Hit the Hips!
Prepare an often-underappreciated area of the body for intense activity.
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 just might 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 for 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 4×; 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.
Standing Knee to Chest With Internal/External Rotation
Complete your hipcentric warm- up with this active stretch, which also strengthens the core and legs.
- Begin standing, feet hip- width apart.
- Balance on R leg.
- Lift L knee as high as possible without using arms for leverage; do not tuck pelvis.
- Hold at highest point for 4 counts; move thigh across trunk to midline for 2 counts with no assistance.
- Open knee to side for 2 counts.
- Repeat internal/external rotations 4×, then “shake out” hips, stretch piriformis and switch sides.
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