Hip Isolation Exercises

You have four groups of muscles around your hips, and each is responsible for controlling different movements.

Your adductors, or inner thigh muscles, enable you to move your leg inward or squeeze the tops of your thighs together. Your abductors are located on the outer thigh and gluteus area and enable you to lift your leg out to the side. Your hip flexors are your anterior thigh muscles, which allow you to walk and lift your knee up. On the back of your hip are the posterior thigh muscles known as the extensors, which are muscles you use when performing a hamstring curl.

Proper hip isolation exercises need to involve all four muscle groups for balance, strength and stability.

Home and Gym Adduction Isolation

At home, you can strengthen your adductor muscles by performing lying adduction leg lifts. Add low ankle weights to increase intensity. Lie on your side on a mat with your head resting on your folded arm. Your body should be in a straight line with your head aligned with your spine and your hips stacked vertically to the floor. Bring your lower leg a little forward on the floor. Flex your foot, and raise your leg up off the ground, pausing at the peak of the contraction and slowly returning to the floor. Perform two to three sets of eight to 10 repetitions. Repeat the sequence on the other side.

At the gym, you can isolate your adductor muscles with the seated abductor/adduction machine. Choose your plates according to your fitness level, and follow the instructions on the machine for adjusting the seat and leg pads.

Home and Gym Abductor Exercises

In order to isolate the abductor muscles, you need to perform exercises that extend the leg laterally away from the body. At home, you can do standing side leg lifts. You can add a band for resistance or low ankle weights to increase the intensity.

Stand up tall with your weight on one foot. Contract your abdominals, and slowly raise your free leg straight up to the side. Keep your knee facing straight ahead, and try not to lean in to the supporting hip. Raise and lower for two to three sets of eight to 10 repetitions. Repeat the sequence with the other leg.

At the gym, you can perform exercises with the hip abduction machine, which is the same as the adductor machine with the leg pads adjusted for outer thighs.

Home and Gym Hip Flexor Isolation

At home, you can effectively target your hip flexors by utilizing a stability ball. Lie on the floor with your head and shoulders resting on the ground. Place your hands palms-down just under your hips to support your lower back. Place the stability ball between your feet with your toes flexed back towards your shins. Squeeze the ball between your feet, exhale, and slowly raise the ball up off the floor until it is lined up over your hips. Inhale as you slowly return the ball to the floor. Perform two to three sets of eight to 10 repetitions.

To target your hip flexor area, you want to do exercises that recruit the psoas muscle. In the gym, the captain’s chair is designed for hanging leg raises. This exercise isolates your hip flexor muscles and tones your abdominal wall.

Home and Gym Hip Extensor Exercises

At home, you can effectively isolate your hip extensors using a stability ball. To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet positioned on top of the ball hip-width apart. Lift your hips up off the ground into a bridge position. Exhale, and slowly roll the ball away by extending your legs out straight. Without lowering your hips, slowly roll the ball back into the bridge position. Perform eight to 10 ball roll-outs, rest and repeat.

At the gym, there are usually a number of exercises you can do to isolate your hip extensors. The most popular machine is probably the hamstring curl. This exercise targets your glutes as well as the back of your thighs.

About this Author

Alison Stellner, owner of Body Tune Personal Training, is a fitness instructor and freelance writer with more than 25 years in the health and fitness industry. Her first professional article was published in “Idea Today Fitness Magazine” in 1993. She majored in music and business administration at the University of Oklahoma.