Hip Strengthening Exercises You Can Do Anytime, Anywhere

Exercise / February 2, 2018

Hip Strengthening Exercises

One year after a hip fracture, about one in three people either end up dependent on family, or in a nursing home.

And hip fractures are also one of the most common fractures there is. In fact, 1.6 million hip fractures occur worldwide every year!

However, hip fractures— like all fractures— are avoidable. And one of the best things you can do to protect yourself is hip-strengthening exercises.

The following three hip strengthening exercises are designed to improve your hip strength and the muscles surrounding them. And while these are low-impact exercises done on a mat, they are effective for everyone at any fitness level.


The Benefits of Hip Strengthening Exercises

Reduces Risk of Falls and Fracture

Aging is accompanied by loss of muscle mass, bone loss and an increased risk of falls that lead to fractures. In fact, hip fractures are the most common fracture among seniors, with nearly 75% of all hip fractures occurring in women.

There is substantial evidence that exercise and training intervention can enhance balance, muscle strength and prevent falls in older people. Hip strengthening exercises (like the ones we show below) that focus on the gluteus medius muscles play a significant role in the way we walk, run and balance. So if you improve balance, you reduce your risk of falls and thus, fracture.

Increase Hip Mobility and Maintain Proper Gait

Don’t discount the importance of range of motion and mobility! While stamina and speed tend to be highlighted when it comes to athletics, the ability to move your joints and limbs through their full range of motion is critical.

Your hips and shoulders are known as ‘mobility gatekeepers’. As they provide all three planes of movement and connect your torso to your outer extremities. So without them, successful movement would not be possible.

When it comes to your hips, if you have limited mobility, you start to compensate other muscles in the lower back and knees, which can cause, inefficiencies, pain and muscle imbalances.

As a result, the way you walk, also known your gait, can become compromised. Reduced hip muscle strength can lead to altered gait pattern characteristics. When these muscles become weak, walking can become impaired, as well as other daily life activities. That’s why the following hip strengthening exercises will not only increase hip mobility but ensure the muscles remain strong for daily life!

Improve Back Health

Do you suffer from low back pain? You’re not alone. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans experience low back pain at any given time. And it’s the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010.

The ability to activate the muscles in your hip plays a crucial role in lumbar (back) stabilization. Leading researchers have stated that when applying an exercise program for the treatment of low back pain, strengthening the hip muscles is important. Research shows that adding hip strengthening exercises (like the ones we cover below) for chronic low back pain patients is helpful for rehabilitation and quality of life!


3 Exercises That Strengthen Your Hips

The following hip strengthening exercises can be done in the comfort of your own home or on the road if you’re traveling. Other than a recommended yoga mat or soft surface to lie on, no further exercise equipment is needed.

Side Leg Raise

The side-lying hip-abduction exercise or simply, side leg raise, is one of the best exercises for activating your gluteus medius! The gluteus medius is located on your upper buttock and is crucial for running, walking and single leg weight-bearing. In fact, it’s the main muscle involved in stabilizing your hips!

Weak glutes are associated with lower-limb musculoskeletal disorders, or in layman’s terms, conditions that affect your bones, joints, and muscles. For example, if the muscles start to weaken, your hips can begin to drop unnaturally and your pelvis inevitably compensates and internally rotates. You can physically identify this compensation when you start noticing your knees collapse inwards (aka knock-knees) during a movement like the squat. This can create problems for your knees, lower back and your iliotibial (IT) band.

Directions:

  1. On a mat, lie on your side with your legs straight and stacked on top of each other. Rest your head on your bottom arm or support your head like I am in the GIF below.
  2. Use your other hand to stabilize yourself by placing it on the floor in front of you.
  3. Activate your abdominals by pulling your belly in and engage your gluteal muscles.
  4. Then, lift your top leg straight up keeping your hips steady. Do not rotate forward or backward.
  5. Gently lower your leg back down, maintaining control the whole way.
  6. Complete 15-20 times on each side for two sets.

