Being fit and well toned doesn’t have to mean you can’t have well-proportioned hips and retain some of those curves. After all, who doesn’t love to slip into a pair of jeans with a great looking rear view! If you are aiming at bigger hips and a curvy derriere, here are some exercises to get you there.
Before you get going, know that there are two parts to your goal. First, you need to tone up the glute muscles of the buttocks, quadriceps on the front of your thighs, and the hamstrings to the back of your thighs. Second, you can create an illusion of a bigger hipped look with a slimmer waist and well-toned abs and lower back muscles. This trick is great for anyone who just can’t seem to gain weight on their hips or wants to create the impression of having curves without putting on any extra pounds.
So here’s a quick look at the best exercises that can help your cause, starting with the trinity that directly works the muscles around the hips – your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Back that up with exercises that work the surrounding muscle groups and you could well be on your way to that sculpted silhouette!
1. Quadruped Hip Extensions To Engage The Glutes, Hamstrings, And Core
An excellent workout for your gluteus maximus (glutes or muscles of the buttocks) comes in the form of quadruped hip extensions. A study by the American Council on Exercise listed this as the exercise that resulted in highest “muscle activation” in the glutes, helping optimize their performance.1 This move also keeps your abdominal muscles or core engaged and works out your hamstrings.2:
- Get down on your hands and knees and engage your core so your abdominal muscles are contracted a little and your torso and spine stays stable.
- Raise one leg up with the knee bent to a 90-degree angle. Raise this until the base of that foot points to the ceiling and the leg itself is lined up with your body.
- Bring the leg back down. Now repeat this movement 8 to 12 times on this leg before switching sides and working the other leg.
2. Step-Ups To Work Your Glutes
Step-ups also feature in the American Council on Exercise list as one of the most effective exercises for your glutes. Here’s how can do them:3
- Grab yourself a stepper or even a stable box that’s about 15 inches high. Hold a dumbbell in each of your hands.
- Now lift your left foot up onto the step and move your weight to that leg as you do so. Push down the foot and heel and straighten your leg as you get on the top of the box.
- Your right leg must be passive during this movement. Repeat about 8 top 12 times on the left leg before switching to the right leg, keeping the left leg passive this time.
3. Glute Bridge For Your Hips And Thighs
- Lie down on a comfortable mat with your legs hip-width apart and knees bent. Your feet must be flat on the mat and your arms to your sides on the floor or mat.
- Get ready for the movement by contracting your abdominal muscles and pressing your lower back into the mat.
- Breathe out, hold the abdominal muscles contracted, and raise your hips off the mat. You should feel your gluteal muscles contract to do this. Don’t let your back arch too much.
- Breathe in as you lower your body down slowly to the floor again.
4. Squats To Engage Your Buttocks, Core, Back, And Thigh Muscles
Squats may not have come out tops in the American Council on Exercise’s study above, but that could change depending on how you do your squats. According to the researchers in the study, if you can dip your thighs lower than the traditional 90 degrees of the squat where thighs are parallel to the ground, you should be able to activate your gluteus maximus muscles more.6 Regardless of this fact, squats are a good addition to your routine to help work your leg muscles as well as back muscles and core.7
- Stand with feet slightly more than hip-width apart and toes turned out a little. Keep your arms by your sides so that your palms face inward. Your shoulders should be held back and chest must be out and up. Keep your core engaged so the spine is stable as you move.
- Breathe in and lower your hips gently. Simultaneously, move them back as you go down. Your hips and knees should have a hinge-like movement. Avoid moving your knees too far out in front by keeping that core actively engaged and back flat.
- Continue lowering until your thighs are nearly (or fully) parallel to the floor. At this point, if you are able to, you can dip lower to maximize the movement. Only do this if you don’t have a knee problem. Ideally build up to it slowly over time. Your knees should line up above the second toe on each of your feet.
- Breathe out and extend your knees and hips to raise yourself back up. Push through your heels into the floor to help the movement until you are standing again.
5. Supermans For A Super Silhouette
Let yourself have some fun with this workout as you lie face down on a mat in a “flying position” like that man from Krypton. This move is designed to work not just your hips and buttocks but your core, shoulders, and back for an overall toned look.8 Here’s how you can feel like a superhero with this move:9
- Find a good mat and lie face down on it, with your legs stretched behind you and your arms straight overhead, palms facing inward. Relax your neck and keep your head in line with your spine.
- Breathe out as you keep your core engaged and spine stable, stretching your legs away from your torso so they lift off the ground a few inches. Allow your arms to fly a few inches over the ground as well, keeping all your extended limbs as straight as possible. Take care not to flop your head down or strain it or raise it too high. This will cause your back to arch and strain it as well.
- Hold the raised pose for a few seconds before breathing in as you release both your legs and arms, bringing them slowly down to the start position on the mat.
6. Lunges For Your Quads, Hamstrings, And Glutes
Try using your own body weight for challenging lunges to work your buttocks/glutes, and quadriceps and hamstrings. Here’s what goes into a simple lunge:10
- Stand with feet together, shoulders pulled back, and abdominal muscles engaged/braced.
- Step forward with your right leg, lifting it up and pausing for a moment to retain posture and balance (so you don’t tilt to one side) before bringing it down to the ground.
- Bend both knees as far as you can, moving forward at the hips. Keep lowering your body until the front thigh is parallel to the floor. Go as far as you can do this without pain or discomfort. Your front knee must remain behind your toes.
- Push up from this position, keeping the heel of the front foot down into the ground and then straighten the leg. Leverage your buttock and thigh muscles to return to the start position.
7. Bicycle Crunches To Work Your Obliques And Hips
The bicycle maneuver or crunches done while cycling your legs in the air are among the best things you can do for your core/abdomen, especially the oblique muscles running along the sides of your torso.11 Toning this area up will help you lose that flabby waistline and get that streamlined look to accentuate your hips. It also helps work out your hips. Here’s a quick run-through of the steps involved:
- Lie down on your back with your knees and hips bent at 90 degrees. Your lower legs must be parallel to the ground. Put your fingers on either side of your forehead.
- Raise your shoulder up off the ground slowly and hold this position.
- Now twist your upper torso to your right, simultaneously pulling your right knee in as quickly as possible so it grazes your left elbow. As you do this, straighten the left leg. This produces a cycling motion as you return to the start position and repeat the movement on the other side.
Work this routine into your exercise regimen, aiming at 3 sets about 15–20 repetitions. Keep at it and you should see that well-proportioned hips and hourglass figure materialize soon!
|↑1, ↑6||Glutes to the Max. American Council on Exercise.|
|↑2, ↑3||ACE Lists Best Butt Exercises – Exclusive ACE Research Announces Most Effective Gluteus Maximus Training. American Council on Exercise.|
|↑4||Taylor, Louise. Woman’s Book of Yoga: A Journal for Health and Self-Discovery. Tuttle Publishing, 1993.|
|↑5||Glute Bridge. American Council on Exercise.|
|↑7||Bodyweight Squat. American Council on Exercise.|
|↑8||Exercise Library, No Equipment. American Council on Exercise.|
|↑9||Supermans. American Council on Exercise.|
|↑10||Beginner Bodyweight Workout. Midwest Public Risk.|
|↑11||American Council on Exercise (ACE)-sponsored Study Reveals Best and Worst Abdominal Exercises. American Council on Exercise.|