Hip Flexors: 3 Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening the hip flexors can help reduce hip pain in the lower back. But when is it recommended to do it? How to train them? First, you need to know these muscles and where they are located.

The hip flexors are the muscles that connect the knee to the torso. Among them, the main ones are the quadriceps and the iliopsoas, which occupy the front part of the hip and thigh.

There are also other muscles that favor hip flexion , although this is not their main function: we are referring to some hip adductors and abductors.

Why strengthen the hip flexors?

Strengthening the hip flexors helps train other muscles, which generally improves the health of the lumbar spine, hip, and knee. If this type of exercise is not yet part of your training, then we invite you to discover its benefits:

  • They reduce the chances of injury to runners, athletes and active people. Weakness in the hip flexors and adductors has been found to increase the risk of injury, according to a study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science .
  • To avoid discomfort in the back or hip. Working sitting down all day tends to weaken the hip flexors, since we don’t use them in this position. In the long term, this increases the chances of experiencing lower back and hip pain.
  • To treat back, hip and knee pain. In people experiencing pain affecting these joints, strengthening the hip flexors can ease symptoms and strengthen treatment, a 2016 study found .

For some people, stretching these muscles can be a temporary solution to a larger problem; Behind muscle tension and lack of flexibility lies muscle weakness.

If pain relief is the goal , it’s best to try both hip flexor stretches and strength exercises. The main advice is to contact your doctor or physiotherapist: the professional will show you the most appropriate exercises for your situation.

Hip flexion exercises are helpful in preventing injury and pain. In addition, they can be part of the treatment of low back, hip and knee pain.

When to work on strengthening the hip flexors?

These are the most common situations in which it is necessary to train these muscles:

  • If you feel a sensation of tension or compression in the front of the hip.
  • When you experience lower back pain, i.e. low back pain, or hip discomfort, especially after spending a long time in the same position(standing or sitting, for example).
  • If you have already tried hip flexor stretches to reduce symptoms and have not noticed any improvement; or, if the intensity of the pain has increased or if it reappears as intermittent pain.
  • If you haven’t already trained your hip flexors with strengthening exercises to relieve symptoms.

How to strengthen the hip flexors

Hip flexion should be performed against a sturdy surface, as evidenced by a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology .

Resistance can be exerted by the force of gravity, by elastic bands, by weights, to name a few. Since everything varies from body to body, focus on the correct execution of the movement.

It doesn’t matter that you do fewer repetitions than you planned: the important thing is to do them well. Also remember that this exercise does not have to speed up your breathing: you will have to breathe normally during each repetition.

3 Proper Exercises for the Hip Flexors

To perform these exercises, start with 5 slow repetitions. Each repetition should last 2-3 deep breaths. Increase the number of repetitions only after following the steps above.

Generally, it’s best to do one set of 5 to 10 repetitions every 2 to 3 hours, especially if you have back or hip pain.

In this way the muscles will remain active and it will be possible to avoid deterioration from spending too much time sitting. If you don’t feel pain, do 2 or 3 sets with the maximum number of repetitions possible .

1. Simple hip flexion

This exercise should be done as follows:

  • Lie on your back, with your knees bent and your feet firmly on the floor.
  • Place your hand in the space that forms between the lumbar spine and the floor.
  • Breathe in as you bring your knees to your chest, without squeezing your hand. In this way you will maintain the curve of the lumbar spine.


The practice of physical activity is a fundamental part of rehabilitation in the case of a herniated disc. This process should be guided by a professional.

Bringing the knee perfectly to the chest will soften the spine, this is normal. Therefore, go through the movement stopping when you feel that by going a little further you will start to crush the hand. When you return to the starting position, exhale, without increasing the space between your hand and the floor.


2. Hip flexion with the plank

This exercise is useful not only to strengthen the hip flexors, but also to work the abdominals and, in general, the stability of the body.

Before doing it , make sure that you can do the plank correctly, for at least 20 or 30 seconds. To perform the hip flexion with the plank, follow these steps:

  • Start from plank position.
  • Bring one knee to your chest without moving from plank position.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.

If you’re really struggling with this exercise you can try doing it standing up, placing your hands against a wall and holding the plank position. Or you can do it in a chair. The idea is to start from a vertical posture and then gradually bend down, until you reach a horizontal position.

With this exercise we can strengthen both the hip flexors and the abdominals.

3. The beetle

This exercise also works on the hip flexors, abdominals and general stability of the body. At first it may seem difficult , especially if you have no experience, but little by little it will become easier and you will notice the benefits day after day. It is necessary to press the lumbar against the floor and continue as follows:

  • Lie on your back, with your feet firmly on the floor.
  • Press your lower back into the floor and bring your knees upto a 90° angle.
  • Hold this position for a couple of seconds.

If so far you have managed to perform the exercise without too much effort, here are the following steps:

  • Extend your right leg as you lift yourself up with your arm on the same side, moving it in the direction of your left knee.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Do the same with the other side.

Be consistent to improve the hip muscles

Remember that these exercises have a cumulative effect. Therefore, the secret is to perform them regularly , at least once a day every day or every other day.

However, it is always better to be guided by a health professional or an instructor. Thus, thanks to your supervision and your perseverance and patience, you will obtain the desired results.