Improve Hip Mobility to Boost Lower Body Power​

Improve Hip Mobility to Boost Lower Body Power

The best way to boost results on squats, leg presses, and every lower body movement is to improve hip mobility. Most guys know that, but few invest the time in this area that can produce a huge return on investment.

Many of us cannot execute a proper squatting motion. It’s not because we don’t understand the mechanics; we likely learned it as a teenager and can go online if we need a refresher course. It’s because our hips have become locked down from our modern sedentary culture, where we spend much of our time sitting at desks or behind a steering wheel.

The result is a tight, inflexible body that will lead to injury, to say nothing of poor results in the weight room. When your hip flexors are locked up the body shuts down the glutes and makes the hamstrings less efficient. Tight hamstrings are a product of tight hips, which are a product of inactivated glutes. That’s one reason hamstring strains and lower back pain are so commonplace.

To get the most out of our lower body routines– and to avoid injury – we want to work on opening our hips, counteracting the forces of everyday life. Studies suggest it’s possible to do that and reduce the risk of injuries.

These eight moves, which open and stretch the hips, can be used as an active warm-up, especially during a leg day, or a standalone workout, perhaps on a recovery day. Either way, if you perform this workout twice a week, you’ll improve your hip mobility and stability, making your lower body lifts more effective.

Glute Bridge

What it does: It’s one of the best moves to improve the activation patterns of the hips and glutes.

How to do it: Lie faceup on the floor with knees bent 90 degrees and feet on the floor. Squeeze your glutes and bridge your hips to the ceiling. Only your shoulders and hips remain on the ground. Hold for two seconds and then lower your hips toward the ground without touching. Repeat for a set of 10.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps with 30 sec. rest between sets.

Hip Internal Rotations

What it does: This move provides an effective stretch of the hips.

How to do it: Lie on your side with hips and knees bent 90 degrees. While keeping the bottom knee stationary, rotate your top leg into the air. Your top heel remains in contact with the bottom heel. Complete one side of reps before switching sides.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps per side with 30 sec. rest between sets.

Quadruped Rocking

What it does: This move is a combination of two familiar yoga poses: cow and child’s pose and provides a great stretch for the hips and quads.

How to do it: Get down on all fours and let the lower back sag. Push your hips back as far as you can, holding the lumbar arch. You should feel a stretch in and around the hips. Return to the starting position and repeat.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps with 30 seconds rest between sets.

Drop Lunge

What it does: This move stretches the outsides of your hips.

How to do it: From a standing position, arms at your sides, reach one foot behind and across your other foot. Square your hips and sit in a squatting position. Push through your hip to stand up. Complete one side of reps before switching sides.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps per side with 30 sec. rest between sets.

Leg Cradle

What it does: This is another effective move to stretch the outsides of your hips.

How to do it: From a standing position, arms at your sides, lift one foot off the ground, and squat with your other leg. Grab below your lifted knee with the same-side hand and under your ankle with the opposite hand. Extend the standing leg and pull the opposite knee up and across your body, feeling a stretch in the outside of your hip. Return to starting position. Complete one side of reps before switching sides.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps per side with 30 sec. rest between sets.

Knee Hugs

Hip mobilityWhat it does: This simple move stretches the hip flexors, as well as your hamstrings and glutes.

How to do it: Lift your right knee to your chest and grab below the knee with your hands. Pull your right knee to your chest while squeezing your left glute. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side. Continue alternating sides.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps (per side) with 30 sec. rest between sets.

Lateral Bound

Why: This builds explosive lateral power from your hips.

How: Stand balanced on your left leg with your right foot off the ground. Squat slightly with your left leg, then use that leg and glute to jump laterally. Extend the hip and land on the opposite leg only, maintaining your balance. Hold for a three count and repeat to the other side.

Prescription: 2 sets of 10 reps (per side) with 30 sec. rest between sets.

Wall Holds

Why: This move is a great hip stretch and a good test of how well you can maintain proper posture for squatting and everyday movement, keeping shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles in a straight line.

How: From a standing position, lean forward with your hands on a wall. Lift one knee and foot toward the wall. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

Prescription: 2 sets of 30 seconds with 30 seconds rest between sets.


Pete Williams is a NASM-CPT and the author or co-author of several fitness books, including Core Performance and Every Day is Game Day. His work has appeared in publications such as Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, and USA Today.