Importance Of Strengthening The Hip

I was recently reading the article “Importance of Comprehensive Hip Strengthening” that was published in the National Strength and Conditioning Journal and it posed a few important messages that I thought I would discuss in my blog post.

The article discussed how in strength and conditioning circles there is often a big focus on the posterior chain and therefore many strengthening exercises are often focused on hip flexion and extension (squats, deadlifts, lunges, step ups etc) that occur in the sagittal and vertical plane.  The article went on to highlight that we must remember not to forget that the hip is a joint that moves in all planes of motion (flexion,extension, abduction, adduction, internal and external rotation).  Therefore if we are wanting to truly address ones function and have them being strong in all planes of motion, that we should look at incorporating exercises that facilitate this.  The examples given in the article included isolated one planar movement exercises using bands i.e. banded hip abduction, adduction etc.  Whilst these are certainly some great ways to isolate and build strength into a plane of movement and those muscles associated with this movement, we also need to integrate more functional movement patterns.  Whilst the article doesn’t go into great depth or explanation about more functional exercises, it does mention looking at lateral lunges etc etc.

From my perspective, we could look at implementing any of the following to create a more tri plane (multiplane) reaction through the hip to ensure we are training the hip complex in all three planes of motion.  Depending on the goal, the start/finish position, load, distance, angle, speed, sets, reps etc etc can be varied to elicit the response we need.

Exercise Examples Include:

  • Lunge – Lateral, Rotational, Carioca, as well as the conventional anterior/posterior lunge.
  • Step Up – Lateral, Rotational, as well as the conventional anterior.
  • Isolated Powerband – hip abduction, flexion, extension, adduction, external and internal rotation.
  • Squats – varying the foot position to wide/narrow, internal rotation/external rotation, split stance will also create different biomechanical reactions.
  • Jumping/Hopping – Anterior/Posterior, Lateral and Rotational .

Next time you are training your hips, please remember that it is important to warm up and train them in all three planes of motion.  These could be incorporated into your movement prep with light load to get the body primed for the main workout, or they could be incorporated into the main working sets.

This article was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy.  Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne City CBD and Docklands leading osteopathy clinics.  Find out more or book online at