Advanced: Once you have mastered the side leg raise, you can use a resistance band to challenge yourself. Place a resistance band just above both ankles. The movement of this exercise will be the same as the side leg raise, but now you will have some tension from the resistance band.

The Clamshell

Remember Suzanne Somers touting the “Thighmaster” in the early-mid 90s? You may see similarities in this clamshell exercise.

The clamshell is one of the most commonly prescribed exercises for those with knee pain as it targets the gluteus medius and hip abductor muscles. In fact, when these muscles are weak, knee pain is often experienced, especially in women. After a few reps of this exercise, you should really start to feel how your knees and hips are connected to one another.

Furthermore, one study published by the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy found that the clamshell and the unilateral bridge (an advanced exercise that we will discuss below) are some of the best exercises to strengthen hips for injury prevention and treatment.

Directions:

  1. Lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of each other, with your legs bent at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Rest your head on your lower arm or prop it up as I have done in the GIF below.
  3. Ensure that your hips are also stacked on top of each other. You don’t want your hips to rock backward.
  4. Engage your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button in (think of it as pulling it towards your back).
  5. Then, raise your upper knee as high as you can while your heels are still touching. Do not shift your hips or pelvis or move your bottom leg off of the floor.
  6. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then slowly bring your top leg back down to its starting position.
  7. Complete 15-20 times on each side for two sets.

Advanced: There are many different variations of the clamshell. The one above requires no equipment and is the most basic form. Once you have mastered this exercise, you can challenge yourself with more repetitions or try using a resistance band. Place the resistance band around both of your legs, just above your knees. And continue the exercise as instructed above.

Glute Bridge

The glute bridge, also known as the glute raise, is one of my favorite exercises as it activates all three of your gluteal muscles: the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. Did you know the gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body? Strengthening the muscles of your gluteus has also been shown to relieve chronic low back pain. In addition, the glute bridge strengthens your lower abdominal muscles, hamstrings and lower back. For those who have difficulty with squats — whether from knee, hip or back pain — the glute bridge is a great alternative as it does not place any pressure on your joints, while still working these muscles!

Directions:

  1. Lay down on a mat with your feet on the ground, arms by your side and your knees bent. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart. You can change how far your feet are from your buttocks. The closer in will engage more glute, the farther out will engage more hamstring.
  2. Engage your glutes and abdominals and lift straight up through your heels and upper back as high as possible. Keep your core engaged to help keep your back strong..
  3. Hold and squeeze your glutes for 2-3 seconds at the top.
  4. Then release back down slowly to your starting position.
  5. Repeat 10-15 times.

Advanced: Once you have mastered the basic glute bridge, you can try the Unilateral (Single Leg) Bridge. Remember the study above? It talked about the unilateral bridge being one of the best exercises to strengthen hips. It’s also a safe and convenient exercise to help increase hip joint stability.

To do the unilateral bridge, follow the same directions as you would for the basic glute bridge. But when you lift, you are only raising one leg up off the ground. You can lift that leg straight up towards the ceiling, or keep it bent at a 90-degree angle.

This exercise also produces a higher level of activation on your hamstring versus the regular glute bridge. So that may mean you have to do fewer repetitions until you increase hamstring strength and endurance!

These three hip strengthening exercises are great to do as a full lower body workout. Try doing them every other day so you give your muscles some time to recover.

Interested in strengthening your core, too? Check out our planking exercises for stability and bone strength.

Please let me know if there are any other exercises you are interested in by commenting below!

Disclaimer:  If you have low bone density, osteoporosis or other health concerns, you may need to avoid or adjust exercises accordingly. If you are unsure, please check with a physician or doctor before attempting this or any exercise.

Comments
Patty
Patty

I’ve been taught that exercises where your feet are on the floor are best for building bone density in the hips. Clamshell and Side leg lifts don’t have feet on the floor.

