Glute, Hip and Thigh Exercises

1
Leg Press on an Exercise Ball

Leg Press on an Exercise Ball
Ben Goldstein

The leg press is a great beginner exercise targeting the glutes, hips and thighs. It mimics a machine leg press, but is easier since you're using your own body weight for resistance.

 

  1. Sit on the ball and slowly roll down the ball, walking your feet forward until you're sitting at an incline, knees bent.
  2. Place the fingertips on the floor or hold onto a wall for balance, if needed.
  3. Push through the heels of both feet (lifting the toes off the floor, if you can) and push back on the ball until the knees are almost straight.
  4. As you press up, move slowly, really engaging the muscles of the hips and thighs.
  5. Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

Tips

  • Using a smaller ball will allow your finger tips to reach the floor, guiding you throughout the movement
  • To make it harder, go slower or try the one-legged version below
  • At the bottom of the movement, keep the knees behind the toes

2
One-Legged Press on the Exercise Ball

One-Legged Press on the Exercise Ball
Ben Goldstein

This exercise is challenging to both your balance and your leg strength and endurance. Because most of your weight is centered on one leg, you'll really feel the work in the glutes and quads of the working leg. This is an advanced exercise.

  1. Sit on the ball and slowly roll down the ball, walking your feet forward until you're sitting at an incline, knees bent.
  2. Place a paper plate or glider under your left heel and straighten that leg straight out in front of you, right knee bent.
  3. Push through the heel of your right foot to push up on the ball (as in a leg press).
  4. As you press up, drag that left heel on the floor, pressing into the paper plate as much as you can.
  5. Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

Tips

  • Using a smaller ball will allow your finger tips to reach the floor, guiding you throughout the movement
  • To make it harder, lift the non-working leg off the floor instead of resting it on a paper plate
  • Keep your range of motion short at first until you feel more stable
  • Keep the knee behind the toe and try to put your weight on your heel as you press up rather than on the ball of your foot

3
Leg Lifts

Leg Lifts
Ben Goldstein

Leg lifts are one of the most common exercises for the glutes and the outer thighs and a great way to strengthen the muscles supporting the knee. This move can be done while lying down, but I prefer the standing version because it works both legs as well as the core while building balance and stability. If you're a beginner, you may want to practice the exercise without a resistance band or use a light ankle weight instead.

  1. Wrap a resistance band around the ankles, tying it so that you have tension on the band when standing with the feet about a foot apart (you may need to adjust the resistance to find what works best).
  2. Hold onto a wall or chair for balance if needed.
  3. Shift your weight to the right leg and, without tilting the torso, lift the left leg straight out the side until you feel tension on the band and a contraction in the glutes. You may only need to lift the leg a few inches.
  4. The foot should be flexed, and your hip, knee and ankle should be in alignment and pointing in the same direction (to the front of the room).
  5. Lower the leg without resting it on the floor and repeat for 1-3 sets of 12-16 reps on each leg.

Tips

  • Don't turn the leg up as you lift it. Instead keep the knee pointing forward. This will shorten your range of motion, but keep the work in the outer thigh and glutes.
  • Avoid tipping to the side as you lift the leg. Use your abs to brace your body or hold onto a chair for added stability.

4
Inner Thigh Squeeze

Inner Thigh Squeeze
Ben Goldstein

The inner thigh squeeze is one of my favorite ways to work the inner thighs because it's simple and you don't need much equipment. In this version, I show the move with an exercise ball, but feel free to use a smaller ball of the exercise ball feels uncomfortable. I also show a more advanced version, with the legs in the air. This version involves more core but, if it's too tough, keep the feet on the floor with the knees bent. Do it right:

  1. Lie down and lift the legs off the floor, placing an exercise ball (or some other type of ball) between the knees/shins.
  2. Squeeze the ball lightly to keep it from dropping and put the hands on the floor for more support.
  3. Slowly squeeze the ball, contracting the inner thighs.
  4. Release just slightly, keeping some tension on the ball.
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 12-16 reps.

Tips

  • If you find your back arching, bend the knees more or put the feet on the floor for this exercise.
  • Avoid releasing all the way, but keep a light squeeze to keep the ball in place and the inner thighs engaged.

