9 Exercises to Improve your Hip Mobility & Stability

Dec 20, 2020
by Kim Hardin  
Photo Aaron Blatt for EVIL

Primary movers in cycling include your posterior chain: the hamstrings, glutes, posterior hip and low back muscles. These muscles are crucial to generating power, as well as controlling the hip and directing the pedal stroke (power to the cranks!). At times, these muscles may become inhibited via incorrect saddle position, lack of pelvic stabilization, or lack of hip mobility.

A lack of hip mobility looks different on each person: hips rocking back and forth or side to side, incorrect knee tracking at the top of a pedal stroke (outwards, figure 8's, etc), and posterior rotation of the pelvis. Over time, these movement patterns can lead to discomfort and injury, in addition to a lack of power production and on-bike performance.

Follow along on some of my favorite hip mobilizations to improve your overall hip health and on-bike performance!

Warm-Ups: Wake up those hips with some simple band work...

Bandwork: Clamshells

Start in a sidelying hooklying position with shoulders, hips and ankles stacked over each other, respectively, and an exercise band just above your knees. Your shoulders should be in line with your hips, which should be in line with your ankles. Engage your core, exhale, and open at the knees only so far that your hips do not rock open. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then immediately perform 8 reps. Repeat for 3 sets each side.

Pro Tip: If your hips start to rock open when you open at the knees, you have opened too far - for some, this may be a movement of inches!





Bandwork: Sidelying Hip Extension

Remain on your side, exercise band just above your knees, and extend your legs. Engage your core, breathe out, and raise your top leg upward - imagine pushing out through your heel. Hold for 30 seconds, then immediately perform 8 reps of side-lying hip extension. Roll onto your other side and repeat for 3 sets each side.

Pro Tip: If your hips start to rock open when you lift your upward leg, you have opened too far.





90-90 Hip Switch:

Start in a 90-90 position, sitting up as tall as possible with both hips and knees flexed to 90 degrees. Start with your torso facing towards your left (front) leg, and while keeping your torso tall, come up onto your toes slightly, and perform a simultaneous external rotation of your right hip and internal rotation of your left hip - you will end up with your right hip as your "front" leg. Engage your core, and sit up into the movement. Flow to each side 10 times and repeat for 3 sets.








Hip Airplanes:

Start in a forward lunge position, left leg forward, right heel off the ground, and arms at the back of your head. Hinge forward at the hips about halfway and while engaging your core, rotate to the left (towards your forward leg) then back to neutral. From neutral, engage your core and rotate to the right (away from your forward leg) opening up your hips. Return to your neutral and repeat 8 times on each side for 3 rounds.

Pro Tip: The lower you are able to hold your torso, the harder this will be. However, be sure to hold your torso via engaging your core. Do NOT lay it on your forward leg.






Functional Training:
Single Leg Stand to Press

While it sounds really simple, this exercise is really effective and a good way to get your neurons firing!

Sit on a table, bench, or box, feet shoulder-width apart and about 8-12" from the box. Hold a barbell or dumbbell in both hands as though you were going to do a push-press, and lift your right foot off the ground. In one smooth, slow motion, engage your core, stand up on your left leg and press the weight overhead. Slowly lower yourself back to the box for one rep. While performing this movement, be sure to keep your hips level side to side, and square to the front. The slower you move, the more difficult it will be. Perform 10 reps each side, 3 rounds.

Pro Tip: Start with a tall box. As it becomes easy, move to a shorter box, and add more weight.





Tall Kneel to Functional Slamball:

Start in a tall kneel holding a medicine ball of your choice. In one smooth movement, come to a low squat, knees at 90 degrees, then slam the medicine ball into the ground in front of you as hard a possible. Catch the ball mid-air and immediately step backwards into the tall kneel. Repeat for 10 ball slams, 3 rounds. Be sure you are alternating which legs as you step into and out of the low squat!







Lateral Hip-Shift to Eccentric SL Squat:

This one is HARD, but is one of my favorites that doubles both as a warm-up as well as a strengthening exercise!

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, then take a decent sized lateral lunge to the right. With arms forward for counterbalance, shift your weight over your right leg and lower down as far as you possibly can. Fully unweight your left leg, and swing your left leg to the front - imagine reaching out through your heel with a straight leg. From here, stand back up in an eccentric SL squat. Once standing, swing your left leg back to its original position and flow to the other side: Perform 5-8 reps each side, 3 rounds.

Pro Tip: Only go down as far as you can hold the position - you do NOT want to be sitting on the floor in the "down" position! As you gain mobility, you will be able to go lower, while as you gain strength you will be able to better stand from said low position.