Monica AlgaeCal
Monica AlgaeCal

Hi Patty,

Thanks for taking the time to comment. You’re right! Weight-bearing exercise is one of the best exercises to build strong, healthy bones as you’re literally bearing your own weight and positively stressing your bones. This sends signals to your bone-building cells to work and for your bones to become strong! This post is discussing hip-strengthening exercises, and not weight-bearing exercise specifically. The focus is on reducing fall risk, increasing hip mobility and gait, and improving back health (which is discussed in the “Benefits” section at the top of the post)

If you’re looking for weight-bearing exercises, you can check out the other posts in our exercise category on the blog: https://www.algaecal.com/expert-insights/category/exercise/
Or our comprehensive exercise page that discusses weight-bearing exercise further too https://www.algaecal.com/osteoporosis-treatment/exercises/

Hope that helps 🙂

Monica Sukowski
Monica Sukowski

Hi Monica, Can you include exercise to strengthen feet, especially for older folks who like to hike…Thanks so much !

Jenna AlgaeCal
Jenna AlgaeCal

Hi Monica,

We’ll definitely look at creating a post for foot strengthening exercises in the future! For now, there are some excellent videos on YouTube like this one by Yoga with Adriene (Monica and I love her videos so we hope you’ll like this one!)

– Jenna @ AlgaeCal

Meg
Meg

Do you have more knee exercises? I have arthritis under my knee caps.

Jenna AlgaeCal
Jenna AlgaeCal

Hi Meg,

At this time, we don’t have any other knee exercises on our blog. However, there are some fantastic Youtube videos with exercises specifically targeted to arthritis in the knees! Here’s one example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syBi8gw4dsA.

We will definitely continue to expand the exercise section of our blog so keep an eye out for more 🙂

– Jenna @ AlgaeCal

Patricia Graham
Patricia Graham

Are any of your recommended exercises on DVD’s that one can purchase? I find being able to see the exercises on my DVD player rather than on my PC is so helpful!

Jenna AlgaeCal
Jenna AlgaeCal

Hi Patricia,

Great question. We do not currently have DVD versions of our bone-strengthening exercises – although this is a wonderful idea that we will certainly pass along!

You may be able to find DVD’s with bone strengthening exercises on websites such as Amazon or eBay. We would suggest searching for yoga, pilates, or barre videos tailored to those with bone loss. Be sure to listen to your body & if you are ever unsure, please check with a physician or doctor before attempting any exercise.

We hope this is helpful! Let us know if you have any other questions!

– Jenna @ AlgaeCal

Eileen Leathers
Eileen Leathers

Monica, Is there a short video for the clamshell exercise? When the email came from Dean recommending these 3 exercises to strengthen my hips there were quick visuals, but I don’t see them anymore when I bring up the site.
Thanks,
Eileen

Monica AlgaeCal
Monica AlgaeCal

Hi Eileen,
Sorry for the inconvenience! The post above should have all the exercises in video format now.
– Monica

eileen Leathers
eileen Leathers

Thanks Monica, I can see them all now. Have a great day.

Linda Kapala
Linda Kapala

I can’t take the AlgaeCal Plus as I am on Warfarin and the K2 interferes. I do take AlgaeCal and Strontium. Do you have any studies on this combination? My doctor wants me to take Proleia and it has awful side effects. Makes me wonder how they could sell it. I did take it for one 6 month period but had some of the side effects. I’ve talked to my doctor and he still wants me to continue. At this point he said it is my decision.

eileen leathers
eileen leathers

Hi Linda,
I’m 64 and was diagnosed with osteoporosis in the fall of 2017. I have been on the AlgaeCal and Strontium ever since with no side effects. Insurance wise I’m not covered for another dexa scan for 2 years. My doctor recommended Fosomax, but after researching it told her no thank you because of scary side effects. Trust your gut. I’m conscious of my movements and am doing exercises along with diet to strengthen my hips. Good luck and good health to you.

