Today, I’m sharing 9 of my favorite hip and glute strengthening exercises that’ll stabilize your hips joints and help you get relief from pain.
I’ll be including bodyweight exercises, banded exercises, as well as a few more challenging variations using sliders.
Why You Should Strengthen The Glutes
Did you know that the gluteus maximus is the biggest muscle in the human body?
Your glute muscles are one of the biggest muscle stabilizers and movers and are designed to be the strongest muscles in your body. (that should tell you something).
And if you’re experiencing hip pain or pelvic dysfunction, there is a big chance your glutes are out of balance.
The majority of people have extremely weak glutes. We just don’t develop our glutes to their full potential, and that’s because of so a few main reasons:
Our sedentary lifestyle as we spend the majority of our days sitting.
Our general internal limiting beliefs about achieving more strength, not prioritizing exercise, and perhaps feeling intimidated by weights. (Even though glute strength can be achieved without any additional weights!)
This all led to an interesting phenomenon…
… A newly developed condition called ‘dead butt syndrome‘…also referred to as glute amnesia.
If you’ve ever tried to contract your glutes after sitting for a long day, and no matter how hard you tried, you just couldn’t feel it… that my friend is glute amnesia.
And everyone experiences it at some point in life.
Hip Stability vs Hip Mobility
Should you mobilize or stabilize your hips?
First, let’s look at the hip joint. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint and it’s designed for mobility (like the shoulder joint).
The hip joint is surrounded by stabilizers (muscles). Too much mobility can drive the hips out of alignment and balance.
Stable hips rely on balanced muscle stabilizers. That means you want healthy functional muscles (not too tight and not too loose).
Now, it’s important to realize two things when it comes to this:
- The glute muscles tend to get weak with misuse (and under-use).
- The hip flexor muscles tend to get tight and overactive with misuse (and overuse).
So what ends up happening when you’re sitting for hours all day?
Well…extremely tight hip flexors and very weak glutes.
Yet, what do people do when they start getting glute pain? They start stretching the glutes…all the time…leading to more weakness….more pain… And the cycle continues.
Even Yoga practitioners are now realizing the importance of stabilizing the hips through building more strength and not just flexibility and mobility (1).
How To Effectively Stabilize Your Hips
Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. I only mention products I personally use and recommend…and if you purchase from Amazon using my affiliate link, I get a small commission. You won’t pay more!
Now, before I even get to the exercises, we need to first release the hip flexors.
Here’s the thing…tight hip flexors will inhibit the glutes (that’s just what they do when they get overactive), and this will lead to compensation.
We want to first inhibit the hip flexors, Tensor Fascia Latta (which is also a hip flexor), and release tightness so we can ‘unlock’ our hips and let the glutes complete their job properly (and through the full range of motion).
I have a step-by-step tutorial on how to release the PSOAS muscle (the biggest hip flexor mule).
The link will open up in a new tab so you can go back to this post. (Or you can read it later. Just make sure you release the PSOAS first before doing the exercises below. You’ll notice a big difference, I promise.)
- The step-by-step video post on how to release the PSOAS muscle (the biggest hip flexor muscle in your body). The link will open in a new tab!
9 Hip Strengthening Exercises For Hip Pain
I’ve created a step-by-step video tutorial below that’ll take you through each hip strengthening exercise.
If you can’t watch it right now, I also included images of the hip strengthening exercises.
I do recommend you watch the video tutorial when you can to make sure you’re doing everything with proper form.
Here is the resistance loop band that I recommend. I purchased these lately and they’re amazing. I love their quality.
Hip Exercises Breakdown:
The backward lunge is a great exercise that works the glutes and core stability. Make sure you keep your glutes and core tight here.
- Lunge backward.
- Keep your knee above your foot.
- Keep your back straight.
- Repeat on the same side or alternate between each side.
Beginner modification: You can also do static backward lunges by keeping your foot stable on the ground, as you go up and down.
Sliding Backward Lunges
Ready to take the lunge to the next level? Try the sliding backward lunges.
This is a great low-impact exercise that really challenges your core too. Make sure you’re not compensating by rounding your back. Also, these are the sliders I use.
Hip Hinge To Leg Lift
The hip hinge is not quite a squat. Make sure you’re pushing your glutes back vs down…you don’t have to go very low in this exercise. (you can add a band to this exercise.)
When you’re performing the bridge exercise, always use a band. You can pick a low resistance rubber band as demonstrated. But, I recently switched to using fabric bands. They don’t roll and make a huge difference in activating the glutes
- Brace your core and keep your abdominals tight.
- Engage your glutes (before raising your hips).
- Push through your heelps to elevate your hips up.
- Keep breathing.
- Squeeze your glutes at the top. S
- Slowly brinkg your hips down.
Does the bridge exercise trigger pain? check out this step-by-step bridge tutorial here that’ll show you how to do the bridge properly.
One-Legged Glute Bridge
[Advanced] This exercise is challenging. You need to keep your core engaged and glutes tight as you push through your heel.
The moment you release your muscles, your lower back will kick in. And you don’t want to transfer the load to your lumbar spine.
If that happens, don’t worry, just take a break and breathe deeply while you rest.
Whenever you feel ready, you can try another set. If this feels too challenging, just stick to the bridge exercise for a little while.
Glute Bridge To Band Pull-outs
[Intermediate] This is an excellent hip stabilization exercise.
- Start with the bridge exercise.
- Hold your hips up and maintain glute engagement.
- Pull the band as you move your knees out.
Banded Side Leg Raises
[Intermediate] You can do this exercise using just your bodyweight but I like to add the band to ensure proper glute medius engagement.
Pro tip: adding the band will force you to not lift your leg too high up where you may start bending to the side and engaging the QL muscle instead.
Keep this exercise small. Make sure you’re not rotating your hips forward or backward and not flexing to the side.
- Click here for 4 additional gluteus medius activation exercises.
[Intermediate] I have a love-hate relationship with this exercise. I don’t recommend it if you’re going through a flare-up, or have piriformis pain.
The main reason is…most people do this exercise wrong and end up with more pain after.
This exercise is meant to activate the gluteus medius. Make sure you’re maintaining a neutral posture and not rocking back and forth to open up your hips more.
Gluteus Maximus Contractions
This is an excellent exercise to activate your glute max and truly connect with this muscle.
Again, this is not a big exercise (small contractions). Our aim is to activate the muscle through the recruitment of motor units.
I hope you find these exercises helpful. If you find that you’re constantly getting glute pain, I highly recommend one of my programs to help you fix the pain triggers and learn how to avoid recurring injuries.
Feeling overwhelmed about how to fix piriformis syndrome? Here’s a simple home recovery program that’ll teach you all the techniques I used to fix this frustrating chronic condition and remain pain-free for over 4 years.
- 3 Effective Tensor Fascia Latae Stretches (Release Hip Tightness) - February 19, 2021
- How To Sleep With Piriformis Syndrome And Sciatica (Best Sleeping Positions!) - January 22, 2021
- 7 Effective Core Exercises For Back Pain Relief (PDF Included!) - December 18, 2020