Jun 1, 1997
Outside Magazine
To see how hard your hips work, says Robert King, a personal trainer at the Vail Athletic Club, hop on a bike with clipless pedals. As you lift your leg, it's your hip flexors that start the motion and your hip extensors that finish it off. Aside from serving as a base for your trunk, your hips initiate lateral rotation, which means they need to be sturdy and flexible if you desire to hunker down over the nose of a longboard or some such thing. They're important enough, in any case, that King designed a workout just for them using the following exercises. Add ankle weights if the strength exercises are too easy, but try them without weights first.


Leg Raises
Strengthens hip flexors, quadriceps. Sit upright on the floor, right leg extended in front of you, foot flexed; hug your left knee to your chest, keeping that foot flat on the floor. Now, holding your back erect, lift your right leg a few inches off the floor, and then lower. After a full set, repeat with opposite leg.

Side Leg Raises
Strengthens hip flexors, extensors, abductors. Lie on your left side with your body straight and your head resting on your arm. Lift your right leg sideways toward the ceiling; as you lower it, twist your leg so that your right toes touch the floor in front of your left foot. Raise it again, and then lower it so your right heel touches behind your left foot. After a full set, switch sides and repeat.

Strengthens adductors, abdominals. Lie on your back, legs together and pointing toward the ceiling, and position your hands, palms down, under your hips for support. Keeping your back against the floor, as with crunches, slowly open your legs and lower them toward the floor. Scissor your legs back together.

Hip Flexor Stretch
Stretches hip flexors, abductors. Lie on your back, with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Cross your left ankle in front of your right knee. Clasp your hands behind your right knee and gently pull it toward you, using it as a lever to stretch your left hip. Be sure to keep your right leg bent. Hold for 45 seconds. Repeat on other side.

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