What you can do

Hip extension means you’re opening, or lengthening, the front of your hip.

Having a hard time picturing this? Stand up straight and move your right thigh backward. This movement is lengthening your hip extensors.

These muscles are important because they help facilitate everyday movements, like getting up from a chair, walking, or running.

Ready to get started? Here are six exercises that focus on hip extension, complementary routines, and more.

Reminiscent of the Superman exercise, prone hip extension on a stability ball targets your lower body. This move primarily engages your hamstrings and glutes.

To get moving:

  1. Lay your stomach on the ball. Your legs will hang off the back of the ball. Put your hands on the ground in front of the ball.
  2. Using your lower back and glutes, pull your legs off the ground as high as they’ll go while keeping your core engaged and in contact with the ball.
  3. Slowly lower back down to the starting position.
  4. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps.

You’ll need a light- to medium-resistance band to do this move. If you have a longer band, you can loop it around a post or pole to aid in stability.

To get moving:

  1. Loop the band around one ankle.
  2. Maintaining a straight line in your body, pull your working leg back as far as you can while keeping your leg straight and your spine stationary.
  3. Slowly return to your starting position.
  4. Complete 12 reps on one leg, then repeat on the other side.
  5. Complete 3 sets on each side.

The bridge is a great glute-targeting exercise. For an added challenge, incorporate weights or elevate your feet.

To get moving:

  1. Lie down on your back with knees bent, your feet on the floor, and your palms facing down at your sides.
  2. Push through your heels to raise your butt and back off the ground, forming a straight line from mid-back to knee.
  3. Pause for 1 second to squeeze your glutes.
  4. Slowly lower your back down to the ground.
  5. Complete 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Lunges are great for your lower half, especially your hip extensor muscles. Hold a dumbbell in each hand if you need more of a challenge.

To get moving:

  1. Start by standing with your feet together and your arms down at your sides.
  2. Take a large step forward with your right foot, ensuring your right knee doesn’t extend past your toes. Engage your core.
  3. Push through your heel to return to start.
  4. Repeat with your left leg. This is 1 rep.
  5. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps.

Grab a mat and get to kickin’. Concentrate on your glutes and hamstrings throughout this movement to ensure you’re getting the most out of it.

To get moving:

  1. Start on all fours with your knees hip-width apart, hands under your shoulders, and neck neutral.
  2. Bracing your core, use your right glute to press your right foot directly to the ceiling.
  3. Hinge at the hip and maintain a knee-bent, foot-flat position, ensuring your pelvis and working hip stay parallel to the ground throughout.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Complete 3 sets of 15 reps on each side.

You’ll need a stability ball to try this advanced combo move.

If you haven’t tried this move before, start by focusing on the hip extension portion. You can add the leg curl later.

To get moving:

  1. Lie on your back with your calves and feet on top of a stability ball. Place your hands at your sides with palms facing down.
  2. Using your lower back and hamstrings, press your butt off the ground so that your body forms a straight line from your upper back to your feet.
  3. From this hip extension position, pull the stability ball toward your butt, performing a leg curl.
  4. Slowly lower your butt to the ground, then repeat steps 2 and 3.
  5. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps.

Incorporate these hip extension exercises into your workouts at least once a week to ensure your glutes and hamstrings stay strong.

Make sure you warm up before completing any of these exercises. Aim for 10 minutes of cardio — walking or jogging is easiest — and some light stretching.

You can also try a couple of these stretches to help loosen up your hip extensors.

While strengthening your hip extensors is important, your hips themselves are also key.

Complement your hip extensor exercises with this series of 12 moves to help keep your hips in tip-top shape.

Also worth incorporating? Foam rolling. One 2015 study found that consistent foam rolling increased hip extension during a dynamic lunge.

Practicing this mix of lower body foam rolling moves should do the trick.

Your hamstrings and glutes are both involved.

Your gluteus maximus is the primary worker, pulling your leg backward.

The three muscles of your hamstrings — the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris — aid in the movement.

In many ways! Hip extension occurs when you walk, run, stand up from a seated position, or climb the stairs. Any movement that lengthens the front of your hip is considered hip extension.

Hip extension exercises are important because your hip extensor muscles — the glutes and hamstrings — are major movers for your body.

Strong glutes are key for pelvic alignment and lower back support. Strong hamstrings help you run, walk, and jump.

Hip extension is a vital part of daily activity. Strengthening the muscles that aid in that movement will make life easier. You’ll reap aesthetic benefits from consistent completion of these exercises, too — a bonus!

Nicole Davis is a Boston-based writer, ACE-certified personal trainer, and health enthusiast who works to help women live stronger, healthier, happier lives. Her philosophy is to embrace your curves and create your fit — whatever that may be! She was featured in Oxygen magazine’s “Future of Fitness” in the June 2016 issue. Follow her on Instagram.