Monica AlgaeCal
Monica AlgaeCal

Hi Linda,

AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost have been researched in three separate human clinical studies. The latest, a 7-year long study showing average linear increases in bone mineral density by 1% each year with no side effects or safety issues! In addition, AlgaeCal was included in Bone Study #2, which showed an increase in bone mineral density as well. To see those, go here: https://www.algaecal.com/research/

Sorry to hear you experienced some side effects with Prolia, Linda. Know that you’re not alone! If you’d like to check out some of the amazing success stories of people who were in similar situations, go here: https://www.algaecal.com/success-stories/ Also, if you’d like to call in and speak to a Bone Health Consultant, they can answer any questions you may have. You can call 1-800-820-0184.

– Monica

susan
susan

hello
1. advanced glute bridge – i can’t picture what you describe – any possibility of a photo ?
2. every other day – ??? why would i exercise only every other day – my muscles don’t feel tired after doing these exercises ???
thanks

Monica AlgaeCal
Monica AlgaeCal

Hi Susan,

Here is a link to a single leg glute bridge: https://goo.gl/images/dXXEuv If you are feeling good and not tired after doing these exercises you can try them daily and move on to the advanced versions that include resistance bands for the first two and single leg for the last one. In addition, you can up the repetitions and sets. Everyone is different so if you need more of a challenge, definitely challenge yourself!

– Monica

Barbara
Barbara

I like those exercises for the hips, but in addition to osteoporosis in my right hip and spine, I also have severe arthritis in both knees which makes it hard to get down or get up from the floor. What would you suggest, so I can still get benefit for my hips?

Kathy Carey
Kathy Carey

once a diagnosis of osteoporosis has been rendered, is this a reversible process? I’ve been told by my PCP it is not and the only goal is to keep it from worsening. I have AlgaeCal on hand to start once I finish another regimen I started. Bisphosphonate therapy is the only therapy my physician says will work for me. The long term side effects are concerning!

Jenna AlgaeCal
Jenna AlgaeCal

Hi Kathy,

It is absolutely possible to reverse your bone loss and get back into a healthy bone density range! In fact, AlgaeCal is the only calcium supplement clinically proven to increase bone density safely & naturally. We have helped thousands of women turn around their bone health with our Bone Building Program (AlgaeCal Plus & Strontium Boost), you can view some of their stories here: https://www.algaecal.com/success-stories/

We agree the side effects of bone medications like bisphosphonates are concerning. While your doctor has your best interest at heart, just as we do, they may not be familiar with proven natural alternatives like AlgaeCal, mainly because there is a focus on pharmaceuticals in medical school. Excitingly, more and more doctors are becoming familiar with AlgaeCal, and we have seen a rise in the number of doctors recommending us to their patients! You can click here for an information sheet to share with your doctor: https://www.algaecal.com/wp-content/uploads/AlgaeCal-Take-It-To-Your-Dr-Form.pdf

So great to hear you will be giving AlgaeCal a try Kathy! Please let us know if you have any questions along your bone health journey. You can always email [email protected] or call 1-800-820-0184, and our Bone Health Consultants will be happy to assist you. Our operating hours are Mon-Fri 6:00am-4:00pm PST, Saturday 8:00am-4:00pm and Sun 8:00am-2:00pm PST.

– Jenna @ AlgaeCal

cmegargee
cmegargee

Jade had bilateral hip replacements. Should I try these?

Jenna AlgaeCal
Jenna AlgaeCal

Hello,

It’s definitely important to exercise to help strengthen your bones and the muscles around them, not to mention the wonderful benefits for your cardiovascular health!

In saying that, it is best to speak with a doctor or physiotherapist to double check which exercises are safe for you to do.

