You may not think about them much, but your hip flexors are essential for mobility and movement. You use your hip flexor muscles in everyday life when you walk, run, squat, sit up in bed, or use the stairs, but they can become tight and weak from prolonged sitting or intense sports. Tightness or weakness of the hip flexors can result in lower back pain, hip pain and injury. This is why it’s essential to keep these muscles strong and flexible. Check out the best hip flexor exercises for strength and speed!
8 Signs You Have Tight Hip Flexors
- Pain when lying down
- Tightness or ache in your lower back, especially while standing
- Poor posture and difficulty standing up straight
- Inability to extend your leg behind you
- Pain when sitting or rising from a seated position
- Pinching or snapping in the hip during movement
- Hip pain when you walk
- Tenderness when pressing into the hip flexors
7 Causes of Tight Hip Flexors
- Sitting for too long – puts your hip flexors in a compressed position, causing them to shorten and tighten up.
- Activities like running and biking – repeatedly using your hip flexors to lift your legs shortens the hip flexor muscles.
- Sports like martial arts and dancing – engage the hip flexors in training, without any counteracting movement.
- Having a weak core – forces the hip flexors to work overtime to stabilize the spine.
- Excessive focus on lower body training, including squats and deadlifts.
- Having poor posture, including leaning forward or towards one side of the body.
- Structural issues, such as having a tipped pelvis or one leg naturally longer than the other.
4 Best Hip Flexor Exercises For Strength
1. Psoas March
You’ll need a small resistance band for this exercise. Place it around your feet and lie on your back with your knees bent at a right angle off the ground. Keep resistance throughout the exercise, extending one leg and slowly bringing it back, then repeating on the other side. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.
2. Glute Bridge
Start lying on your back with your knees bent and arms by your sides. Lift your hips up as high as possible and squeeze your glutes. Your core should be engaged. Slowly bring your hips back down to starting position. Repeat 10 to 20 times. To make it more challenging, cross one leg over the opposite knee and lift one side at a time.
3. Seated Leg Raises
Sit on the floor with your back straight and your left leg extended out in front of you. Hug the right knee into your chest. Engage your core and begin to slowly lift your left leg off the ground. Hold for one second, then slowly lower it back down to the ground. Repeat 3 sets of 3 reps.
4. Walking Lunge
Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, then step forward into a lunge, taking as big a step as you can without losing balance. You should still be able to touch your back knee to the floor. Stand back up, take a step forward with your other foot, bending both knees until your back knee is just above the floor. Repeat this forward movement for the desired number of reps.
4 Best Hip Flexor Exercises For Speed
1. Scissor Kicks
Lie on your back with your arms down by your sides. Lift both your legs a few inches off the ground and separate them slightly into a “V” shape. Engage your core and press your lower back into the ground.
Keeping both legs straight, bring your legs together and cross your right leg over the left. Widen your legs into a “V”again, then cross your left leg over the right. Continue alternating for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
2. High Knees
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then lift your left knee up to your chest. Switch to lift your right knee to your chest. Continue the movement, alternating legs and moving at a sprinting or running pace. Do this for 30 seconds, repeat 3 times.
3. Jump Squat
Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a big step forward with your right leg, shifting your weight forward to get into a lunge position. Lower your body so that your leg is parallel to the floor. Your arms should be at your sides.
Jump up, switching the position of your feet in mid-air, so that your left leg is now forward and your right leg is behind you. Land in a lunge position with your left leg forward. You can pump your arms in the air while you jump to help you. Repeat for 30 seconds.
4. Kettlebell Swing
Place a kettlebell in front of you on the floor. Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than your hips and your legs slightly turned out. Keeping a straight spine, bend your knees and bend at the hips to pick the kettlebell up with both hands.
Pull your shoulders back and lift your chest. Swing the weight from the floor back between your legs. Drive through your heels and explode through your hips to send the kettlebell swinging upwards. Aim for chest height with your arms extended. Allow the weight to descend back between your legs and ready your body for the next rep. Continue for 30 seconds.
Having strong hip flexors is important for everything from everyday activities to high performance sports. Do these hip flexor exercises regularly to loosen them up and enjoy a full range of motion.
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