Standing Hip Extension Exercise Guide
The hip extension belongs in the isolated, single-joint exercise category because only the hip joints are mobilized during the movement. Nevertheless, the hip extension recruits muscles in addition to the gluteus maximus: the hamstrings and the lower back. However, standing hip extension is the subject of two widespread misconceptions: (1) it does not reduce localized fat, and (2) it barely works the gluteus maximus at all.
Hip extension can be performed in prone, kneeling, and standing position. To perform standing hip extension you can also use an elastic band, an ankle cuff weight, or an ankle cable attachment to increase the resistance. Independent of equipment and position, follow the same stabilization, alignment, and exercise range-of-motion principles as described bellow.
Exercise Instructions – Proper Technique
STARTING (INITIAL) POSITION (SETUP): Stand on one leg with the other slightly forward and position the roll against the calf halfway between the knee and the ankle. The axis of the machine is in line with your hips, which should be flexed slightly. Lean your torso forward slightly and grasp the handles with straight arms and slightly flexed elbows. This is your starting position.
MOVEMENT (ACTION): Push the thigh back until the hip is hyperextended. Hold it in the top position for a second (while squeezing your buttocks together as tightly as possible) before lowering the leg to the starting position. Extend the hip actively as far as can without deviating from the set-up position. Complete the desired number of repetitions. Once you have finished a set with one leg, move immediately to the other leg.
Most hip extensor machines can be adjusted for a larger range of motion. The larger the range of motion, the more the glutes are involved. Machines that require you to lie down generally work both legs at the same time. Machines that require you to stand work one leg at a time. Whether standing or lying, as long as the hip has a long range of extension, your glutes will get the necessary work.
Machines called butt blasters add extra resistance on the soles of your feet to render the exercise more intense and more effective. Note that there is a difference in the movement because the knee joint is mobilized. As a result, in addition to recruiting the glutes and the hamstrings, the quadriceps also come into play.
Standing Hip Extension Additional Tips & Tricks
- Do not allow the hip to rotate outward or inward, and avoid trunk rotation.
- Maintain neutral spine posture and do not lean excessively forward (you can lean your torso forward slightly).
- Perform both the concentric hip extension and the eccentric hip flexion with control and maintain proper body alignment throughout the exercise.
- Always return slowly and under control to the start position.
Muscles Engaged in Standing Machine Hip Extension
Standing hip extendion mainly works the gluteus maximus and, to a lesser extent, the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and the long head of the biceps femoris.
Main muscle group: hamstrings
Secondary muscle groups: gluteus maximus and medius (rear), great adductor, piriformis, quadratusfemoris and gluteus minimus
Antagonists: iliopsoas, sartorius, front quadriceps
All of the hip extension variations are relatively similar. Their main differences relate only to the degree of resistance placed on the glute muscles and to the range of motion of the movement. Ankle cuffs, elastic bands, and machines render the movement more effective in terms of muscle toning by adding extra resistance, thereby increasing the difficulty of the movement. By lying on the floor, you increase the resistance but decrease the range of motion. By kneeling, you increase both the resistance and the range of motion.
- Low-Cable Standing Hip Extension. Stand facing a low-pulley cable with an ankle collar attached to your right ankle and connected to the low pulley. Hold the cable apparatus for support. Keeping your back straight, push your right leg back behind you as high up as possible (until the hip is hyperextended). Maintain the position with an isometric contraction for a couple of seconds. Keep your working leg as straight as possible during the movement. Return to the initial position and complete the desired number of reps. Repeat with the left leg.
- Ankle-Weight Standing Hip Extension. Wrap 5- to 25-pound ankle weights around your ankle. Stand on a 4- to 6-inch step (10 to 15 cm) with the non-weighted foot, keeping a slight bend in this knee. Stand in an upright posture while holding onto a wall or secure object. Slowly extend the working hip until your foot is about 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm) behind you. Return slowly until your weighted foot is in line with the support leg.
- Ankle-Weight All-Fours Hip Extension (kneeling variation with straight leg). Wrap 5- to 25-pound ankle weights around your ankles. Get into an all-fours stance with your head up and back straight. Extend one leg back until it is almost straight. Slowly return to the start position, keeping your knee off the floor. You can also try variation with bent knee (kneeling variation with bent leg). When you bend the leg (often called a donkey kick variation), the exercise becomes easier. When you straighten it, it becomes harder.
- Prone Hip Extension. Lie on your abdomen and support yourself on your forearms with a slight arch in your lower back. Raise your leg up.
- Superman Hip Extension. Start prone with your legs out behind you and your arms straight ahead and raise your legs and arms simultaneously. This variation also works the lower back and the backs of the shoulders.
Try these other great glute & hip exercises.
Hip-extension exercises that involve movement only at the hip joint, such as standing hip extensions, should always be done later in the workout. The easiest way to perform the hip extension is standing because the range of motion is short and gravity results in little resistance being placed on the gluteus maximus. It is the easiest exercise to perform that directly targets the glute muscles. Once you have gained more experience in weight training, you may want to move on to more complete leg exercises such as the squat or deadlift.