Healthy Hips Part III – Simple Strength Training that Anyone Can Do

By Keith Scott, MS, ATC, CSCS



In this installment, I am going to list very simple, basic exercises that anyone can do to help keep the hips healthy. This article will briefly cover strength training for and around the hip complex. Plug these exercises into your routine to help keep strong, healthy hips. These exercises are meant to be simple and things that you can do at home, even if you do not have a lot of equipment.


Remember, this is a basic list. There are plenty of other exercises that you can do too. Start with these and move up from there.



  1. Squats – Whole body exercise that should already be part of your program. Make sure to incorporate one-legged squats into your training.


  1. Dead lifts – This is another exercise that will work the entire body as well as focusing on the hip complex. Make certain to keep a straight, neutral back. Perform these with your knees bent slightly to about 20 degrees. Pitch your butt tight as you extend (up movement) your hips. This is one of the best exercises out there for many things, but essential for a healthy hip complex! If you are not certain you can do these next to perfect, find someone that can help you do the correctly.



  1. Russian Hamstring Curls – Start on your knees with a partner holding onto your ankles from behind. While trying to keep the hip extended and the back in neutral, slowly lean forward from the knees, using the glutes to keep the hips straight. Lean forward as far as your hamstring strength will let you, ultimately aiming for at least a 45 degree angle. If possible, pull yourself back upwards. If you cannot do this, then fall to the floor carefully and catch yourself in the push up position. This is an extremely tough exercise and may take a while to get it. Since you will be producing an eccentric load while doing these, limit this exercise to once a week.


  1. Band Walks – Get a theraband or theratubing and tie the ends together. Place your feet into the newly made circle. Open your legs and make the band tight. Walk side ways across the floor very slowly and deliberately while fighting against the resistance of the band. Come back across the room working the other side. Do this with your knees bent and then perform with your knees straight.




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6 Responses

  1. Dan says:


    How much influence do the hips have in performing squats correctly? I have never been very good about getting lowering a weight to the point where my upper thighs are parallel to the ground. Some of this comes from probably overdoing the weight in the interest of showing “progress” but after reading your articles, I wondered if there might be something else going on.

  2. Keith Scott says:

    Well it can have everything to do with it. If the hips are not strong in the right places (i.e. small glute muscles on the sides, and large glute in the back) and your hip flexors are tight, it can cause you to not be able to reach a deeper squat. also if your piriformis is tight or locked up (small hip rotator found deep under the glutes) it can cause you to get less than quality results while squatting.

    I would also look at your ankle mobility. If the ankles are not mobile enough to handle a deep squat (i.e. you raise up on your toes while squatting) you need to address that issue too.

  3. Dan says:

    Hi Keith,

    I don’t think I have a problem with the ankles because lifting does not pull me up on my toes, but definitely a problem with the hips and hamstrings based on your comment. I’m going to work through the stuff you provided here and see what happens! Many thanks for your thoughts!

  4. Keith Scott says:

    Just make sure you are not leaning forward BECAUSE your ankles are tight…sometimes you compensate without knowing it thinking your ankles are fine, when really, they are tight. Not saying yours are, but something to check on. A good way to do this is to put your back to a wall and start with your feet about an inch or 2 from the wall (heels)

    Squat down, while keeping your back flat. The rules are that your back has to stay flat the whole time during the squat. Watch for your heels raising and when. This will give you a good indication of how tight you might be

  5. Dan says:

    Hi Keith! Thanks again for the tips! I walked through all three tests you noted in article 1 and the wall squat you suggested above. I was wrong about the ankles–they are really tight! The other three seemed relatively ok, although improvement is always possible. Hip flexor movement was ok, rotators pretty good, and the glutes are firing ok, but the ankles are indeed very tight. I’ll continue to use your tips in A2 and A3. I also have some of Mike Robertson’s stuff — Bulletproof Knees and Magnificent Mobility that I think has some things about ankle mobility as well. Thanks for your help and personal responses to my inquiry!

  6. George says:

    Great point bringing up the ankle issues, since the more I observe the more I realize that people who have problems squatting have extremely tight ankles. Hip mobility exercises are certainly very important, but I personally can’t seem to locate many articles or resources of any kind dealing with tight ankles/calves. It would be very helpful if one of you experts could put together a brief article discussing how ankle mobility is important in performance of the squat and deadlift properly.
    One thing that has helped myself tremendously has been the foam roller (specifically putting focus on your soleus muscle of the calf), obviously stretching the calves with focus again on the soleus, and using Nike Free’s as much as I can.
    Good Luck