When it comes to sports, and physical activities, the ability to drive your hips forward in a powerful manner is critical for generating explosive power. This helps in things like jumping, broad jumps, and sprinting. Hip extension is also important in certain lifts such as hang cleans, snatches, and other Olympic lifts.
What is Hip Extension
Hip extension is simply the movement of driving your hips forward. This is not only important for posture but also for generating power through the hips.
Hip extension is the ability to get out of the position of sitting back with your hips lowered. Hip extension propels the hips forward and this is important for simple things such as getting out of a seat, up to creating momentum for jumping and athletics. Walking, running, and jumping are all impacted by hip extension.
Hip Extension Exercises
Lying Hip Extensions
- Start by laying on your back with your head flat on the ground
- Have your knees bent with your feet flat on the floor
- Lay your arms to your side with your palms flat on the ground
- Contract your abs and drive your hips upward. Pause at the top and squeeze your glutes, then lower back under control
- Make sure your glutes don’t touch the ground on the way back down to keep the hips and glutes activated.
Single-Leg Hip Extensions
Similar to the lying hip extensions, except this time there is more isolation for each leg and the hips. These will be more challenging and might take some time to build up to.
- Lie on the ground with your back flat and head flat on the ground
- Knees bent, feet flat on the ground, and arms lying at your side with palms flat on the ground
- Keep one foot planted on the ground and extend the opposite leg straight up and out at a 45-degree angle
- Keep your abs tight and drive upward pushing through your heel and using your glutes to propel you up
- Pause at the top, squeezing your glutes then lower back under control stopping just before your glutes touch the ground
- Perform your determined amount of reps for the one leg, before switching over to the other to complete one set
Elevated Hip Extension
You will need a flat bench for this exercise. This exercise requires a bit more strength and coordination to perform effectively.
- Rest your upper back on the bench positioning yourself just below your shoulder blades
- Keep your arms and elbows flat against the top of the bench
- Feet flat on the ground spaced shoulder-width apart
- Drive your hips upward using your both them and your glutes to generate the power
- Pause at the top, squeezing your glutes and lower back down under control stopping before your glutes touch the ground.
Make sure to keep your core engaged through this motion as there can be the tendency to relax them on the lower phase which might strain the lower back.
This movement works the quads and glutes, but when done properly, it will target the hip extensors. Squats are naturally a hip extension exercise and you will need a dumbbell or kettlebell.
- Grasp the dumbbell or kettlebell at the top of your chest with your head up and feet shoulder-width apart
- Inhale and lower down under control to at least parallel
- Exhale and drive upwards – but not too fast – pushing through your heels
- At the top of the movement, squeeze your glutes pushing your hips forward
- Pause at the top and then repeat the movement for the set amount of reps
A simple, but challenging hip extension exercise. You will need a Glute resistance band that you can get around your legs. You want to picture that you’re opening up your hips as you perform this exercise
- Pull the resistance band over your legs so it is just above the knees
- Start by lying on your side on a mat on the ground
- Your knees will be laying on the ground but facing away from your body
- Lift the top knee upward against the resistance of the band. Pause at the top and lower back down under control to the starting position
- Go through your set amount of repetition before flipping to the other side to do the opposite leg.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
The deadlift incorporates the hamstrings and hips into one movement, but the single-leg aspect helps to isolate the hips to create a better strengthening exercise. You can do this without dumbbells, or add in some for more resistance.
- Start standing up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Keep your left foot on the ground and lean forward extending your right leg behind you. Your upper body and right leg should all be parallel to the ground
- Bend your left knee a little to take the pressure of the knee and to isolate the hips and hamstrings
- Stand back up to the starting position before repeating with the opposite leg to make up one complete rep.
If you’re using dumbbells you want to keep them straight and hanging at your sides. Imagine that you are leaning forward to place two suitcases on the ground, then picking them both up as you return to the starting position.
What Muscles Do Hip Extensions Target?
- Hip extensors
- Gluteus maximus
- The abductor Magnus
Benefits Of Hip Extension Exercises
The stronger your hips are, the more power you can generate in explosive movements. These movements involve running, jumping, and Olympic lifts. Your hips really are key to the power that your body creates, and when your hips are weak, all other areas can suffer.
If you’re a basketball player and have weak hips, it diminishes your ability to jump which has a negative impact on how you can compete. When you have strong hips you will get more out of lifts such as snatches and cleans and this leads to improved overall body strength.
Hip extension exercises also make day-to-day activities more bearable such as walking, climbing stairs, and sitting, and standing. Strong hips can also take the pressure off of the lower back and knees.
Hip Extensor Stretches
One of the best hip extensor stretches is a simple mobility stretch. You will need a mat or rolled-up towel to make it more comfortable for your knees.
Get down on one knee with the other leg in front of you with your foot flat on the ground. This will help isolate the hip joint. Tilt your pelvis back and squeeze your glutes, then push your hip forward and hold for about a second.
You shouldn’t be able to push very far forward because of the stance you are in but this gives a good hip extensor stretch. You can do about 30 reps per side and you should feel the stretch on the front of your hips.
Personal Trainer Tips and Advice
The most important thing is to not rush these exercises when it comes to tempo. The focus needs to be on the hip isolation, glute, and core contraction and feeling the muscles that you are working.
The movements need to be slow and controlled. Contracting your core will help to keep your body stable and isolate the hips as best as possible.
These are both movements that happen in the same plane. Flexion is the extension of a joint and in this case, would just be extending your leg upward and in front of you like you were going to do a forward karate kick. With flexion of the hip, you are decreasing the angle of the muscles that cross the hip.
If hip flexion is what brought your thigh up in front of you, hip extension is the opposite of the movement and bringing the leg back down. It’s essentially just the shortening and extending of the muscles of the hip.
One of the best drills to improve hip extensions is a knees-up drill. You would stand against a wall or something for support and run on the spot but driving each knee upward as quickly as you can. You want to bring the feet up toward the body with each drive of the knee and lean forward a bit to really engage the hips properly. This is a great way to improve hip extension without the impact of the knees on the ground from constant running.
Prone hip extension is when you would be in a lying position face down on a mat or table. You would lift one leg upward behind you holding it at the top for a few seconds making sure to engage the glutes. You then lower the leg and repeat with the opposite leg. Three sets of 10 is a good target to aim for as prone hip extensions is a great way to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings too.