Staggered Stance Weighted Deadlift

Start holding a kettlebell or dumbbell in your right hand with your feet in a staggered stance, right leg forward. You should be up on your toes on your back leg with the majority of your weight over your standing leg. Engage your core and hinge forward at the hips as you let the kettlebell lower towards the ground. Lower down until you can no longer keep your hips square to the front or torso straight. Keeping your core engaged, breathe out and return to standing. Important: As you stand, be sure your abdominals are truly engaged as they provide a natural stopping point at the top of the movement, preventing you from overextending at your low back. Use your "accessory" foot for balance and support, as needed. Repeat 10x each leg, 3 rounds.

Pro-tip: I recommend holding the kettlebell in the same hand as your standing leg - this lateral placement brings in your adductors.



+Want an added challenge? Fully eliminate your support leg, and add weight - Be sure to keep a slight bend in your standing leg and avoid locking out your knee.





Single Arm Rear Delt Row off Wall:

Stand with shoulders and hips both level and square to the front. Shift your weight to your right leg, and place your left foot on the wall behind you, knee bent at 90 degrees - you may need to adjust your distance from the wall. While pressing back into the wall with your left foot, and into the ground with your right, engage your core and hinge forward at the hips slightly. From here, perform alternating single-arm rear delt. rows - Perform 6-8x each side, 3 rounds. The key here is to move slow and press through your feet!




+Want a different kind of challenge? Mix it up with a Single Arm Row!

These few exercises serve as a simple introduction to hip mobility and stability. Use them in your warmup, complete them together as a circuit, or in addition to your workout for a full-body challenge. There are thousands of hip mobility/stability exercises, and many many variations, however, it's important to start basic, and progress as you gain strength and stability. What's most important is to be consistent with your workouts - you'll notice as you do so, your aches and pains will be less and with greater hip mobility, your power production should improve as well.

See you on the trail,
Kim Hardin





About the Author
@kimannhardin
@meetthehardins
www.meetthehardins.com

Stats: Age: 31 • Professional Enduro Athlete, Small Business Owner: KickStand Coffee & Kitchen, Hood River OR • ACE Certified Personal Trainer • PMBIA Level 1 MTB Instructor • B.S. Human Physiology • M.S. Healthcare Administration Sponsors: EVIL, Chris King Precision Components, Race Face, Schwalbe Tires, Dakine, SMITH, PUSH Industries, Dumonde Tech and KickStand Coffee & Kitchen




51 Comments

  • 33 1
 That was a workout just reading this, whew, time for a drink!
  • 27 0
 Ha, I know - it's lengthy, but hopefully for those looking with hip issues or looking spice up their gym routine, the scrolling is worth it. Wanted to be sure there was plenty of clarity so ended up with likely too many photos Smile
  • 6 0
 @wwpaddler03: Thanks for the in depth instructions! I think just about all of us have hip issues if we're not actively working on them and a few of us are finding ourselves without the ability to get to the gym right now for some reason...
  • 3 0
 @gilby82: Thanks for saying so Smile Enjoy these!
  • 2 0
 @wwpaddler03: I will. And look out. Now that I'll have some hip ROM, I may get within a couple minutes of your times at the upcoming CDC/NAEC season! Doubtful, but at least if gives me hope Wink
  • 2 1
 Scroll fast and it's like a flip-book animation... Some good exercises in there - will def' be giving them a go!
  • 1 0
 Beer or recovery drink??

Beer for me and my horses lol
  • 9 1
 Awesome list of exercises. Very important to incorporate these movements into your routine if you want to ride with high intensity or for long durations year after year.

Most riders I know are held back from progressing or getting faster by a weak core & posterior chain. Not to mention practicing these type of movements in the gym or at home is a great way to improve proprioception & coordination that will translate to better control of the bike and more fun on the trail.