– Jenna @ AlgaeCal

jennifer_duck
jennifer_duck

I was driving 2 hour Up and Back home to do this. Can tell what other thing I can do help me. Yesterday I move stuff family room in my kitchen and today I cant move I hurt in my spine. I hoping this stuff going help with my bone. So I will never take Rclast Or Prolia Reclast is the worst drug on the plant this girl not going take crap.

Monica
Monica

Hi Jennifer,

We do offer additional bone health exercises if you’re interested. Simply search “exercise” in the search bar on the website and you’ll see a wonderful list of them.

Some of the top ones are the following:
– Yoga For Osteoporosis. Click here.
– Planking and Stability Exercises. Click here.
– Posture Exercises. Click here.

However, if you are experiencing pain in your back and spine it’s best to discuss appropriate exercises with your doctor or physical therapist before trying any of these. Also, if you have any questions about AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost or your current bone health regimen, you can always call and speak to one of our Bone Health Specialists at 1-800-820-0184.

– Monica

Ruby Jones
Ruby Jones

Hi Monica,
I broke my back about 3 years ago and my back muscles keep getting worse now I have a curvature of the spine I think I really need some back strengthening exercises?
I really would appreciate them if you have some to share?
Thank You
Ruby

Monica
Monica

Hi Ruby,

We have a few posture and back exercises on the following page in the section “posture exercises”, specifically thoracic extension, foam roller and dart exercises.
https://www.algaecal.com/osteoporosis-exercises/
And an additional posture post here: https://www.algaecal.com/expert-insights/posture-exercises-osteoporosis/

Hope this gives you some exercises to try. Although. it’s best to discuss and get cleared by your doctor before trying any new exercises just to be safe!

– Monica

Monica Vandenhoven
Monica Vandenhoven

I am 76. Here is what I do: yoga/pilates , Tai Chi, weight lifting, aerobics, gentle jogging or gently jumping on spot and meditation. I eat organic food mostly sourced locally and a few months ago I added Alpha-Cal and Strontium.

Monica
Monica

Hi Monica,
Wonderful to hear! Sounds like you are on the right track with all the exercise you are doing, including your diet and AlgaeCal!
– Monica

Rebecca D Fischer
Rebecca D Fischer

I am a swimmer and would love some exercises I can do in the pool. Also can you provide exercises that I can do with a weight bench and weights? I am 56 and diagnosed with Osteopenia and just bought your 6 month supply and cant wait to get started with Algaecal! Thank You! Becca

Monica
Monica

Hi Rebecca,

So wonderful to hear you’re starting AlgaeCal! If you have any further questions during your bone health journey, let us know 🙂

Here are some specific pool exercises you can do: https://www.algaecal.com/expert-insights/aquatic-exercise-osteoporosis/
Here is a great post on osteoporosis exercises, including weight-bearing: https://www.algaecal.com/osteoporosis-exercises/

You can also take a look at the exercise category on our blog for more posts, here: https://www.algaecal.com/expert-insights/category/exercise/
– Monica

Giggles Miller
Giggles Miller

thanks Patty. My PT wants me to do weight bearing exercises for osteoporosis. Can you recommend some. Thanks, Gigi

Patty Clayton
Patty Clayton

Hi Monica, I am trying to obtain some additional information regarding the type of equipment Evi Hoffman stated she has used to help exercise her hips. She mentioned a “rebounder” and an “oscillating platform” in her video that your website posted of her testimony. Is it possible to get more information from her on the brand or type of oscillator she was speaking of?

Monica
Monica

Hi Patty,

I’ll reach out to Evi and see if she can tell us the specific brand. Will get back to you!

– Monica from AlgaeCal

Monica
Monica

Hi Patty,
Heard back from Evi and she said she uses something called osflow, which is the oscillating platform she mentions (http://www.osflowusa.com/) and the rebounder is from cellercise.com.

Hope that helps!

