This weekend’s challenge builds the hip joint and, as an added benefit, helps tone the muscles of your waist to get rid of “love handles.” It’s called the Triple Action Hip Builder because it directly targets the hip in three ways: by strengthening the iliopsoas muscles, building bone in the pelvis (including the crucial femoral neck), and enhancing flexibility in the pelvic area.
All of these factors play into the larger goal of preventing dangerous hip fractures, so let’s get started!
It’s well known that pelvic fractures are some of the most devastating types of fracture. The reason is not so much because the pelvis is large, but because it is so central to the upright stance and gait that is unique to humans.
A pelvic fracture means your central, structural support is compromised, and recovery is difficult. “About 50% of patients who lived independently before sustaining a hip fracture are unable to regain their independent lifestyle,”1 a sobering fact that speaks volumes about the importance of movement and muscle strength in preserving and restoring hip joint integrity.
That’s because the hip joint (or acetabular joint) is not only central to your skeletal structure, but it’s also rather complex. The acetabulum itself, commonly known as the hip socket, allows the head of the femur to swivel smoothly in all directions. This is what allows you to squat, step to the side, walk up and down stairs, ride a bicycle, lunge, lift your leg to the side…the list goes on and on. The hip joint is highly articulated, and a complex ligament and muscle structure is required to support and activate this articulation.
One of the keys to this incredible acetabular articulation is the femoral neck, a “bridge” of bone between the top of your femur (greater trochanter) and the femoral head (the ball of the ball and socket joint).
If you have ever taken bisphosphonates, then you should be aware that this bridge of bone is more susceptible to fracture after taking the drugs. It’s the femoral neck that most often snaps in the “atypical fractures” associated with bisphosphonate use.2
The femoral neck must be both strong and flexible to bend with the various twists and turns we make with our legs and hips. In addition, the femoral head and the socket are lined with thick cartilage that reduces friction and facilitates motion and weight distribution without fracture.
The joint is further stabilized by ligaments and muscles that hold the femur in the socket while allowing a remarkable range of motion. One of these muscles is the iliopsoas, or psoas.
The iliopsoas is a muscle group made up of the psoas major, the psoas minor, and the iliacus. Together, these muscles form the deep muscles of the hip flexors.
If the psoas muscles are weak, then pelvic instability and imbalance can result. In addition, weak psoas muscles are not putting healthy, bone-building stress on your pelvic bones that stimulates new bone growth. To help prevent fractures, it’s important to build up both the bone and the muscle strength in this area.
As you perform today’s exercise, you’ll be strengthening the psoas muscles, and you’ll also be tapping in to the muscles at the base of your waist and lower back, where “love handles” tend to form. You’ll see that when you do the Triple Action Hip Builder, you will certainly feel those muscles!
Here’s how to do it.
Stand next to a stable surface such as a wall, window sill, or sturdy chair back.
- Place one hand on the stable surface (for the sake of clarity, we’ll say your right hand).
- Lift your left leg and hold it level, bending your knee at approximately a 90-degree angle. The line from your hip to your knee and from your knee to your ankle should be as level as possible.
- Raise your left arm up above your head.
- Keeping the bend in your knee, raise your leg up and bring your left elbow down slightly toward your leg at the same time.
- Bring your leg back down a bit, but don’t straighten it or put your foot down. At the same time, raise your left arm back up over your head.
- Repeat steps 4 and 5, lifting your bent leg and bringing your elbow down slowly. Repeat for eight to 10 lifts.
- Be distinct and controlled in your movements. Don’t “flop” or flail as you lift your leg and arm.
- Keep one hand on the stable surface throughout the exercise.
- If you can only do one or two lifts, don’t worry; do one or two regularly until you and do two or three.
- Keep the bent leg up throughout the exercise. Don’t put your foot down or straighten your knee.
To further work the hip flexors, try following this exercise with another Weekend Challenge, the Hip Flexor Strengthener.
