Weekend Challenge: Side Leg Raise Hip Builder - Save Our Bones

Before we get started with this weekend’s challenge, I would like to take a moment to wish all mothers in the Save Our Bones community a very Happy Mother’s Day. As a mother of three wonderful boys myself, I know how hard it can be to find time to take care of yourself. I sincerely hope you that you will celebrate and relax, and that this weekend will mark a new beginning of bone health and happiness!

Now on with today’s challenge, which focuses on a key area for building bone density because it’s highly susceptible to fractures: the hips.

The Side Leg Raise Hip Builder utilizes the muscles and tendons that are close to the hip joint itself, stimulating bone growth in this crucial area.

Why: Hip fractures, along with pelvic integrity, are a concern for anyone with osteoporosis, osteopenia, or even with “normal” DXA scan results. The pelvis truly is your body’s central pivot-point, combining range of motion and stability in an amazing joint structure.

Ironically, one of the hip’s strengths – its remarkable range of motion – is also its area of weakness. A certain amount of stability must be sacrificed to allow for the amount of movement your hips are capable of, so it’s of prime importance to strengthen and stabilize the joints with exercises like the Side Leg Raise Hip Builder.

The hip joints themselves are quite a marvel. Let’s take a closer look at their amazing structure.

The rounded head of the femur fits snugly into the cup-like acetabulum, or socket. To cushion the joint, the femoral head and the acetabulum are covered with articular cartilage, so called because it is intended to absorb impact in articulated joints, and it’s thicker in those areas that bear weight.

Holding the ball and socket neatly in place yet still allowing for an amazing range of motion is an arrangement of ligaments, muscles, and cartilage.

First, the acetabulum is deepened by a collar of tough, fibrous cartilage called the acetabular labrum. This effectively increases the surface area of the acetabulum, stabilizing the joint.

Three ligaments, the iliofemoral, pubofemoral, and ischiofemoral, are composed of strong tissue that help prevent hyperextension. They work to control hip joint rotation (turning the toes inward or outward), abduction (moving your leg out to the side), and extension (moving the leg out behind you). A fourth, smaller ligament, called the ligament of head of femur, connects the femoral head to the anterior edge of the acetabulum.

Interestingly, these ligaments are attached in a spiral fashion, so they actually tighten when you extend your hip joint. It’s a brilliant mechanism for adding stability and allowing you to maintain an upright position without using too much energy.
The ligaments work in concert with the anterior and posterior muscles, with the stronger muscles located where the ligaments are weakest and vice versa.

The Side Leg Raise works the abductor muscles and ligaments to stimulate bone growth deep in your hip joint.

How: To do this exercise, you’ll need:

  • A 1 or 2 lbs. dumbbell (depending on your fitness level and comfort zone, you can use a dumbbell of up to 5 lbs.) or a can of food.
  • An exercise mat or carpeted floor.

Let’s begin with the right hip.

  1. Lie on the mat on your left side.
  2. You can use a pillow to stabilize your head and neck, or simply tuck your arm under your head. If you prefer, you can rest your arm on the floor, bend your elbow, and hold your head with your hand. Just make sure your neck and head are comfortable.
  3. Bend your left knee and bring it forward, letting it rest on the floor.
  4. Extend your right leg. Rotate the toes forward and down, so the toes of your right leg rest on the floor.
  5. Place the dumbbell on the side of the hip joint of the extended leg, keeping your right hand there to stabilize the weight.
  6. Now slowly lift the extended leg, but not too high – the leg should be parallel to the floor, not in an angle.
  7. Slowly lower the leg and repeat 10 times or as many times as you can.
  8. Rest, then repeat 2 more sets of 10. Then switch sides.

This exercise will stimulate and build the bones in your hip joint, improving strength and density. As you practice this exercise on a regular basis, you can gradually increase the weight until you’re at 5 pounds or beyond. This exercise should be painless, so only use a weight that feels comfortable yet slightly challenging.

I hope you enjoy this hip-strengthening exercise! Please share your experience with the community by leaving a comment below.

Till next time,

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Leslie (Ms. L. Carmel)

    Good Afternoon Vivian,

    Again – I Hope You Had A Wonderful Mother’s Day!

    The Side Leg Raise Hip Builder Is A Very Good Weekend Challenge. Thank You Very Much For Sharing It With Us.

    And As Always Take Care, And Stay Well!


  2. Nancy

    Dear Vivian
    Doctors are still advising women to drink milk and to take the biophosphonate drugs.Is this ever going to change?I suppose Big Pharma is the reason and we have to keep on fighting this battle.Women are so set on following their doctors’ advice.
    I am so glad I read your book and am now advancing on the right road to clear my system of Osteoporosis.
    Thank you so much for all your care.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Nancy, if Mainstream Medicine is going to change, then it starts with informed people like you! The more people who are armed with knowledge and refuse conventional treatment, the more the Medical Establishment will have to take notice. 🙂

  3. Joyce

    Hope you had a very Happy Mother’s Day! Thanks again for the exercise. Appreicate your help and information — area that is strengthened and how.

