By Nick Nilsson
Wider hips. it may not be the most common goal of women who train but, I can promise you, there are a LOT of women out there who would LOVE to build wider hips without putting on a lot of fat!
I'll tell you right now, it's not going to be easy but it definitely CAN be done!
But first. want to know the reason why it's so tough to increase hip width without gaining a lot of fat in the area? It all comes down to your bones.
You see, hip width (not counting fat deposits in the area) is primarily determined by your pelvis size. If you've got genetically narrow hip bones (you can thank your parents for that!), it's going to be much tougher to achieve the wider hips you're looking for.
It's the very same situation with the shoulders - if you want wider shoulders, you're limited by bone structure. You then have to focus on building the lateral delts (the side heads of the shoulder muscles) to give the appearance of wider shoulders.
But the only hitch with the hips is that there really isn't a whole lot of muscle mass available to build onto the outside of your pelvis! In that respect, it's actually EASIER to build wider shoulders with weight training than it is to build wider hips.
The main muscles that operate in the hip area (for our purposes) are the three glute muscles. the gluteus maximus (the main butt muscle), gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.
The primary function of the gluteus maximus is to bring the leg backwards (a.k.a. hip extension). It's a big, powerful muscle because this function is our primary method of moving forward! Every time you push backwards to take a step, that's the gluteus maximus at work.
But the smaller gluteus medius and minimus muscles are what we'll need to focus on to try and increase hip width. These two muscles are what's known as abductors.
Abduction is the biomechanical term for moving a limb AWAY from the midline of the body. In this case, it's moving the thigh away from the center of the body. If you're familiar with adduction (where you bring the legs in towards each other and squeeze the thighs together), it's the opposite movement.
So to widen the hips through training, we need to focus some intense work on the gluteus medius and minimus muscles. And when I say intense work, I'm NOT talking about those light pumping movements where you try and "go for the burn!"
For our purposes, those are not only a waste of time but completely counterproductive. Light weight exercises won't build hips and will interfere with the muscle-building stimulus we're going for that WILL actually build the hips. So toss "The Firm" videos back into the pile if you want to build wider hips. Those won't cut it.
If you want results, it's time to break out the dumbells and barbells and dig into some REAL weight training!
NOTE: the exercises I'm about explain are probably not familiar
to you. Be VERY sure to click on the link at the bottom and
watch the videos on
how to perform these exercises properly.
They will help you a LOT!
The absolute BEST exercise for increasing hip width is NOT an isolation abduction exercise. You may have seen abduction machines in the gym where you sit on a chair and force your legs outwards against resistance. I'm sure you've seen them. they always seem to place those machines directly across from the cardio equipment or opposite the gym entrance!
The best exercise for increasing hip width is called the Side Lunge and it can be done with a barbell OR dumbells.
But I'm not going to have you do the NORMAL side lunge. that exercise forces you to use lighter weights so you don't strain your knees. This version allows for more resistance and, therefore, more potential muscle growth and hip width!
So how do you do the Side Lunge? Well, the "normal" technique has you starting in a standing position. Then you step one foot directly out to the side (sometimes at angle forwards rather than directly to the side) and lower your body down into a lunge. You come down, bending your knee, then you push all the way back up to the standing position.
The problem with this technique is the lateral stress that gets placed on the knee when you step down to the side. The knees aren't designed to take a lot of sideways pressure - they're all about going forward and back (like a hinge). There's some room to manuever but sideways movement against momentum can be tough on the knees - just ask any running back in football!
So instead of stepping out to the side on each rep then pushing all the way back up, we're going to do it differently. You'll take that first step out to the side and plant your foot about 2 feet out. And you're going to keep it there!
If you stepped out to the right, bend your right knee and come down into a lunge position. Your left leg will be completely straight and act as a pivot. Come down until your thigh is parallel to the ground then, using hip power, push yourself back up, straightening your right leg but WITHOUT popping all the way back to a standing position where your feet are together.
Remember, we're keeping our feet in the SAME position for the whole exercise.
When you come to the top, you're now going to lunge down to the OTHER side. Come down until your leg knee is bent 90 degrees then push back back up. Again, you're NOT popping up to a total standing position - just straightening your legs. This not only spares your knees, it allows you to keep tension on the muscles better AND use heavier resistance!
You can do this exercise with a barbell or 2 dumbells. When using a barbell, just hold it across your shoulders and be careful with your balance. If you do this exercise with a barbell, it's best to use a rack so you don't have to press the weight overhead and set it down on your shoulders. Just note, you'll be doing this exercise OUTSIDE the rack (there isn't
Barbell Side Lunges In Action