What Are Hip Extensions?
Hip extensions are the simple movement of opening up your hips. You extend your hips during any movement that increases the angle between your thigh and the front of your pelvis. While this may be an easy enough movement for you if you regularly keep your hips flexible, but without regular training, the action can be stiff and, in old age, particularly difficult.
Your hips technically extend when you go from a seated to a standing position.
Despite the muscles required to perform these seemingly simple movements being some of the largest in your whole body, they require regular exercise to keep them strong. Good ways to see these powerful muscles diminish include sitting too much, which tightens your hip flexor muscles and weakens your hamstrings. You can also neglect these muscles by not regularly performing a full hip extension. For example, cycling is a great exercise for building your muscles, but you do not perform a full hip extension when spinning.
Of course, you can regularly stretch your muscles to maintain flexibility, but this is not enough. Strengthening exercises are a must.
Hip extensions are used to stabilize your pelvis when walking and standing, along with climbing stairs and pedalling.
In their simplest form, you can perform hip extensions as part of a morning routine by lying on your side on a solid surface and, with both legs extended, raise one in a slow scissor-like movement. Yoga pros and those who are extremely nimble can perform this by bringing their leg up to more extreme angles, but to get the most out of this exercise, it is actually a shorter range of motion that places the greatest tension on your targeted muscles.
What Muscles Do You Use Doing Hip Extensions?
Your gluteus medius and adductor magnus muscles play the biggest role in hip extensions. Hip extensions are particularly beneficial in terms of strength and movement because they exercise some of the strongest muscles, including the extensors in your hips and your all-powerful, but sometimes neglected glutes.
It is, in fact, the deeper layer of your glutes that is worked by hip extensions. The long head hamstrings biceps femoris, semimembranosus, semitendinosus are also primary muscles in hip extension.
Benefits Of Hip Extension Exercises For Glute Training
Okay, so popular exercises such as squats and leg presses will develop, tone and strengthen your glutes, along with running and stepping machines, so to call your glutes neglected in your routine may seem like an overstatement, but in fact this is a large muscle group that requires more than a simple squat to keep in shape.
While hip extensions are definitely useful for improving the flexibility and strength of the aforementioned extensors, they are considered a go-to exercise for training your glutes. The gluteus maximus is a primary muscle in hip extensions.
Best Hip Extension Exercises
Standing Hip Extension
This single joint exercise requires only your hips while working the hamstrings, lower back and glutes.
Begin in a standing position with one leg slightly further forward than the other. Leaning slightly forward, and holding onto something for stability if required, push your back leg out (backwards), feeling the tension in your butt and hamstring.
You can also perform these, in the same way, raising your leg sidewards and up.
Quadruped Hip Extension
This essentially works the same muscles as the standing hip extension but brings your core into the mix a little more.
Begin by getting on all fours in a table position with a slight arch in your back and your knees bent and on the ground at right angles. Raise one leg but keep it at a right angle, raising it in a slow arching movement as far as it will go before bringing it slowly back down to your starting position before doing the same on the opposite leg.
You will feel this exercise more in your lower back the standing hip extension.
Pendulum Quadruped Hip Extension
The pendulum quadruped hip extension is a more advanced version of the previous quadruped hip extension, so it is a good idea to first master it in its more basic version.
This exercise is most effective with added weight and resistance and accordingly can achieve greater strength and development of your hamstrings and glutes.
Using a machine or equipment that features a pendulum resistance lever (for example a leg curl machine, begin on all fours as you would for a quadruped hip extension. This time, however, begin with your leg raised (still at a right angle) and touching the lever of the machine. The intention here is to push it out as you would in a leg press while maintaining the pose and actions of a quadruped hip extension.
Because adding weight is an advantage, you might consider increasing the weight and resistance and reducing the reps by performing more sets.
Swiss Ball Hip Extension
Stability, or swiss, balls have a myriad of amazing uses. One of them is for use in strengthening your hips, glutes and lower back.
Begin lying on your back on the floor with a swiss ball by your feet. Keeping your shoulder firmly flat on the mat, place your heels and the back of your calf muscles on the swiss ball. This is primarily a stability exercise, so engage your core and glutes to raise yourself so that you are essentially planking with your shoulders on the ground and heels on the ball.
Lift yourself with a slow, purposeful thrust until you are in the planking position, and then continue to engage your glutes and tighten your hips to lower back to the ground. Then repeat.
Hip Extension Machine
While free weights should always be favoured in place of machines to ensure a free and natural range of movement, there is definitely a place of hip extension machines.
These take care of posture and the movement for you – all you need to do is apply your strength. Easy, right? These machines involve squeezing and extending your hips from a seated or standing position. The major advantage here is that it affords you the opportunity to increase the resistance and the amount of weight that you are lifting in order to develop greater muscle gains and burn more calories in the process.