Simple Exercises to Strengthen Hips and Glutes

Simple Exercises to Strengthen Hips and Glutes

After my scare with my knee a couple of weeks ago (in detail at the bottom of this post) and hesistant about starting a strength training routine just 12 weeks from my marathon, I read up on strength training DURING marathon training (on Active articles, Jason Fitz’s Strenght Running, Jeff’s Runners Connect and more). These were simple short exercises that isolated muscle groups and worked to “activate” them. So glute exercises were meant to activate the glutes – often dormant in many of us to the point that we are quad dominant when we run/bike/squat/lunge. The key to these exercises are slow and controlled. And the beauty – they only take 15minutes of my day, and I can do it even in work clothes! 

Like with anyother program, I want to start easy and build up. And I’ve found this routine to be perfect for me to start off with. I plan to do these for a month, 3 days/week and then move to the second step in mid February. Disclaimer: I’m not a professional and I do not claim to have any expert knowledge. This routine is what I’ve been using.

In Marathon/Tri Training Season and just starting out on your strength training routine? I started with these 5 Simple Exercises to Strengthen Hips and Glutes.

1. Planks

Lie on your stomach and prop your weight on your forearms and toes. Keep a straight line from your head to your feet, and hold this position for the entire exercise. Repeat on each side. I do these for 2-3 sets of 20 seconds each

2. Clam Shell 

Once you are comfortable, you can add a resistance band.

3. Leg Lifts  

Supine Leg Lift: Lie on your back with your weight on your elbows and heels. Lift your hips and keep a straight line from your toes to your shoulders. Lift one leg about eight inches off the ground, hold for several seconds, and repeat with the opposite leg.

4. Bridge

Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips so there is a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Extend one leg straight out, hold for several seconds, then put it back down on the ground and repeat. Make sure your hips don’t dip and don’t allow your butt to sag to the ground.

5. Modified Bird Dog

In a table position, lift your left arm so it’s parallel to the ground. At the same time, lift your right leg so your thigh is parallel to the ground and your shin is perpendicular. Your knee should be bent at 90 degrees and your glute muscles activated. Hold for several seconds and switch sides.

How did I settle on this routine?

A few weeks ago, I had a scare when I discovered a sore spot around my knees. (I call it a scare because I take anything other than normal overall fatigue seriously. I do not run or train through pain or isolated sore areas.) My usual call is to run to my sports chiropractor, but without my insurance covering a visit, I hesitated. Especially as I could feel the soreness everytime I moved my leg beyond a certain range of motion. I took a day’s rest and gave my hips & glutes some TLC and foam rolled it. I could immediately see the difference the next day – that back pain that I’d wake up with every morning had decreased significantly. 

And therein, I self diagnosed. My hips and glutes were tight and were also weak. So that was radiating down to my knees. (This wasn’t a ground breaking or quack diagnosis. I’ve had my sports chiropractor tell me as much in the past when I’ve had similar issues – It’s all in the hips.). With an all important London Marathon coming up, I knew I needed to get down to business and work on this. Like I mentioned, in the past I’ve gone to my chiropractor and massage therapists, but I also know that care starts with me. So with the nudge I needed from my insurance and a talk with my chiropractor, I started on a basic routine of simple exercises to strengthen hips and glutes; and core, since everything starts from the core.

Let’s pause for a minute and talk strength training. 

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 6.17.20 PM

When I think strength training, my mind immediately goes to weights. While I love a good weight training routine, my issue has been with juggling weight training with my marathon (or tri) training. Since I’m not a ninja who can straight up get up and run 8-10 miles easy (I know plenty of people who can do that!), I have to run and build up my mileage for the marathon. To run a marathon, I need run specific training. Anytime I’d do weights, I’d be so sore the next two days that my runs were miserable; when my running was speedwork, it didn’t feel right to run speed on fatigued legs. 

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 6.19.59 PMSo starting a routine with weights when I’m only 12 weeks out from my marathon wasn’t a smart idea.

I turned my thoughts to this idea that I came across as I kept searching for “strength training for runners and triathletes” and I read a lot about strength training DURING marathon training. These were simple short exercises that isolated muscle groups and worked to “activate” them. So glute exercises were meant to activate the glutes – often dormant in many of us to the point that we are quad dominant when we run/bike/squat/lunge. The key to these exercises are slow and controlled. And the beauty – they only take 15minutes of my day, and I can do it even in work clothes! 

What do you do to strengthen your hips and glutes? What do you do during your off-season and during your peak season?
Does your strength training target certain areas or are you into overall strength training or no-strength training focused on endurance sports?

I’m joining the Friday Five Link Up hosted by DC area bloggers Eat Pray Run DCMar on the Run and You Signed Up For What?! and And Jill for Fitness, Health & Happiness Link-Up! 

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  • So back in October I fully injured myself, and my PT said that it was weakness in my hips and glutes. He gave me exercises to do each day, and these were the exact same exercises! I really need to keep doing them even though I’m back to running because my hips need to get waaaay stronger. Thanks so much for sharing what you’re doing to get stronger!

    • It’s good to know that I’m not off in picking up these exercises. Combining it with foam rolling, I’m really seeing results.

  • Pam

    I’m dealing with an IT band injury at the moment and I am doing some of the exercises you listed to improve my strength. I also started working with a trainer and I love that he is so helpful.

    • Bummer on the ITBS 🙁
      The correct knowledgable trainer will help a lot. Good luck and hope you kick it soon!

  • Rachel

    Something’s in the air with all these injuries… everyone I know has something going on! Eek. Hope your strength work helps!

    • I know right !! Looks like over enthusiasm from us to do a lot more before our bodies are ready.

  • Lisa@runningoutofwine

    This is a great selection of exercises. I have done all of these at some point while dealing with running injuries! I still try to incorporate them into my workout routine whenever I can.

    • That’s awesome that you still do them. I’m hoping that this is my wake up call and I continue with them.

  • I have to try the supine leg lift! I try to do clamshells at least once a week and the other exercises are really great too. Having weak hips is a big problem for me!

    • Supine leg lifts are HARD for me!! I started for a few weeks using a balance ball so I could rest my neck/shoulders on the ball while attempting leg lifts.

  • jillconyers

    I target total body with strength training. Strong and aligned hips are crucial for injury prevention.

    Thanks for sharing with Living a Life of Fitness Health and Happiness. Have an awesome weekend!

    • I’m just slowly entering the world of strength training. I’m doing these bodyweight moves until my marathon and then learning more!

  • Kristen

    Great post! Hip-glute strengthening has been huge for me over the past year. I herniated a disc last spring while marathon training, L5-S1 and more recently have been having some sacroiliac joint issues. Currently I’m working with a personal trainer on functional fitness and stabilization to build a solid foundation to keep me injury free in the year ahead. Last year I really slacked on the weights so I think it will make a huge difference down the road!

    Keep it up!

    • Ouch!! Hope you are feeling better now.
      I agree with a trainer to get you a good foundation! I was planning to do that this year and then bham…signed up for the marathon again. I have to start back on weights after the marathon training is done.

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  • Tricia Barber Vaughn

    I love that these do not take up a lot of time which will help me to do them on a more regular basis! Thanks Smitha! Shared!!!

  • Courtney

    all great exercises! strengthening those muscles is super super important!!

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