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Hip Mobility Exercises | Tips to Optimize Your Leg Days
Hip mobility exercises will help you in several ways.
I’m talking better squats, better movement, more muscle, and optimal leg days.
A lot of people only perform very light stretching before they work out.
On leg days, stretching can be the difference between a good workout and a bad one.
Typically, leg days are hindered by a couple things: bad form and terrible hip mobility.
One way to help with the bad form is by using our Dark Iron Fitness genuine leather weightlifting belt.
And, in this article, we will talk about working on the other problem — bad hip mobility.
Some of you may be reading this and think you don’t suffer from either of these problems, but I assure you, you may.
If you’ve plateaued in your squats, leg press, lunges, etc. then these issues could be the culprit.
Acknowledging this will only lead to better workouts in the future.
But, if you truly believe you aren’t suffering from these problems, then why not read on to simply optimize your already great mobility?
What do you lose?
Now, let’s first discuss why hip mobility is important and what it can affect.
Related: Why Do Squats Hurt My Lower Back?
Hip Mobility Exercises — Why is Mobility Important?
The Benefits of Having Proper Hip Mobility
If you have proper, healthy hip mobility, you’ll be able to do much more during your workouts.
This is especially true for leg day (obviously!).
Some of these benefits include a greater range of motion (ROM) and the ability to hit depth, as well as hold depth.
What does that mean, exactly?
Well, for exercises like squats, you’ll want to go parallel to the ground and be able to hold the squat.
You shouldn’t drop down and then use your momentum to bounce back up, you should use your strength to get up.
With better hip mobility, you’ll be able to squat ass-to-grass and easily push yourself (and the weight) back to your starting position.
Furthermore, exercises like running, jumping, lunging, and more sports–oriented workouts will benefit from healthy hip mobility.
Think of your hip mobility like the axle to your wheels, you need to keep them well lubricated and fully-functioning.
Related: Correct Posture for Squats
How Bad Hip Mobility Can Ruin Everything
On the other hand (or hip), having bad hip mobility can ruin a whole lot.
Your leg days, your overall workouts, your strength, and health, as well as your longevity as a properly walking citizen.
Think about it, ♪ your hip bone’s connected to your… leg bone, your leg bone’s connected to your…♪ just kidding.
But, really, your hips are the core mechanism of your movement.
There’s nothing dumber than relying on your legs to harness your mobility when your hips generate a ton of your power.
Don’t become a victim to weak hips that make you buckle from lifting weight, or from old age!
You ever wonder why so many older people injury, break or dislocate their hips?
It all makes sense, doesn’t it?
Keep your hips strong, keep your mobility good, and use those features to help you in the gym.
Who Should Be Doing Hip Mobility Exercises?
The Case for Beginners Doing Hip Mobility Exercises
Well, with almost everything, the earlier you start, the better you’ll be.
Practicing hip mobility exercises and focusing on strengthening your hips is smart as a beginner.
In a sense, when you are learning and practicing form, you are building your foundation.
Strengthening your hips and gaining mobility are both a part of your foundation.
Outside of specific exercises, this also builds the case for doing proper stretching — especially on leg day.
With deep stretching, you can help release any muscle tightness and gain flexibility in your hips.
Doing so will allow your mobility to increase exponentially.
As a beginner, you’ll want to do these things straight away, as it’ll only get harder to start when you get older.
You may get more experienced in your lifting, but if your mobility doesn’t progress, you’ll hit a wall — fast!
Related: Tip: Squat Without Hip Pain
A Call to Action for the Elderly to Perform Hip Mobility Exercises
Now, as I claim above, starting as a beginner is always better.
Yet, what if you’re elderly and maybe have been working out with bad hip mobility for all this time?
No problem — you should still attempt to boost your mobility through stretching and strength.
Think of it like a retirement plan that you didn’t start until you were already in your 50s.
Obviously, someone who planned for retirement in their 20s has a leg up on you (no pun intended).
But, you still have a reason to strive for a healthy retirement and should begin saving.
The same thing applies to building your hip mobility, even if you’re late to the game, you should join in.
Sure, you may need to take it slower, stretch more, practice more, and rest more.
That’s no problem at all, as long as you are working towards bettering your mobility.
Tips for All You Desk Jockeys
In my opinion, this a group of people who really need to take some of this advice.
All of you who work a 9-5 desk job (or are just always on your butt) need to get up and stretch.
Not only stretch but exercise.
Maybe you aren’t entirely looking to get into weightlifting or bodybuilding, but having hip mobility will be good for your life.
There are so many horror stories about people in cubicles having bad posture, back, neck, hip problems.
You are almost sitting there decaying if you don’t take actions against it.
So, for the grinders at the computer desk, read on and see what types of exercises will help you.
I want you to have longevity and health, so we’re going to find a way to help you achieve both of those.
Everyone with Preexisting Injuries Should Do (Safe) Hip Mobility Exercises
Another group of people who should focus on their hip mobility is those with injuries.
Back injuries, leg injuries, spine injuries, etc. can all benefit from training your hip mobility.
Of course, make sure your physician or therapist recommends working out and certain stretches.
But, if you are clear to do so, why not work out your mobility?
Injuries can fester and get worse with time if not treated or worked on.
Always do your best to heal yourself to the best of your ability.