Both of these challenges also work well in conjunction with the many hip-strengthening exercises in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System. Among the 52 bone-building moves in Densercise™, you’ll find many that are devoted to building pelvic strength.
For example, Wall Squats (page 21) work the upper legs while helping to flatten and stabilize the back as you press against the wall. In the Imaginary Jump Rope (page 23), you’ll use the power of impact to build strength in the hip joints.
Remember, if there are any exercises you can’t do because of certain health conditions, not to worry – there are so many options and so much variety that you can easily substitute one exercise for another, and still work the same general area.
How did you like the Triple Action Hip Builder? Please feel free to engage the community by leaving a comment below.
Have a great weekend!
1 Castronuovo, Esmeralda, et al. “Early and late mortality in elderly patients after hip fracture: a cohort study using administrative health databases in the Lazio region, Italy.” BMC Geriatr. 11.37. (2011). Doi: 10.1186/1417-2318-11-37. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3162886/
2 Rizzoli ,R., et al. “Subtrochanteric fractures after long-term treatment with bisphosphonates: a European Society on Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis, and International Osteoporosis Foundation Working Group Report.”Osteoporos Int. 2011 Feb; 22(2): 373–390. Published online 2010 Nov 18. doi: 10.1007/s00198-010-1453-5 . Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3020314/
Comments on this article are closed.
Good exercise. If one has taken the bisphosphates, does the chance of the hip neck snapping decrease with the number of years you are off the horrid Fosomax drug, or do we live with that fear forever?
Dexa scan reported osteoporsis in spine and hips, ostepenia in hands. Have pain in hands, arms and some hip soreness so I take a lot of ibuprofen.Could scan be wrong?
Thanks for this exercise. Looks good in the picture, feels good when doing it, not completely clear about how exactly to do it.
Help! Was diagnosed with osteoporosis..
Hi Vivian, I have osteoporosis, I’m 63. I’m wondering how much calcium & D3 I need per day & also is there anything else I should take to build my bones other than your wonderful strengthening exercises? I’ve had 3 fractures in 3yrs. Thank you.
Take 800 to 1200 mg per day of calcium spaced out into at least two doses.
Vitamin D deficiencies are common. Get a blood test to determine your need. If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, aim to be in the high end of normal range. Many doctors will advise you to take more than RDA to reach and maintain a good level.
What is better for my D3 deficiency 1,000 iu serum or D3 1,000 iu tabs Mayo? Thanks
Do you take TrueOsteo Advance Bone Support and how long does it take to work?
How expensive are supplements
I am now taking TrueOsteo Advanced Bone Support. Should I be taking anything else
to increase bone density? I hope this works because I have had bad readings on dexa
tests. Now I hope 2 years of this plus weight bearing exersizing work for me.
This is a wonderful exercise! The psoas muscle is so vital to good posture, hip strength, flexibility as we age, etc. I had a hip replacement 10 years ago and still do this exercise. Start out easy and work up to several reps.
Thank you Vivian for all you do for us savers. What would we do without you? God Bless you.
i have a hip replacement. Do you have any exercise routine for this ?
I have been taking 1200 mg ADvaCal Intensive that has calcium hydroxide and calcium oxide and 1700 IU vitamin D3 every morning and bedtimes from Lane Labs and hoping it will help me. I will have to wait one more year before taking another bone density.
I think you will need more than the calcium & vitamin D (if you read more of Vivian’s advice on this). I take magnesium (+ rub magnesium oil onto my skin as I find too much oral magnesium too much of a laxative), boron and vitamin K2 in addition to calcium & vit D. Apparently the K2 helps the calcium to stay in the bones and not get deposited elsewhere in the body.
Good luck with it all.
This exercise feels like it is really working some tight muscles! My question is that when I try to lift my bent leg my whole pelvis seems to want to rock to get the leg up. Should I restrict that rocking motion and instead just try to isolate the bent leg, keeping the standing leg at straight and still as possible? I think this will help clarify the right way to do the exercise for everybody. Thank you!