All month long, we’ve been discussing the mighty Plank exercise – why it rocks, how to do it, and how to do it really well.
But your core is more than just your midsection – strong, stable hips & glutes are essential to any good core program. Below are some of our favorite exercises to strengthen these bad boys.
1. The Bridge, a.k.a. Hip Extensions (glutes)
Lie flat on the floor with knees bent and feet as close to your butt as possible. Push your heels into the floor as you use the glutes to lift the hips into the air. At the top of the movement, your body should form a straight line from shoulders to knees. Lower back to start position and repeat.
Aim for 2 sets of 15-20, always squeezing the glutes to complete the motion.
To add challenge, you can try marching from the elevated bridge position, or doing single leg bridges (10-15 per side). You can also place the feet on an unstable surface, like a BOSU ball, to add a stability challenge.
2. Triple Threat (glutes & hamstrings)
This exercise has three parts. Each part flows into the next. Start by doing ten reps of Part I, ten reps of Part II, and ten reps of Part III. At first, you can rest in between each exercise, but eventually you’ll perform them all in a row. Work up to three sets.
Part I – hip extension. Lie on your back with your legs straight and heels resting on top of a stability ball. Keeping the legs straight and strong, raise the hips into the air until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to heels. (Keep your toes pointing straight up – they have a tendency to flop outwards).
Part two – hamstring curl. The starting position for this one is the ending position from Part I – heels on ball, hips elevated. Squeeze your glutes to drive the hips up while you curl your heels toward your bum. Straighten the legs to return to the start position – but keep your hips elevated throughout the exercise.
Part three – elevated bridges. The starting position for this one is the finishing position from Part II – knees bent, feet on ball, hips elevated. Keeping your knees bent and your feet close to you, lower your hips. Use the glutes to raise them back to the starting position and repeat.
Once upon a time, when my hair was really short and the sun was really bright, I made this video for Blue Ridge Outdoors, outlining the Triple Threat for runners. Enjoy!
3. Three-Way Hip
This exercise requires a cable column and an ankle cuff – and perhaps a tall stick or something to help you keep your balance. We recommend starting with 10 pounds. Eventually, 15 and even 20 pounds might be appropriate. But keep in mind these are small, precise movements, and technique is much more important than weight.
Alternatively, you can use a resistance band looped around something stable.
Move the cable attachment all the way to the bottom of the column. Attach the ankle cuff to your right ankle. Stand sideways, with your left leg closest to the column. Extend your right leg out to the side – keeping the leg super-straight and using your right “side-butt” to complete the exercise. Repeat ten times.
Turn 90 degrees to face the column. Now you’ll extend the right leg back behind you, again making sure to keep your knee straight throughout the exercise. Repeat ten times.
Turn another 90 degrees, so your right foot is now closest to the column and your left foot is on the outside. You’ll need to move away from the column a bit for proper range of motion. This time, pick up your right foot and move it across the front of your body, working the inner thigh. This is the hardest one to balance, so make sure you’re stable.
Once you’ve finished the right side, move the cuff to your left ankle and repeat all the exercises on that side.
Add any one of these exercises to your planking routine, and you’ll have the strongest core around. By the way – strong glutes almost ALWAYS help alleviate low back and knee pain. Boom.
Will you incorporate some of these moves into your daily routine? Share your thoughts in the comments below!