Check out these great hip extension exercises which target the gluteus maximus and hamstrings as primary movers and the hip abductors/adductors as hip stabilizers all while requiring the inner core unit muscles to effectively engage throughout each exercise. Begin with the foundational hip extension variation and, once you master it, advance to the more intense versions. Perform two-three sets of 10-12 repetitions of one of these exercises, two-three times per week on non-consecutive days. Then, when ready, try the next variation and do the same. Cycle through these variations periodically to keep your hip extension exercises fresh and challenging. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Set Up: Prior to each exercise, position the head/neck into a natural extension of the spine, shoulders rotated back/packed down, rib cage lifted, navel pulled toward the spine and the pelvic floor pulled up and inward. *Maintain a neutral lumbar spine throughout.
Supine Hip Extensions – May be performed from the floor with no equipment (i.e. highly recommended for those new to this exercise), step platform, the BOSU Balance Trainer, TRX Suspension System or stability ball. External resistance may be added with all but the TRX Suspension System or stability ball due to the risk of lumbar spine injury.
*When performing from the step, BOSU, TRX or stability ball, in the beginning positions make certain that the buttocks are close to each apparatus.
-Begin lying supine on the floor with the knees facing the ceiling and the soles of the feet on the floor, legs approximately shoulder distance apart.
-Engaging the gluteus maximus by clenching the buttocks together, press the hips off the floor creating a “glute bridge” (i.e. in Pilates this is referred to as a shoulder bridge).
-Lower the hips back toward the floor keeping the buttocks clenched throughout until you almost touch the floor (i.e. think of a thin piece of paper between your buttocks and the floor).
-Same beginning position, however, instead of placing the feet on the floor, place both feet on a 4-12 inch step platform or bench. Make certain your hips are right up against the step in the beginning position.
-Then, perform the same hip extension action. Once mastered, you may add dumbbells or a barbell/body bar placed on your lower hips to increase intensity.
-Perform with the heels on a BOSU Balance Trainer. You may add dumbbells or a barbell/body bar to your lower hips to increase intensity.
-Perform with the heels on top of a stability ball.
-Perform with the heels on top of the stability ball, hold the glute bridge and then extend the legs out fully, keeping the heels in contact with the ball, and curl the legs back in toward the buttocks to emphasize your hamstrings.
-Perform with the heels slipped into the straps of a TRX Suspension System.
-Perform with the heels slipped into the straps of a TRX Suspension System, holding your glute bridge and then extend the legs out fully, then curl the legs back in toward the buttocks to emphasize your hamstrings.