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Warmup Plan: Targeting the Hips

by Christy Stevenson on Sep 21, 2017

Eager class participants want to tap into their highest potential, and group fitness instructors have been acknowledging this by offering workouts that are more explosive, more powerful and fuller in range than ever before. However, intense, dynamic workouts demand a warmup that truly prepares the body. Specifically, you must target the hips—hip flexors, piriformis, glutes and hip rotators—to avoid possible tweaks from all those lunges, squats and burpees (not to mention repetitive stress from cycling and running).

Generate some heat with traditional warmup moves like marches, step-touches and hamstring curls, and then teach the following focused exercises. While the moves are simple, they may be eye-opening for your participants, who may finally grasp how important their hips are (and perhaps how much they’re lacking in strength). Ensure that attendees are better prepared for vigorous, full-range exercises as well as the many demands of daily life!

Limbering Lunge Variations

  • Step one foot forward, one foot back, in traditional lunge stance, then gradually slide toes as far back as possible. Sink into deep runner’s lunge.
  • Maintain length in spine and keep abdominal muscles softly engaged. Gently lift and lower hips to the music’s beat.
  • Rest hands on hips or quadriceps (if flexible enough, people can rest hands on floor).
  • Lift and lower hips for 8 counts, breathing into hip flexors and glutes. Front knee stays over ankle or toes.
  • Optional: Hold at deepest stretch and add gentle spinal twist for a few deep breaths.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Figure-Four Chair Pose Squats

This standing exercise releases tension in the piriformis while warming up the calves and thighs. It requires some balance, so cue participants to use a barre or wall, if necessary.

  • Begin standing, feet hip-width apart.
  • Balance on right leg while lifting left knee.
  • Gently cross left ankle over R thigh while sinking into chair pose, opening L hip. Keep feet active.
  • Stretch arms forward, interlacing fingers. Rise for 2 counts and lower into squat for 2 counts.
  • Repeat 4x; hold for a few breaths and switch sides.
  • Maintain length in spine throughout movement. Remind participants not to round upper back.

Sit to Stand on BOSU® Balance Trainer or Bench

This functional move may be harder than expected for some, and it’s a great way to assess hip range of motion and tune in to the lower kinetic chain.

  • Begin seated on BOSU dome or 12- to 16-inch step bench, feet hip-width apart on floor.
  • Cue class to steadily rise to standing (4 counts up), then return to sitting (4 counts down), while keeping knees and hips tracking in line with feet.
  • Keep spine long, chest lifted.
  • Ask participants to pay attention to any struggle they might observe, particularly during lowering (eccentric) phase.

For a Standing Knee to Chest With Internal/External Rotation exercise, please see “Hit the Hips!” in the online IDEA Library or in the September 2017 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.

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About the Author

Christy Stevenson

Christy Stevenson IDEA Author/Presenter

Christy Stevenson, fitness writer/presenter and owner of the YouTube channel Real Fit for Real Life, has been teaching group fitness classes for 17 years and has certified with AFAA, ACE, and FiTOUR in Group Exercise, Yoga, Pilates, Kickboxing, Stability Ball Training, Group Barbell Conditioning, Core & Functional Training, and Personal Training. She has also certified with Reebok University in Coreboard Training & Body Training Systems RPM, a pre-choreographed cycling program, as well as Zumba® & TRX. She has taught virtually every land aerobics class format that exists, including specialty classes such as Go-Go Robics, Teen Sports Conditioning, Strollercize, Shakti Running, and Senior Strength and Stretch. Prior to moving to CT, Christy served as the land aerobics supervisor at American Fork Fitness Center in UT for over 4 years, designing a new schedule to meet the needs of expansion, doubling class sizes, and growing strong Yoga & Indoor Cycling programs. She tries to inspire the world to fitness by voluntarily teaching church & school groups, planning and promoting fundraising fitness campaigns, designing a personal training program for overweight children, and teaching yoga in schools. Christy has run 10 Ragnar relays, several half marathons, 7 marathons, and one sprint-distance triathlon. Christy graduated from BYU in 1998 with an English Teaching major and Theatre Arts minor & has taught 7th, 8th, and 11th grade. Her education background lends to her dynamic ability to lead instructor workshops, as well as her ability to bring fitness to youth ages. She is a freelance editor and writer and contributes to the prestigious IDEA Fitness Professional Journal & American Fitness. Christy is married to a wonderful husband and is the mother of 3 awesome and fit kids.