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Exercises to Increase Hip Width
Narrow hips mean you've got a straight up-and-down physique and can wear just about anything. But, when you want to show off curves, you're out of luck.
Although you can't change your genetically gifted body shape, you can increase your hip width and build strength in the muscles that are essential in supporting your pelvis as you walk and run by building up your glutes. While your hips consist of many different muscles, the ones that give you volume are at your backside.
Strategies to Build Your Hips
To really get results and build bigger muscles, don't mince around with light or even moderately heavy weights. Go for the big ones. Choose weights that make you feel spent after a set of six to eight reps, and plan on doing between four and eight sets with 2 to 3 minutes between them. If you're new to training, start lighter -- but your intention is to create a foundation, so you can build up to the big weights.
If you're really hitting the weights hard, you'll need no more than one heavy lifting workout targeting your hips per week. On other days, consider doing your cardio on the step mill or a steeply inclined treadmill to tax your tush and hips. You may also have a second lower-body strength-training day that includes compound exercises that train your hips along with other leg muscles. This second workout might include moves such as lunges, step-ups and squats.
Each of the following exercises isolate your hips and prevent your quadriceps from taking over.
Master the hip bridge before doing a hip thrust. The hip thrust requires support from your erector spinae, which supports the spine, so ensure your back is healthy before attempting this move.
How to do a hip thrust: Sit on the ground with a weight bench directly behind you and perpendicular to your body Place a loaded barbell across the tops of your thighs. Inhale and roll the barbell, so it's resting just above your hips. Lean back against the bench to rest your shoulder blades on top of it.
Press your feet firmly into the floor and lift your hips up so your body is parallel to the ground. Support your weight and that of the bar with your shoulders and feet. Lower back down to complete one repetition.
Exercises to Increase Hip Width
The deadlift offers the hip engagement of a squat with less involvement of your quads. A barbell is your best option for this exercise, but dumbbells may be used for variety.
To do a deadlift: Stand with a loaded barbell on the floor in front of you. Step forward so your feet are under the bar. Squat down to grab the bar, hands placed shoulder-distance apart. Extend your hips and knees to raise the bar up, so it's in front of your thighs when you're standing. Slowly lower the bar back down to complete one repetition.
The cable pull-through works similar muscles as the kettlebell swing, but it's safer on the spine. You can also have a little more control over your hip and glute activation when you use the cable. It's also easier to learn the cable pull-through and execute it with proper form, making it more accessible to lifters.
How to do a cable pull-through: Attach a straight-bar to a cable machine and set it to the lowest height. Stand with your back to the machine and place your feet slightly wider than your hips. Lean forward from your hips, push your hips back and grab the bar between your legs. Maintain a neutral spine as you stand up and bring the cable between your thighs. Keep your chin tucked and squeeze the glutes as you stand straight up, locking out the knees. Hinge back forward and stick your butt back to complete one rep.
Andrea Boldt has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.