Don’t become content with medication and “living with it” when it comes to injuries.
Most injuries people have can be helped (if not fixed) through strategic, consistent practices.
Related: Can Deadlifts Help Lower Back Pain?
Which Hip Mobility Exercises Should You Do?
Determining Which Hip Mobility Exercises are Most Beneficial for You
If you have a certain level of hip mobility already, then you can usually perform more weighted movements.
For those of you with bad hip mobility, you should probably work more on the stretching and bodyweight exercises.
However, with time and training, you’ll be in a better position for more aggressive exercises.
So, if you have some level of experience and decent mobility, I would suggest practicing these:
- Squats – one of the best ways to build up your legs and lower body in general. Get deep in the squat to work your hip flexors and gain mobility strength.
- Lunges – a great way to exercise your full range of motion and hip mobility. These work great with weight, done in place, but particularly well when they are walking lunges.
- Walking Squats with Resistance Bands – basically, you will be lunging into a squat sideways across the room or forward. With a resistance band between your legs, you will be pushing out with your hips to keep the tension.
- Heavy Hip Adduction – using the machine for hip adduction will give you a nice inner thigh squeeze. To make the most out of this exercise, you’ll want your starting position to have your legs spread very wide.
- Heavy Hip Abduction – with the hip abduction machine, you can load the weight and push the resistance out to open up your hips. This is one exercise you will really feel start to strengthen your hips.
For these exercises that implement the use of heavy weights, I recommend getting a Dark Iron Fitness genuine leather weightlifting belt.
With this belt, your heavy squats and lunges will be much easier and safer.
What if I Have Weak Hips?
For those out there with hip problems, I would focus on deep stretches and bodyweight or light exercises:
- Frog Stretch – this exercise has you stretching by being face down on all fours. The inside of your knees are pressed against the floor with your hands in front of you. A great way to easily open up your hips.
- Butterfly Stretch – one of the most common stretches for your hips. Sitting on your butt, put the soles of your feet together in front of you, grab your feet, and use your elbows to push your legs down.
- Hip Adduction – with a medicine ball or exercise ball between your inner thighs, squeeze together to feel the strength of your hips.
- Hip Abduction – unlike on the abduction machine, you can also perform these laying on your side and pushing your leg in the air. For slightly more resistance, use your leg to push a resistance band up.
- Bodyweight Squats – another great way for those with bad hip mobility to work on it without any real risks. Use only your bodyweight for these squats and do as many reps as comfortably possible.
- Glute Bridges – lay on your back with your knees up. To perform the glute bridge raise your butt off the ground and push your hips up towards the sky. Squeeze your glutes and you should also feel the stretch on the top part of your hips.
- Pigeon Pose – for this stretch, you’ll want one leg bent in front of you and the opposite leg stretched straight back behind you.
For more hip mobility exercise options, check out this post here from our friends over at Performance Ground.
So, Which Do You Choose?
Without a doubt, do the hip mobility exercises that are most comfortable for you and you’ll benefit.
It’s better to do something instead of nothing.
For those who are active stretchers, lifters and are in fairly good shape (or great shape), I would still suggest doing these often!
The more weight you lift, the more beneficial it will be to do some hip stretching and light exercises.
But, which are the best hip mobility exercises?
Are some better than others?
Well, let’s discuss some differences in effect and overall positives.
Some Exercises Will Be Better than Others
Something to remember is that not all of these exercises are equal.
Sure, squats and lunges are great and work well for leg day, glutes, quads, etc.
But, if your form and range aren’t the best, you won’t really add much benefit to your hip mobility.
You may be better off doing the deeper stretching in order to “open up” the hips and achieve range.
On the flip side, if you become a pro at stretching but never strengthen your hips with exercises and weights, you aren’t helping to build your mobility.
This is why heavy squats, lunges, and working your hip adductors and abductors can really make a difference.
Evaluate your physicality level and perform the exercises according to that.
In the end, what you see as beneficial one month can become obsolete the next if you are progressing properly.
Related: 11 Moves to Improve Hip Mobility
Final Thoughts on Hip Mobility Exercises
Are These Exercises Truly Worth It?
In my honest opinion, yes, these are all very great exercises.
Stretching and exercising your hips will be a huge benefit to your body.
Leg days will get easier, your athleticism will grow, and your life will get better.
Why not take a small amount of time out of your day to make life more fruitful?
Furthermore, for those of you out there with chicken legs, you might as well do these.
If you don’t want to train legs, you might as well give them a light stretching to stay mobile.
Other Ways to Benefit Hip Mobility
Lastly, some other ways to optimize your hip mobility would be through daily activities.
Walking, first of all, is hugely important.
Go outside, go for a walk, and remain moving.
If you work at a desk, get up from your seat and circle the office.
When you are doing chores and daily tasks, try not to be lazy when doing them.
For example, while cleaning, get down in a squat to clean or pick up items.
Make use of your leg and hip muscles, keep the joints warm and lubricated.
Also, invest in keeping your posture, form, and body safe and secure.
Using products like our genuine leather weightlifting belt will keep you covered in the gym.
However, even those who aren’t in the gym should seek ways to protect their joints and hips.
Maybe you aren’t in a “fitness” setting — that doesn’t mean you should disregard some of these exercises and stretches.
Do what you can, when you can, and watch your hip mobility progress.