Get ready: Attach an ankle collar to a cable pulley at the lowest setting. Wrap the strap around one ankle, then step about three feet away from the pole. Lie facedown on a stability ball so your stomach and upper thighs rest on it, then place the toes of your non-working foot on the floor behind you and your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor in front of you.
The gluteus maximus (also known collectively with the gluteus medius and minimus, as the gluteal muscles, and sometimes referred to informally as the "glutes") is the main extensor muscle of the hip. It is the largest and most superficial of the three gluteal muscles and makes up a large portion of the shape and appearance of each side of the hips. Its thick fleshy mass, in a quadrilateral shape, forms the prominence of the buttocks.
The hip flexors are a group of muscles in the front of the hip that act to lift the knee and bring the thigh towards the abdomen. The major muscles making up the hip flexors that we will focus on are the iliacus and the psoas, or the iliopsoas and the rectus femoris. The rectus femoris is a “two joint muscle” because it crosses both the hip and knee joints. As a group, the hip flexors have attachments on the lumbar spine, the pelvis, and the femur. In addition to their major function of flexing the hip, their attachment on the spine makes them an important part of the core muscles and spinal stabilizers.
Although muscle stimulation occurs in the gym (or home gym) when lifting weights, muscle growth occurs afterward during rest periods. Without adequate rest and sleep (6 to 8 hours), muscles do not have an opportunity to recover and grow. Additionally, many athletes find that a daytime nap further increases their body's ability to recover from training and build muscles. Some bodybuilders add a massage at the end of each workout to their routine as a method of recovering.
From a standing position, balance yourself on your left leg. With your right leg straight and slightly off the floor, perform small circles (from the hip) in front, to the side, and then behind you. Aim for 3-5 circles both clockwise and counterclockwise at each angle. Your supporting leg glutes will be firing to stabilize your pelvis so be sure to stand tall and strong – no swaying.
K. Aleisha Fetters, M.S., C.S.C.S., is a Chicago-based personal and online trainer. She has a graduate degree in health and science reporting from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and regularly contributes to Men's Health, Women's Health, USNews.com, TIME, and SHAPE. When she's not lifting something heavy, she's usually guzzling coffee and writing about the health benefits of doing so.
How to do it: Begin with one foot firmly planted in front of you with your other leg extended back. Keep balance by putting your weight in the ball of your front foot and the back heel of your back foot. Hold a dumbbell in either hand, arms at your sides. Or, place a resistance band under the foot of your working leg, up, and around the same shoulder. Stand tall and bend your front working leg to approximately 90 degrees, keeping your knee directly over your ankle so it doesn’t over-extend. Return to the start position and repeat. Do both sides.
The hip flexor muscles flex the hip during swing. They are particularly important for initiating swing91 when walking at slow speeds. Without adequate hip flexion during swing, knee flexion is more dependent on hamstring muscle activity.59 Patients with paralysis of the hip flexor muscles attempt to advance the swing leg by either externally rotating the hip and using hip adductor muscles as hip flexors or by circumducting the leg.59,61 The effects of hip flexor muscle paralysis on gait are particularly evident when walking up stairs or slopes, which requires lifting the leg.