There are many different muscles of the Hip Flexor, so if you really want to strengthen the whole muscle group, you need to utilize not only compound exercises, but also isolation exercises. Additionally, if you’re coming back from a Hip Flexor injury you may need to target a specific muscle rather than the whole group.
Compound Hip Flexor Exercises
The name compound comes from the fact that these movements will strengthen multiple muscles at the same time. They are typically more difficult and tiring, but a more efficient way to hit multiple muscles in the same area. They are often very useful as part of a Hip Flexor treatment plan.
Most people don’t realize that squats involve the hip flexors quite heavily, both for movement and stabilization. They actually work the majority of the Hip Flexor muscles, which makes them excellent for general strengthening.
1. Stand comfortably with your feet about shoulder-width apart, your feet can point out a little if needed.
2. Keep your lower back straight and ‘sit’ down as far as you can go (hint: looking at the top of the wall in front of you will make it easier to keep your back straight)
3. Pause at the bottom and stand back up. Try to push your hips forwards while standing instead of just pushing your glutes up by themselves.
Most of these are isolation exercises in that they target one part of the Hip Flexor, although that may be multiple muscles still. If you feel any pain in your Hip Flexors at any time, stop immediately.
Iliopsoas Strengthening Exercises
The idea behind these movements are to mimic the movement of lifting your leg to activate the Psoas and Iliacus.
Hanging Leg Raises
If you go to most gyms there should be a simple machine for this or you can hand on pull-up bars.
1. Start by comfortably holding yourself up
2. With your legs straight and held together, slowly raise them out from your body. Go as far as you can without breaking your form.
3. Slowly let them drop, your muscles still get worked if you do this in a controlled manner.
Resistance Band Leg Raises
One way to target the Iliopsoas in a very natural way is to lift your leg as you normally would, but add resistance in the form of a band. Here’s a video that breaks down the very simple technique:
Another great exercise for the Iliopsoas are V-ups. These are a lot like leg raises, but also work the upper abdominals a bit.
1. Lie down flat on the ground
2. Without cheating by swinging your body, lift both your legs and upper torso as far as you can off the ground.
3. Lower back down in a controlled manner
**You can make these more difficult by keeping your arms directly above your head or by carrying a medicine ball
The Sartorius is the long skinny muscle that runs down the top of your thigh. A good way to strengthen it, along with your core stabilizers and rest of your quad are extensions on an exercise ball.
1. Start with your feet on top of the ball and your hands supporting you on the ground, face down.
2. Get into a squat-like position on the ball with your knees close to your chest.
3. Push down on the ball with your feet to extend your legs straight.
4. Lower back down and repeat.
The Pectineus and Piriformis are opposing muscles, but both important for hip flexion. They are responsible for allowing you to bring your leg in and out to the side.
If you belong to a gym with an adductor machine, you can use it to target your groin muscles, which will also hit these two muscles.
Resistance Band Work
Once again you can use the resistance band if you have one available to you. We want to mimic the movements of lifting your leg sideways out from your body, and also back in.
1. Attach resistance band to ankle
2. In a controlled movement move your leg out to the side and back in
To hit the abductors (Piriformis side), simply reverse the direction of the resistance band.
Putting These Exercises Together For a Hip Flexor Workout
The first thing you have to do is identify which of the exercises are an option for you. If you can get access to all the equipment, which is ideal, you have the most freedom with a workout.
The exercises in this article will help you decide what you should use in your strengthening workout. I’d recommend learning these exercises doing nothing but body weight, but you are free to add weight as desired when you’re comfortable with them. Note that you don’t need to, and probably shouldn’t do all of these Hip Flexor exercises in one workout, pick a few that will be the most helpful. After a workout, it’s always recommended to have a gentle stretch session, here are some awesome Hip Flexor stretches to get you started.