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Beginners to calisthenics often have starry-eyes because of its potential muscle growth, but they often overlook other extremely important aspects. One of these aspects is hip flexibility and mobility, and the stretching exercises that come with it. Performing hip stretching exercises on a regular basis will not only help prevent injury, it will also make your hip flexors (think L-Sits) and hip abductors (think the splits) much stronger. Hip flexor and abductor strength, mobility and flexibility is critical when it comes to performing advanced moves – if you don’t practice them regularly, you will hurt yourself! Try these hip stretching exercises to improve active and passive strength in and around the hips.
90-90 Hip Stretches – 10 seconds per leg OR 10 rotating reps per leg
Some people prefer to hold it like I’m doing above. Others like to shift back and forth between legs, like so. This one has helped me with hip flexibility more than I can describe. Kudos to Tom Merrick:
Cossack Squat – 10 seconds per side
You can hold onto something stable if you need to (like me). Or, just point your fingers forward if you can keep your balance.
Warrior 3 Pose – 10 seconds per leg
I am working on my form with this hip stretching exercise. Try to keep your body and lifted leg straight.
Half-Kneel Hip Flexor Stretches – 20 seconds per leg
Make sure to keep your back straight and face forward. Don’t overstretch.
Supine 4-Figure – 30 seconds per side
I love this one. You can turn your head in the opposite direction of your bent leg for extra stretching along the spine.
Child Pose – 30 seconds
This hip stretching exercise is great for beginners. You may want to include this in cool-downs after all your workouts.
Slow Knee Lifts Against Wall x10 per leg
You don’t have to use the wall, but it helps me to keep my leg from swaying to the side. You want to lift it straight up.
Squat Hold Sky Reaches – 10 reps per arm
Reach up as high as you can. I like to grab the opposite ankle for stability.
Lunge-Plank Sky Reaches – 10 reps per side
You want your bent leg angled outward just a bit – if you feel discomfort then bring that bent leg in until it goes away. Reach as high as you can.
“Good Morning” Pancakes – 20 seconds
If you can’t get to the “pancake” part of this hip stretching exercise (placing your palms on the floor), just go as low as you can with your hands together.
Don’t Forget Your Hip Stretching Exercises
You don’t have to do all of these hip stretching exercises – some can be pretty difficult at first. But if you have goals of doing the splits, L-Sits, hanging leg lifts, and other powerful calisthenic moves that require strong and flexible hips, then make it a habit to spend a few minute every day improving your skill with these hip stretching exercises. Stay safe and keep improving!
If you have any other hip stretching exercises that have help you reduce pain and prevent injury, please post them in the comments below!