most everyday movements, so it’s not much of a surprise if you feel that tightness just going about your daily tasks.

 

Q: Does walking help loosen tight hip flexors?

Walking is the most natural way to loosen up your hip flexors. 

However, if your hip flexors are extremely tight, walking isn’t usually enough to loosen them up enough to feel relief from the discomfort.

Walking paired with a few stretching and strengthening exercises will help alleviate any hip pain you’re experiencing from tight hip flexors.

 

Summary 

Stretching and strengthening the hips will keep you pain-free and (hopefully) injury-free as well. 

When done regularly, these exercises will keep your hip flexors flexible and supported. In doing so, you’re taking care of your entire lower body… and you won’t regret it!  

Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best hip flexor exercises:

  1. Straight Leg Raises
  2. Floor Sliding Mountain Climbers
  3. Pigeon Pose
  4. Lunges
  5. Banded Psoas March
  6. Glute Bridges
  7. Bulgarian Split Squats
  8. Hanging Leg Raises  
  9. Kettlebell Swings
  10. Skater Squats

What’s your favorite hip flexor exercise? Leave a comment below. 

Hanna has been a fitness fanatic for most of her life. She grew up on the soccer field and volleyball court and credits those sports with her determination, passion for fitness, and leadership off the field. She is currently studying to become a personal trainer and hopes to begin coaching in 2022.

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