  4. denise douek

    Dear Vivian ,i never put any comments why?i still wants you to know i read all your e-mails and take advantage of every suggestion whether diet exercise or medication everything makes so much sense we are lucky you can guide us through this painful journey osteoporoses ,on this very special day i wish you a very enjoyable mother’s day may you keep on guiding us in the right direction .i believe and that is a wonderful tool for healing.i honor the divine light in each one of us.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thank you so much, Denise. Happy Mother’s Day to you as well!

  5. Elizabeth

    Thanks Viviwen for the helpful advice on exercise and diet. I’ve been following the guidelines and am keeping active, exercising, running, and participating in pilates and aerobics classes. As well as this I’m monitoring my diet, using the recipes and diet tips you provide. As I was diagnosed with osteoporosis a couple of years back and am having no symptoms so far, I am hopeful that my condition has stabilised, when I go for my next DEXA scan.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Regardless of your DXA scan results, Elizabeth, you’re doing all the right things for your bones! Chances are, your bone health is excellent. 🙂

  6. Mary Gray

    Thanks for the very interesting exercise, Vivian. Could you add a little more detail?
    I’m not sure of the exact placement of the weight. Is it right over the lowest part of the groove that forms when one actually extends the leg out sideways, or below that area,
    or above it?
    Thank you for all the great ideas.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      The exact placement of the weight is actually not too important. 🙂 On the side of the leg between the hip and the knee is the general area!

  7. shula

    Thank you, Vivian, for letting us know which exercises are for general strength, and which ones are for bone-denstiy improvment.

  8. Jan D

    Thank you very much Vivian. Mothers’ day in the uk is 30th March but I’ll happily have another one today! Hope yours is a good one. My T score in the hip (-3.1) is worse than in my spine so this will be a great exercise to strengthen the hip area up. Think I’ll get some ankle weights and alternate between using them and a dumbell on the hip.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Great idea on alternating the weights, Jan. And Happy (second) Mother’s Day!

  9. Marlene

    Dear Vivian,
    Happy MOTHER’S Day ! Thank you very much for all
    your encouraging e-mails. May you have GOD’S best
    in everything. Take care always, Marlene

  10. Dorothy

    Thanks, Vivian. I hope this will be okay to lie on my bed to do. Had a pelvic fracture long ago that did not heal properly, which gives me a hard time getting up from the floor. I have tried some other exercises you gave lying on my bed and seem to do ok.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Dorothy, provided your mattress is not too soft, you can do this exercise on your bed. Stay active!

  11. Sydney

    Thank you so much for this site. I have been needing something to help me do exercises to strengthen my bones. I have let myself go from osteopenia to osteoporosis because I did not know what to do. This site is a huge help. Thank you so much and I will be sure others know of you. You are a blessing to those of us who want to help ourselves.

  12. Carolyn

    I want to thank you also Vivian for this wonderful web site community for all the osteoporosis sufferers. Your encouragement and information is priceless. You have been a real Blessing to all your readers. Thank you especially for the exercise for the FHP. It is most helpful to me. Happy Mother’s Day and God Bless you. Carolyn

  13. Fran Lapinskie

    Love these exercises. Thank you so much, Vivian for caring and showing us these exercises.
    Happy Mother’s Day .

  14. Mariana

    Happy Mother’s Day Vivian,
    It’s a shame, but I hate exercising. I’ll try to do a few of yours, the chin tuck, the shoulder squeeze and hopefully the single arm press.
    Thank you very much for your selfishness and love.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Mariana, not everyone likes to exercise… but I’m glad to see you’re trying a few bone-healthy and posture improving moves. Pay attention at how (much better!) you feel after you do them. It could very well be you’ll want to gradually do more, and eventually, you’ll love it! Keep us posted 🙂

  15. Neeta Ravikant

    Happy Mother’s Day Vivian. I find your exercises very good but I am not very regular. I wish I could do them more often. Anyways thanks for all your posts. All the best.

  16. Alice

    Thank you so much for this wonderful exercise. I am having trouble with my hips so this came at just the right time for me. I know It will help me a lot.

    Happy Mother’s Day to you and your’s.

  17. Sharron Restivo

    I have left sided sciatica and a -3.1 T score in my spine .. Will this exercise cause more inflammation in the area ?
    Happy Mother’s Day Vivian too !!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Sharron, controlled movements are really healthy, but just in case, please check with your health practitioner 🙂

  18. Marcia

    Happy Mother’s Day Vivian and all of you wonderful moms out there.

