Hip pain and tight hips are both very common among triathletes and runners. Jess and I ran the NYC marathon a few weeks ago and after the race we both had, you guess it, tight hips. Even Pamela Anderson, who also ran the NYC marathon said “Those last five miles. It was like giving birth and then being told to run as you’re giving birth. It was so much pain in my hips…” (source)
If you’re running a marathon or doing a long distance triathlon, you’re hips will get tight. It’s inevitable. However, by strengthening and stretching your hips during your training, you will have significantly fewer hip problems and even prevent injuries.
In part 1 of this post, we gave you a bunch of great hip stretches to keep your hips feeling great while you swim, bike and run. In part 2, we’ll focus on some hip exercises that will help strengthen your hips so that your hip pain will be a thing of the past.
These exercises are particularly great to do during the off season, so that come spring, your hips are healthy and strong and ready to swim with more stamina, bike with more power and run with more endurance.
4 Hip Exercises For Triathletes
Single Leg Squat
The single leg squat is not only a great hip exercise for triathletes but also a good assessment to use in order to find out if you have weakness or muscle imbalances.
All you’ll do for this hip exercise is balance on one leg and squat as low as you comfortable can. If you find that your knee wobbles inward or outward, you will need to work on more exercises for stabilizing hip strength. Or, if you discover that you can’t go moderately low, you’ll need to incorporate some more triathlon strength training. Do 8-12 reps on each side and work up to 2-3 sets.
This hip exercise move will strengthen your hammies, hips, and butt making it a perfect hip exercise for triathletes. There are a couple variations, as with most any exercise, but I’m going to show you my personal favorite, and that’s because I like how it really isolates one side for strengthening and stretches the other side simultaneously.
Start on your back and slide your heels inward to bend your knees to about a 90. Cross one leg over the other with ankle on knee. Keep your top knee pressed downward to feel the stretch on the front of your hip. From here, press off the floor to raise your hips as high as you can. Then give it an extra little glute squeeze at the top before lowering. Do 12-15 reps on each side and work up to 2-3 sets.
This exercise is fashioned after what dogs do at the fire hydrant, hence the name. With that said, start this move down on all fours…like a dog. Then, lift one leg straight out to the side like, um…you know. Lift your knee high as to reach for the ceiling, almost as if there was a puppet string tied to your knee. That will target your lateral hip rotator muscles, which makes it perfect for our hip strengthening routine. Hold it at the top for a split second to really feel this exercise in the hip, then lower and repeat. Dirty Dogs will become your hips new fuzzy best friend…ruff! Do 12-15 reps on each side and work up to 2-3 sets.
To continue the animal-name theme here, this is another (nearly) self-explanatory hip exercise for triathletes. Again, from down on all fours, lift one knee off the ground so that leg is mobile. This time kick your foot back straight back to extend your knee and lift your heel high in the air. To get that added glute squeeze and better target your hips with this exercise, clinch your butt cheek at the top. Return to the starting position in one fluid motion. Do 12-15 reps on each side and work up to 2-3 sets.
Lateral Leg Lifts
Super simple hip exercise, yet super effective for triathletes, this one is harder than it looks and might leave you feeling sore for a couple days. (that would be a tell-tale that your hips are weak and need strengthening.) Start by standing and then balancing on one leg. Next, simple lift your leg straight out to the side as high as it will go. You’ll feel a distinct flexing – and maybe even cramping – at the side of your hip and at the top of your glute. Perfect. Do 8-15 reps on each side and work up to 2-3 sets.
So, for happy hips, make sure you stretch your hips after every workout and incorporate these hip strengthening exercises into your training plan. Even doing theses exercises once a week will keep your hips healthy and strong.