– Monica from AlgaeCal

Julie Jones
Julie Jones

Hi Monica. Thanks so much for these exercises. I would love to see what you may have for strengthening the spine. I only have a couple to work with but if you have any more that would be great. As hard as I try, I can’t seem to get my bone density to stabilize in this area. I have osteoporosis with -3.7 in the lumber area. Thanks so much.

Monica
Monica

Hi Julie,

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and do not get discouraged! Here is a great video that Lara has filmed discussing why you may be seeing results in one area instead of others. Usually, people will see increases in their spine first, so you are an exception, but it doesn’t necessarily mean what you are doing isn’t working. It may just take a bit longer to show up. https://www.algaecal.com/expert-insights/why-am-i-increasing-bone-density-in-one-area/

With your osteoporosis at a -3.7 in the lumbar area I urge you to consult with a physical therapist on exercises and movements that are safe. An exercise that is fantastic for spine strength is known as the ‘superman’ and you can ask if this exercise is appropriate for you:

– Lie face down on an exercise mat with your elbows bent and your forehead resting on your hands. Legs straight, feet down.
– You can use a small cushion or pillow and place it at the level of your hip bones so that you can rest on it comfortably (you will be lying on top of it). This will also reduce pressure on your lower back during the exercise.
– Start by raising one of your legs about a foot off the ground. Your toes should just lift off the ground – you don’t want to raise it too high as it may hyperextend your back.
– Lower your leg back to the ground.
– Alternate legs and repeat 10 times on each leg to complete the set.
– Take a break and complete another 2 sets for a total of 3.

Progression:

– Place your arms out in front of you (can use a towel to rest your forehead on if you like).
– Raise one arm and the opposite leg at the same time so they both just lift off the ground.
– Hold for 2 seconds and then lower both down to the ground.
– Alternate using the other arm and leg and repeat 10 times each to complete the set.
– Take a break and complete another 2 sets for a total of 3.

– Monica from AlgaeCal

Lynde
Lynde

Thanks so much for recommending Physical Therapy to some of your responders here. We have the expertise to help folks perform the appropriate exercises in proper form, which is essential to making progress in strength AND bone density. While watching your young model in the video perform the abduction exercise, I was concerned that someone might actually do the exercise in the form she demonstrates. When one’s audience is aging adults, may I suggest using an aging adult in your demonstration videos? And get a PT on the set to make sure the form is accurate?? Cheers!

Monica AlgaeCal
Monica AlgaeCal

Hi Lynde,

Thanks for the feedback. Lara Pizzorno the author of Your Bones (and our resident Bone Health Expert) and I have partnered up on some upcoming exercises where she will be demonstrating – super exciting! However, I am a certified ACE Certified Personal Trainer and have made sure that these exercises are appropriate for women and men of all ages, particularly aging adults.

– Monica

Eileen Leathers
Eileen Leathers

Monica, I have been reading this book ‘Your Bones’ and it is fantastic! So informative and helpful to the health regiment I’m trying to follow along with taking my AlgaeCal and Strontium. I wasn’t aware that Lara is your resident bone expert, and that the two of you are partnering with exercises for us.
Thank you so much!

Monica AlgaeCal
Monica AlgaeCal

Hi Eileen,
Your Bones by Lara Pizzorno is excellent. Yes, Lara discovered AlgaeCal organically years ago when she was researching and looking for natural ways to reclaim her bone mineral density! You can see her testimonial videos here: https://www.algaecal.com/success-stories/?testimonial=lara-pizzorno-story
Now, we are lucky enough to have her as a Bone Health Expert and collaborate on various projects with AlgaeCal. You can see some of her posts written on the AlgaeCal blog as well https://www.algaecal.com/expert-insights/author/lara-pizzorno-mdiv-ma/

Thank you for taking the time to comment!

– Monica

Haydn Anthony
Haydn Anthony

How about a back muscle strengthening exercise? Upper and lower. Thanks!

Monica
Monica

Hi Haydn,

Thanks for your feedback! That sounds great, I’ll add it to the list 🙂

– Monica from AlgaeCal

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