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11 Exercises for Strong Hips and Thighs

The Best Hip Workout Moves For Strong Legs and a Better Booty

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Give your legs and booty a firm push in the right direction with this effective hip workout. For best results, do all of the hip workout moves below after a cardio session or incorporate them to your existing strength routine three or four days per week.

You'll need: A set of dumbbells (5 to 15 pounds, depending on your fitness level) and a resistance loop (or resistance band tied in a small loop).

Balancing Squat

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Adding a balance challenge to a standard squat will keep your hips, glutes, and abs firing the entire time.

  • Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Keeping your chest lifted and maintaining a neutral spine, lower into a deep squat, reaching both arms to the floor (try to tap the ground if you can).
  • As you press up, shift your weight into your right leg as you bend your left knee and grab onto your shin with your left hand [as shown].
  • Hold the hip workout here for 1 count, release your leg, and return to start.

Do 20 reps total, alternating sides.

Photo: Vanessa Rogers

Standing Slow Side Kick

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This hip workout is all about control. Try not to swing your leg—use hip and core strength to lift and lower.

  • With feet hip-width apart and hands on hips, slowly extend right leg to the side at hip height in 3 full counts. Be sure to keep inner thigh parallel to the floor.
  • Hold for 1 count, then take 3 counts to lower to floor.
  • Repeat on the left.

Do 15 reps per side.

Photo: Susan Pittard

Side-Stepping Curtsy

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This traveling lunge targets your thighs and glutes, plus the reaching motion adds an extra core challenge (speaking of which, try this 30-day plank-a-thon!) to the hip workout.

  • Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, hands clasped behind your head.
  • Cross your right leg behind your left and lower into a curtsy lunge, reaching your right hand to the floor [as shown].
  • Quickly stand back up and return to start.

Do 20 reps total, alternating sides.

Photo: Vanessa Rogers

Alternating Side Jump

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A little plyometrics goes a long way to challenge your lower body—and your heart!

  • Standing with hands on hips, hop 3 feet to your left, landing on your left foot with left knee slightly bent.
  • Bring your right foot down to the floor.
  • Repeat to the right.

Do 15 reps per side.

Photo: Susan Pittard

Hinging Deadlift

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For a head-turning lower body, strengthening your backside is just as, if not more, important than your front. Deadlifts, one of the most effective hip workout moves, recruit the muscles in your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold the weights in front of your thighs, palms facing in.
  • Maintaining a neutral spine, hinge forward from your hips, reaching the dumbbells to the ground, until your torso is almost parallel with the floor.
  • Focus on using your glutes to raise your body halfway back up [as shown] and then return to full forward hinge again.

Do 20 reps.

Photo: Vanessa Rogers

Hip Raise

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For a bigger butt boost, try this hip workout with your foot on a slightly unstable surface, such as a bosu ball.

  • Lie faceup with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Slowly lift hips and extend left leg, pointing toes toward the wall in front of you.
  • Hold for 1 count, then move your left leg out to your left side at 90 degrees.
  • Hold for 1 count and return to center before lowering.

Do 10 reps per side.

Photo: Susan Pittard

Shifting Side Lunge

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What happens when you combine a sumo squat with a side lunge? You get triple the hip workout in one move! (Related: 8 Butt-Lifting Exercises That Actually Work)

  • Stand with your feet together, holding dumbbells by your sides.
  • Take a wide step out to your right and lower into a side lunge, reaching dumbbells on either side of right leg [as shown].
  • Bend your left knee and shift your weight into both legs, into a wide squat position, reaching the dumbbells to floor in front of you, then extend your right leg and shift your weight to the left, moving into a side lunge with your left leg.
  • Push off your left foot to bring your legs together and return to start.

Do 20 reps total, alternating sides.

Photo: Vanessa Rogers

Traveling Squat-Kick

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Channel your inner martial artist for this hip workout that also strengthens your quads and butt.

  • Stand with hands on hips and kick your right leg in an arc across the front of your body before bringing your foot to the floor in a squat.
  • Step your left foot next to the right and come to a stand.

Do 15 reps per side.

Photo: Susan Pittard

External Hip Raise

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Build strength in your hips from the inside out with this super-effective strength move. (Check out the best metabolism-strength moves, according to science.)

  • Loop a resistance band around your ankles and lie on your right side, supporting your upper body with your right hand and forearm.
  • Extend both legs out, feet flexed. Brace your abs in tight and lift your top leg up to hip height, rotating your leg to turn your toes down to the floor, keeping tension on the band.
  • Lift your leg slightly higher than hip height, pushing against band, with heel rotated up to the ceiling.
  • Return to hip height.

Do 20 reps per side.

Photo: Vanessa Rogers

Single Leg Raise

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Kick up your hip workout with this targeted toner that challenges the outer tights, hip flexors, and booty all at once. (Related: This 30-Day Butt Challenge Seriously Sculpts Your Backside)

  • Get on all fours, weight evenly balanced between your hands and knees.
  • Lift your left leg out to the side, keeping knee bent 90 degrees and inner thigh facing the floor.
  • Quickly kick your leg diagonally behind you, bringing your heel toward the ceiling.
  • Return your left knee to the floor.

Do 10 reps per side.

Photo: Susan Pittard

Side-Lying Leg Lift

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This move was recently named by the American Council on Exercise as one of the very best thigh toning exercises, but it also engages your abs (you'll feel it the next day!).

How to do it: Loop a resistance band around your ankles and lie on your right side with your right arm extended on the floor, left hand in front of your body for support. Brace your abs in tight, bring your bottom leg slightly in front of your top leg (let the inside of your top foot rest on the ground), and lift your leg up to the ceiling, keeping your hips stacked. Maintain tension on the band at all times and pulse your bottom leg up and down quickly 20 times. Repeat on the other side.

Related: For more workouts to tone your trouble zones, check out SHAPE's exclusive new diet and fitness program!

Photo: Vanessa Rogers

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