  19. Lilo

    Dear Vivian,

    Dear Vivian,

    Thanks a lot for your Weekend Challange. On the 8 April 2014 I had an operation on my hip – the femur bone was cracked and they fixed it with a big nail from the top of my hip to the top of the knee, with two smaller nails to hold the big one down. Now I am busy trying to walk with a walker without wheels. Can I do already the Side Leg Hip Raiser Excercise? I have a problem with lying on my left side, as the leg is still painfull on top where they “hit” the big and a small nail in.
    I love reading your information you are sending out. I haven’t tried the excercises yet.

    Love to hear from you, and wish you a Happy Mothersday.
    Love Lilo xxx

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Lilo, thanks for your kind words! I suggest you check with your health professional about this, especially since an exercise should never be painful. So hold off until you get an opinion from someone who knows your exact situation. Love to you and everyone in the Save Our Bones community.

  20. Shirley

    Thanks for the good wishes and same to you. I thank God for the wonderful memories of my Mom. My husband ans I now enjoy our children (6) grandchildren (16) and great- grand children (9 What a blessing they are.

    About two years ago you introduced us to Mike Ross, I still do some of his exercises along with yours, especially ones that help with balance, Good for all of any age..

    • Betty

      Who is Mike Ross? Info before my time I guess. Perhaps I could google his name.
      Thanks for all the exercises Vivian!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      What a nice big family, Shirley! And keep up with the exercises 🙂

  21. elizabeth birrell

    I do enjoy your e-mails Vivian but I was wondering if you had DVDs of your exercises as I feel it would be better for me to do the exercises in this way and to know I was doing them correctly

    best wishes

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      For now, there’s no DVD, but the Densercise System includes a video where I demonstrate each move 🙂

      • Sharon Parshall

        I urge you to produce a video of the exercises. It would be much more preferable than trying to view them on the small screen of a computer.

        • Marlene

          Vivian, please produce a DVD, it would be appreciated by many. I’m 65 and need a big screen. What about a book, that would be great as well. Thank you. Marlene Mc

  22. carla riffel

    Hi Vivian
    thanks for the exercise! I’ve been doing a similar one with an ankle weight and the leg raised a bit higher. does that do the same thing, or is this one better?

    Blessings and Happy Mothers Day to all

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      When you can raise the leg higher, you’re also working other muscles. It’s fine to do it that way, but here the goal is to isolate the muscles around the hip joint.

      • carla riffel

        what do you think about the ankle weight as opposed to the weight held on the hip?

        • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

          An ankle weight is a great idea! 🙂

  23. Carole johnson

    Hi, I do side leg extensions from a standing position. I used to do the lying down version, however developed an inflamed bursa on the hip on the floor. My question is: I have had both hips resurfaced ( in Belgium) Google to get info on this. Now, is it beneficial to step up the side leg extensions with some metal in there? There is no shaft down the femur with this procedure. My bursa inflammation is not a problem anymore. I love to exercise and lift weights. I love the leg circles for core you recommended. Great work!!! Regards, Carole knapp johnson Connecticut.

  24. Marie

    On Mother’s day, let’s take stock of our blessings. One of them is you Vivian, and this forum. Thank you very much for your dedication, for sharing your knowledge so selflessly, it is all very much appreciated by this participant.

    Happy Mothers’ day to you too, Vivian!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for your kind words, Marie! And I appreciate and thank everyone in the community.

  25. Diane

    Best to rest your head on your extended arm in order to keep your head in alignment with your spine and not put your neck in a compromising position, otherwise, great exercise.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Absolutely, Diane! The head can lay flat on the floor, which as you say, helps keep the spine aligned. But for some that may not be comfortable, so the head can be slightly elevated with a pillow, or held with the hand. Whatever is most comfortable for each one of us 🙂

  26. Doreen

    Thank you Vivian for all the great information. I Look forward to your emails. Always helpful! Happy Mother’s Day and have a wonderful summer.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Good to know you appreciate the information, Doreen! I hope you have an excellent, bone-healthy summer and Mother’s Day too. 🙂

  27. Janet ( champaign IL)

    Happy Mothers Day to you also and thank you for sharing all of your knowledge with us!! I’m the mother of three wonderful boys also and grandmother of five!! Thanks Vivian

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      There’s nothing quite like raising boys, right Janet? 🙂 I am so glad you’re taking care of your bones so you can be active with your grandchildren for years to come!

  28. Christine (U.K.)

    Vivian’s bone strengthening exercise is a fun and easy way of strengthening our bones and the illustrations and instructions are very clear to follow. Thanks Vivian!

  29. Anneli Tähtinen

    Very good point, Vivian! This part of our body is crucial for getting up and preserving mobility in older age. Thank you for a lot of good advice on bone and other health as well.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Anneli and Christine! But I am the one who is thankful for proactive readers like you. 🙂

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