Fit Tip: Trouble Areas | The Hips

Posted On Oct 3, 2019 By Amy Kiser Schemper

A fit woman performing a side lunge.

The past few months we’ve been discussing “trouble spots” or “target areas”. While I agree with the popular saying that “you can’t spot train,” I also believe we can “target” these areas. We need to train the entire body for both strength and cardio and eat a nutritious diet to see true changes in our body’s composition, but spending extra time on targeted exercises for certain muscles groups can also go a long way to helping you get the results you want.

So far, we’ve talked about “love handles” and “back fat” and today we are touching on the spots commonly referred to as “Saddlebags” or “Hip Dips.” Same area of the body, but two separate things. For years women have tried to target the saddlebags, but recently hip dips became the new trendy term -- so what are they exactly? “Saddlebags” refers the curved area on the outside of the thighs, below the hip bones. “Hip Dips” refers to the indentation just above this area. Not everyone has or notices them, but many women consider this a stubborn problem area.

While there are aesthetic reasons to train the hips, strengthening the muscles of the hips is also extremely important to our mobility, flexibility, and overall health. When hip and hip flexor muscles get tight, we tend to overuse our spine. Weak hips can also lead to back pain and make everyday activities difficult. Strong hips improve balance, promote circulation, and generally help us move and feel better!

A fit man performing skaters outside.

Here are a few tips to train for stronger, leaner hips!

Work in all planes of motion. So much of our everyday movement happens in the sagittal plane (moving forward or backwards), and often our workouts can get stuck in this plane, too. Moving laterally in the horizontal plane as well as rotating diagonally in the transverse plane will force the body to work in less common ways directionally, thus strengthening and sculpting those underdeveloped muscles.

Add some weight! I know, this is a tip I give often, but there’s a reason. Throughout my many years of working in fitness, I’ve experienced how women in particular can be fearful that using heavy weights will add more bulk to the areas where they already store excess fat. It won’t! Making those muscles work harder will not only tighten, tone and lift, it will burn more calories! Both during your workout (it takes more energy to lift more weight), and after your workout (more muscle fiber can increase metabolism even at rest).

Keep the big picture in mind. Many traditional exercises focus on the big muscles of the lower body like the quads, hamstrings and glutes; these are our prime movers and the hips are often assistors. Because of this, we sometimes think of hip training as isolating the smaller muscles with resistance bands, barre or Pilates type movements, or leg lifts. While both are effective, find compound exercises to work the entire area, like the ones listed in the workout below, to get the most bang for your buck (or butt).

Leaner Stronger Hip Workout

Do each for 20 repetitions on both right and left sides. Then repeat.

  1. Side lunge pulse and lift
  2. Curtsy lunge tap in
  3. Squat and side raise
  4. Side plank side leg lift

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