What a revelation: The most unexpected body part is the undercover hero of a rock-strong physique.
Use your hips to get your best physique yet.
Say you walk into an IMAX movie about workouts and your body (bear with us for a sec). Which body part would have the leading role? Nope, not your butt. Not your abs. Not your legs either. We’re talking an area most women rarely even consider when exercising: The hips.
“Your hips are three-dimensional machines,” says physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist Mike Reinold, founder of Champion Physical Therapy and Performance in Boston. “They may seem like simple ball-and-socket units, but because tonnes of muscles cross the front, back and sides, they’re a massive networking centre of power.”
You see, your hips are one of the primary force-producing joints, involved in virtually every lower-body movement from squatting down and jumping to running and lifting. As the hinging centre of your body, they also assist in maintaining your balance throughout anything that happens above them (presses, twists, throws, you name it). And, of course, they keep you on your feet every time you sidestep or shuffle, whether over a puddle, down a curb or on the dance floor. Hence the 3D responsibility: “Optimal hips generate force when you’re moving forward or backward as well as stabilise your body in rotational, lateral and up-down motions,” says Reinold. “The problem is”—brace yourself for the climax—“few of us have optimal hips.”
Our sedentary lifestyles are mostly to blame. Sitting throws your hips into a crunched position, shortening and tightening the muscles there—namely your hip flexors, which run from your lower back to the top of your thighs and are responsible for lifting your legs. And because your hip and glute muscles are connected, there’s a snowball effect. Your glutes can forget how to fire, setting you up for a lack of stability in your entire pelvic area, which affects your core and lower-body strength too. But when you work through these issues—we’ll tell you exactly how in “The Gender Gap,” at right—you’ll reap all the powerproducing, body-stabilising potential you need to move exceptionally well, in and out of the gym. Our primer has everything you need to keep your hips in full 3D glory.