I’m a runner, so I cannot stress the importance of hip and glute strength enough. This goes for participants of all types of exercise though– especially strength training.
Women are especially prone to using their quads too much for support, and neglecting the muscles in the entire back side of their legs. This can cause serious muscle imbalance problems that stem from an inability to control the distribution of power in the legs due to a lack of strong enough stabilizer muscles (hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, etc). So next time you’re doing squats, take a look at your knees. Are they turned inwards? The same goes for box jumps.
When you’re running, try to stand up taller and drive with your butt, rather than your quads. The ability to keep those knees facing outwards and parallel with your hips is crucial for all kinds of injury prevention across the board– from protecting your hips, butt, hamstrings, and to even lower back.
Wondering how to build up this strength? Here are some exercises to get those “buns of steel” – as I friend of mine termed it – going. It will burn; but focusing on this far-too-often neglected part of the body is key to developing better speed, increasing performance, injury prevention, boosting power, and even gaining strength. You’d be amazed at how much power drives from the hips when you use them correctly.
1. Side leg raises. Lay on your side. Lift one leg up and down. 20x. Then bring it in like a jackknife into your chest. 20x. Next, raise that outside leg off the ground and do a butt-kick like move. 20x. Combine all three moves. 20x. Switch sides.
2. Use resistance bands! Putting them above your knees and/or ankles will do magic wonders. Squats, plié squats, squat jumps, side shuffles, bridges (with one leg up!), jack squats, … the list goes on – adding those bands and forcing yourself to keep your knees out (do not let them go in!) will strengthen your glutes!
3. Side steps. The other classic band move is just doing forwards, sideways, and backwards steps in and out, one leg at a time, while in a squat position. Experiment.
There are loads more, but these three basic hip workouts will get you started with the burn, and there are tons more you can add later.
Please, for the sake of all women, quads, knees, hips, backs, and PRs: give your hips and glutes some love.