I created a new yoga routine that includes all my favorite hip flexor strengthening exercises because many of my yoga goals require hip flexor strength. I have tried enough routines to know which exercises yield the best results, and I couldn’t find a routine that put them all together. So here we have it in this one crazy effective practice!
What Are the Hip Flexors?
Hip flexors are a group of muscles located in the front of the hip joint. They include the iliopsoas, the iliacus and psoas major muscles, and the rectus femoris muscle. The hip flexors are responsible for flexing the hip joint, which means they bring your thigh towards your torso. They also play a role in stabilizing the pelvis and lower back and assisting with movements such as walking, running, and jumping.
The hip flexors can become tight and weak due to prolonged sitting, lack of exercise, or certain medical conditions. This can lead to discomfort and pain in the lower back and hips and decreased flexibility and range of motion. Regular exercise and stretching are essential to keep these muscles strong and flexible.
Weak Hip Flexors Symptoms
Weak hip flexors can cause various symptoms, ranging from discomfort and pain to decreased range of motion and difficulty performing everyday activities. Here are some other common symptoms of weak hip flexors:
- Lower back pain: Weak hip flexors can cause your pelvis to tilt forward, which puts extra pressure on your lower back muscles. This can lead to lower back pain, especially when sitting for prolonged periods.
- Hip pain: Weak hip flexors can also cause discomfort or pain in the hips, mainly when performing activities that require hip flexion, such as walking or climbing stairs.
- Tightness in the hip flexors: When hip flexors are weak, they can become tight and shortened, leading to decreased flexibility and range of motion in the hips. Overall, weak hip flexors will lead to poor mobility
- Poor posture: Weak hip flexors can contribute to poor posture, as they are involved in maintaining proper alignment of the pelvis and spine.
- Difficulty performing specific exercises or activities: Weak hip flexors can make it difficult to perform exercises that involve hip flexion, such as squats, lunges, or leg raises. They can also make it harder to perform everyday activities, such as getting up from a seated position or lifting heavy objects.
- Knee pain: Weak hip flexors can affect the alignment of the knee, leading to increased stress on the knee joint and potential pain or discomfort.
- Foot and ankle pain: Weak hip flexors can also contribute to foot and ankle pain, as they maintain proper alignment and stability of the lower extremities.
It’s important to note that other factors can also cause these symptoms, so it’s always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment plan. Strengthening exercises and stretching can help to improve weak hip flexors and alleviate symptoms.
Yoga Moves That Require Strong Hip Flexors
For me, strengthening my hip flexors was about moving into some fun and challenging yoga flows!
Several yoga poses require strong hip flexors, including:
- Boat pose (Navasana): This pose engages the hip flexors to lift the legs off the ground and hold them parallel to the floor.
- Low lunge (Anjaneyasana): This pose stretches the hip flexors of the back leg while strengthening the hip flexors of the front leg.
- Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I): This pose requires strong hip flexors to maintain a deep lunge while reaching the arms up overhead.
- Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III): This pose requires strong hip flexors to lift the back leg off the ground and hold the body in a horizontal line.
- Half pigeon pose (Ardha Kapotasana): This pose deeply stretches the hip flexors of the front leg while engaging the hip flexors of the back leg to stabilize the pose.
- Chair pose (Utkatasana): This pose requires strong hip flexors to maintain a deep squat while keeping the thighs parallel to the ground.
- Crow pose (Bakasana): This arm balance requires strong hip flexors to lift the feet off the ground and balance the body on the hands.
Remember to always warm up properly before attempting these poses, listen to your body, and only go as far as is comfortable for you.
Hip Flexor Exercises for Beginners
If you look online for hip flexor exercises, you will likely find the following hip flexor strengthening exercises:
Lunges are a great exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the hip flexors. To do a lunge, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and step forward with one foot. Lower your body until your front knee is bent at a 90-degree angle and your back knee is just above the floor. Ensure your front knee is directly above your ankle, and your back knee is not touching the ground. Push through your front foot and return to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
- Leg Raises
Leg raises are an effective exercise for targeting the hip flexors. To do a leg raise, lie on your back with your arms by your side. Keep one leg straight and lift it towards the ceiling, keeping it as straight as possible. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower it back down. Repeat with the other leg.
- Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are a great exercise that targets the hip flexors and also helps to improve cardiorespiratory fitness. To do a mountain climber, start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your body in a straight line. Bring one knee towards your chest, then quickly switch legs, bringing the other knee towards your chest. Keep alternating legs as fast as you can, while maintaining good form.
- Hip Raises
Hip raises, also known as bridges, are excellent exercises for strengthening the glutes and hip flexors. To do a hip raise, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Lift your hips off the ground, squeezing your glutes and engaging your core. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower your hips back down.
Squats are a popular exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the hip flexors. To squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing slightly outwards. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground, ensuring your knees do not go past your toes. Push through your heels and return to the starting position.
Step-ups are a great exercise for targeting the hip flexors and improving balance. To do a step-up, find a sturdy bench or step and place one foot on it. Push through your heel and lift your body onto the bench, bringing your other foot up to meet it. Step back down with the same foot, then repeat with the other foot.
- Plank with Leg Lift
Plank with leg lift is a challenging exercise that targets the hip flexors and also helps to improve core strength. To do a plank with a leg lift, start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your body in a straight line. Lift one leg off the ground, keeping it as straight as possible, then lower it back down. Repeat with the other leg.
- Standing Quad Stretch
The standing quad stretch is a simple exercise that can help to stretch the hip flexors. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your side for a standing quad stretch. Lift one foot towards your buttocks, grabbing your ankle with your hand. Hold for a few seconds, then release.
These are excellent hip flexor strengthening exercises but are generally more helpful for beginners. Beginners will also benefit from my Pistol Squats for Beginners: Follow-Along Routine to Get Your Pistol Squat. Also, you may enjoy Pancake Stretch Progression: How to Get Your Pancake. Today, I am introducing a more intense and intermediate routine. However, don’t let this intimidate you! Why not give it a try, even if you are a beginner? My favorite way to grow in my practice is to use more advanced routines than I can do, and I work up to them with time.
Yoga Hip Flexor Strengthening Exercises
Here, let me share my favorite hip flexor strengthening exercises, which will be included in today’s follow-along routine. These are more challenging than the previous ones I shared (use blocks as needed; I show you how in the video):
- Yoga Squat: Squat down with your feet flat on the ground and your hips resting close to your heels.
- Skandasana: Yes, we will be getting into side lunges, but working on getting deeper and including more mobility and flexibility.
- Plank With Hip Flexor Exercises: We will start by bringing your knee to your chest into a tight ball a few times on each side, and then we will tap your foot to your wrist.
- Side Plank Transition: I am still working on this, so I assist with my hand. From the side plank, straighten your top leg and slowly take your foot to the outside of your corresponding hand.
- Seated Leg Raises: With your legs outstretched in front of you in a V-Shape, lift your legs to create circles with your feet.
- Boat Pose and drills: Boat pose is one of my favorite hip flexor and core strength exercises. Begin seated on the mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep your spine straight and engage your core muscles as you lean back slightly and lift your feet off the floor. Extend your legs forward so that your body forms a V shape. Reach your arms straight forward, parallel to the ground, with your palms facing down. Keep your gaze fixed on your toes and hold the pose for several breaths, maintaining the engagement of your core muscles and lengthening through your spine. To release, slowly lower your feet and torso back to the ground and return to a seated position.
- Lolasana Lifts: Sit on your mat with your legs folded beneath you. Lift your hips off the ground and straighten your arms, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Shift your weight forward and engage your core muscles as you lift your feet off the ground.
- L-Sit Drills: Sit with your legs outstretched in front of you. Press your hands to your sides t lift your butt off the mat, shifting your weight forward. See if you can lift one leg at a time.
- Pyramid Pose Drills: Start in pyramid pose with your hands on books if needed. Lift the front leg 3-5 times.
- Pistol Squat Drills: Sit in a pistol squat and lift and lower the extended leg.
- Forward Fold Drills: Start in a forward fold position, and tap your toes to your wrist.
- Crow Pose: Crow pose is excellent for strengthening your core and hip flexors. Practice holding your crow pose for 30 seconds.