5
Hip Lifts on the Ball

Hip Lifts on the Ball
Ben Goldstein

The hip lift is a great way to work the glutes, hamstrings and the lower back. By propping the feet on the ball, you also add a balance component which makes the exercise more dynamic and more intense. Do it right:

  1. Lie down and place the heels on the ball, keeping the legs straight.
  2. Squeeze the glutes and lift the hips up until the body is in a straight line.
  3. Keep the hands on the floor for more balance if needed.
  4. Release the hips down, barely touching the floor, and repeat for 1-3 sets of 12-16 reps.
  5. If the exercise is too hard, re-position the ball under the calves or thighs to make it easier.

6
Squat With Side Step

Squat With Side Step
Ben Goldstein

Squats are great for the glutes and thighs and you can add intensity to the movement by using a resistance band and adding a side step. Stepping to the side will involve the outer thighs and the glutes even more, making this a more dynamic exercise.

  1. Place a medium resistance band under the feet and hold onto handles with both hands.
  2. You may need to wrap the band around your hands a few times to add more tension.
  3. Take a wide step to the right, squeezing the glute as the tube tightens.
  4. Lower into a squat, knees behind toes and keeping tension on the tube.
  5. Slowly step feet together.
  6. Continue stepping to the right for 8-16 reps or the length of the room before switching sides.

7
Glute Squeezes on the Ball

Glute Squeezes on the Ball
Ben Goldstein

These glutes squeezes are great for targeting the butt as well as the hamstrings and the lower back. The key to focusing on the glutes is to lift your toes and press into the floor with your heels. You can also prop weights on the hips for more intensity.

  1. Lie on the ball with the head, neck and shoulders supported, knees bent and toes lifted.
  2. Hold medium-heavy weights, if desired, on the hips
  3. Begin the move by lowering the hips towards the floor without rolling on the ball.
  4. Squeeze the glutes to raise hips until the body is in a straight line.
  5. Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

8
Bent-Over Leg Lifts

Bent-Over Leg Lifts
Ben Goldstein

This tough exercise requires no equipment and works the hips, glutes and thighs of both legs. You'll engaged the hips and thighs in the standing leg, while working out glutes and outer thigh of the working leg. The abs and back are involved as well because you're in a bent over position.

  1. Place hands behind the back and tip forward until back is parallel to the floor and flat, abs braced.
  2. Take left leg out to the side, resting on toe.
  3. Squat with the right leg while simultaneously lifting the left leg a few inches off the ground in a leg lift.
  4. Bring the left toe back to the floor and straighten the right leg, repeating for 8-16 reps before switching sides.

9
Squat with Inner Thigh Lift

Squat with Inner Thigh Lift
Ben Goldstein

This dynamic exercise targets the hips, glutes and thighs of both legs. By squatting with one leg and adding an inner thigh lift with the other, you target multiple muscles while working on balance and stability. With this move you'll need a way to attach a band to a sturdy object or you can use a cable machine at the gym. You can also wear ankle weights if the band doesn't work for you. Take your time with this move and really concentrate on what you're doing.

  1. Secure one end of a band to a sturdy object near the floor and loop the other end around the right foot, standing with the right side of the body towards the band.
  2. Step far enough away that there's loose tension on the band.
  3. Begin by stepping out to the left, lowering into a side squat.
  4. Keeping the weight in the left leg, push back up while bringing the right leg diagonally in front of the body, focusing on the inner thigh.
  5. Take the right leg back to the side while squatting with the left, repeating for 10-16 reps before switching sides.

10
Seated Outer Thigh Taps

Seated Outer Thigh Taps
Ben Goldstein

Seated outer thigh taps are a great way to work the outer thighs and hips from a seated position. You can use a resistance band loop or tie a regular band around the mid-thigh to create resistance. You'll want to keep tension on the band throughout the movement, so don't tie it too loose.

  1. Sit tall in a chair or on a ball and tie a resistance band around the mid-thighs so that there's tension when the legs are slightly apart.
  2. Take the right foot out, as though you're stepping to the side (while still seated) and tap the floor.
  3. Bring the right foot back and take the left foot out to the side, tapping the floor.
  4. Continue alternating tapping the right and left foot out to the side for 16-20 reps.
  5. Keep the abs engaged throughout the movement and try to keep the non-working leg stable as the other leg moves.

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