How to Strengthen the Hip Rotator Muscles

How to Strengthen the Hip Rotator Muscles

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Strong hip rotators can help your golf swing.

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images

Six small muscles on the outside of each hip, appropriately known as the external rotators, work to rotate your hip externally. Your hip abductors rotate the hips internally. For example, if you sit on a bench with your feet on the floor and you move your right foot to the left -- while keeping your thigh in place -- you're rotating your hip externally. Moving your right foot to the right rotates your hip internally. Perform a variety of hip rotation exercises to keep your workouts interesting and avoid a fitness plateau.


Perform a five- to 10-minute aerobic warm-up. Take a quick walk or ride an exercise bike to raise your core temperature before your main workout.


Stand midway between high- and low-cable machines to do a cable push-pull exercise for your internal and external rotators. Turn your back to the high cable and assume a split stance with your left foot in front of your right. Hold the high cable in your right hand, next to your side. Grasp the low cable in your left hand with your arm angled forward about 45 degrees. Rotate your hips as you pull the low cable diagonally until your hand is next to your left shoulder. At the same time, push the high cable forward and down until your arm is extended and angled roughly 45 degrees to the floor.


Perform hip clamshells to work your abductors by lying on your left side with your right hand on your right hip and an exercise band around your lower thighs. Lift your upper leg against the band's resistance while keeping your feet together.


Target your external rotators with cable rotation exercises. Perform a seated version by sitting with your feet on the floor in front of you and your left side pointed toward a low-cable machine. Attach the cable to your left ankle and move your foot up and to your left to assume the starting position, making sure the cable is taut. Hold your lower left thigh and keep the thigh in place as you pull your left foot behind your right leg, against the machine's resistance. Do the lying exercise face down with your left side toward the machine. Flex your left knee so your shin is vertical and then pull your cuffed left foot to the right, again keeping your thigh in place.


Raise a kettlebell straight above your right shoulder do windmills. The exercise works external hip rotators such as the piriformis, plus your glutes, which are internal rotators. Stand with your right elbow locked and your feet angled to your left. Rotate your hips to the right as you reach down and touch the floor with your left fingertips, just inside your left foot, while keeping both arms straight. Your arms should form a fairly straight vertical line with the kettlebell on top when you touch the floor. As you progress, touch your palm to the floor. Reverse sides to work your left hip.


Work your abductors with a seated hip abduction machine. Sit with your back against the machine's back rest, the soles of your feet on the footrests and the outsides of your legs against the insides of the resistance pads. Simultaneously press both legs laterally against the pads to separate your legs as far as you can.


Work your hip rotators at least twice each week, but not on consecutive days. Do eight to 12 repetitions of weighted exercises or 15 to 20 reps of the clamshell. Repeat single-leg exercises to the opposite side. Increase your weight load when 12 reps becomes too easy. Increase the clamshell's challenge by using a tighter band.

Things Needed

  • High- and low-cable machines with handles
  • Circular exercise band
  • Kettlebell
  • Abduction machine

Resources (1)