Going to reintroduce a few of these that I had forgotten about. Thanks for the writeup!
  • 4 0
 Thanks @DMoneyBike ! I've been doing these for awhile now, with a history of R hip/pelvic instabilities and they have made a huge difference for me - love sharing!
  • 8 0
 People do all this to be fast on a bike??? No wonder I’ll always be so dang slow!
  • 3 0
 Not necessarily to be fast, although mobile hips mean good ability to produce power. However, many people have hip or pelvic pain when on the bike, and may be restricted in the amount they can ride, or kind of riding they can do. By working on mobility, that person might be able to pedal longer without pain - game changer!
  • 2 0
 Seems crazy till you try it for yourself. Even 30 minutes 3x week makes a huge difference if you are consistent about it. Every ride starts to feel easier and you can charge the downhills with good form top to bottom. Not only does it make riding safer, but also more fun.
  • 5 0
 These are great, thanks for sharing. Many of my students have no idea how tight and weak their hips are (compared to how mobile they could be) and how much tight hips interfer with their riding. This is also the cause of much/all of their back pain.
  • 3 0
 Agreed! Until you give your hips a little focus, you'll never know the link to the low back, and riding ability!
  • 1 0
 @wwpaddler03: I am starting to notice this connection between the hips and back as well. Just this year I started to have some lower back pain and now I am feeling a bit of hip issues as well. The back is during the ride and after, the hips just after. I have been half-assedly looking for some hip exercises. Perfect timing and thanks for putting this together!
  • 8 0
 I’ll just hold my 2 year old in place of fancy weights.
  • 2 0
 This Article is Great... and Yes, I tooo will be using my 2-year old for the "weights"!
  • 7 0
 Just don't do the slam ball part
  • 1 0
 That works too - Just no Slamball!
  • 1 0
 nm
  • 3 0
 Thank you for this! I've been dealing with a left hip labral tear from a crash in August that I also broke 3 ribs. The ribs have healed but the hip had gotten worse and required going to physio to promote healing. I am already doing some of these exercises but always looking for more.
  • 3 0
 OUCH! Sounds like gnarly crash - Hope you're healing up well!
  • 1 0
 Hey @DanielP07 , I do a variety of warm-ups, but like to do the following circuit using some of the above movements:


3 rounds (one exercise into the next):

Hip airplane
Banded clamshell
Banded sidelying ER
90-90 Hip switch

Then move into your workout or the rest of the above Smile
  • 1 0
 Thanks for posting One leg deadlifts are a great way to build bilateral symmetry as well as one leg squats. If you have wrist issues, instead of a barbell you can use a kettle bell or weighted vest.
  • 1 0
 Thanks @deanoshred !
  • 3 0
 No creepy comments? Way to go, pinkbikers! Nice to see. Shocking! But nice.
  • 1 0
 @wwpadler03 just wondering on the SLDLs if there is a specific reason for holding the KB same side as leg that is working? I learned this movement by holding KB on opposite side of working leg.
  • 1 0
 @kylenystad yes! The lateral placement brings in your adductors!
  • 3 0
 Thank you for not doing slam ball at home. -your downstairs neighbor
  • 1 0
 Anyone know if there is a video for this anywhere? So much easier to see things in motion. Thanks! Glad to continually see exercise and self care articles!
  • 2 0
 Hey @northwesttillirest I don't have any video currently, as I'm not the best video-maker, but can some clips together - follow me on IG and I'll be sure to add to my stories tomorrow!
  • 1 0
 Is it me or is the assegai mounted backwards on her front tire. Also great shots to show all the movements required without needing to run the video.
  • 2 0
 That front tire is a Schwalbe Magic Mary Smile
  • 2 0
 Thank you for the feedback- was feeling a little photo heavy, but glad it flows well!
  • 2 0
 Awesome job Kim! I definitely need to incorporate these into my strength training routine.
  • 1 0
 @nkrohan Thanks lady! Hope to ride with you soon! 3
  • 2 0
 any warm up recommendations?
  • 1 0
 Hey @DanielP07 , I do a variety of warm-ups, but like to do the following circuit using some of the above movements:


3 rounds (one exercise into the next):

Hip airplane
Banded clamshell
Banded sidelying ER
90-90 Hip switch

Then move into your workout or the rest of the above Smile
  • 1 0
 The exercise where I notice lack of hip mobility most is overhead squats. Gonna try a few of these and see if they help.
  • 1 0
 Give it a go- on back squats, look at your ankle flexion as well. Propping your heels up on a plate can help in that regard as well Smile
  • 2 0
 I have some chronic hip pain and def needed this, thanks!
  • 1 0
 @dwbaillar Of course! Holler if you have any questions!
  • 2 0
 I’ve got laying on my side dialed!
  • 1 0
 Step 1! Smile
  • 1 0
 Thanks for another killer, much needed article Kim
  • 1 0
 Woop woop!
  • 1 0
 Those shoes are so great for working out in, love them
  • 1 0
 Me too! Closest thing you can get to barefoot! Smile
  • 1 0
 @wwpaddler03: What brand and model? Sorry if I missed it.
  • 1 0
 @Cerveloboy: merrell vapor glove 3. They make them in some different materials like cloth and fake suede, but the original ones with nylon or whatever (that she is wearing) are the best. Really cool for allowing your foot's natural movement and flexibility. Not the best in snow or walking on anything sharp and running will feel like barefoot running whether you want it to or not. Otherwise they are amazing. It's like your feet are riding a hard tail instead of a FS running shoe. Pick your lines well lol
  • 1 0
 Cheers, these are great

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