Building Better Movement: Hip-Strengthening Exercises Every Dancer Needs

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Strong hips are the foundation for powerful leaps, graceful turns, and effortless extensions. They provide stability and control, allowing dancers to move with confidence and prevent injuries. Here, we delve into some critical hip-strengthening exercises for dancers, incorporating variations for different levels.

Why Strong Hips Matter

Strong hips aren’t just about aesthetics; they play a crucial role in a dancer’s performance and health. The hip joint is a complex ball-and-socket structure surrounded by numerous muscles. These muscles work together to enable various motions, including flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, and rotation. These well-developed muscles provide better support for the spine and pelvis, leading to improved balance, coordination, and injury prevention. 

Here are some essential hip strengthening exercises for dancers, suitable for various levels:


  1. Lie on your side with knees bent at a 45-degree angle and stacked on each other.

  2. Engage your core and lift your top knee a few inches, keeping your feet together.

  3. Hold for a second, then slowly lower back down.

  4. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions on each side.

This exercise targets the gluteus medius, a critical hip abduction muscle.

Glute Bridges:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

  2. Lift your hips off the ground until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees.

  3. Squeeze your glutes at the top and hold before lowering back down.

  4. Perform 10-15 repetitions.

Glute bridges strengthen the gluteus maximus, a powerful hip extensor muscles.

Side Leg Lifts: 

Stand on one leg with your other leg extended straight to the side, keeping your hips square. Lift your extended leg as comfortably as possible, maintaining a straight leg. Lower back down slowly and repeat 10-15 times. This exercise targets the hip abductors, which help stabilize the hips during lateral movements. 

  • Single-Leg Deadlifts: Stand on one leg with a slight knee bend. Hinge at your hips, keep your back flat, and reach your other leg straight behind you, maintaining a long spine. Lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the ground. Squeeze your glutes to return to the starting position. Perform 10-15 repetitions per leg. Single-leg deadlifts work multiple hip muscles, including the glutes, hamstrings, and core. Hip Strengthening Exercises for Dancers

Progression and Variations

As you gain strength, you can progress these exercises by adding weight (ankle weights, dumbbells), increasing repetitions, or performing them on an unstable surface (bosu ball, wobble board).

Listen to Your Body

Remember, it’s crucial to listen to your body. Start with lower weights and repetitions and gradually increase as you get stronger. If you experience pain, stop the exercise and consult a healthcare professional.

Dance-Specific Hip Exercises

In addition to the foundational exercises mentioned earlier, here are some exercises that incorporate dance movements to enhance coordination and translate strength gains to your dancing:

Plié Squats with Hip Turns:

  1. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, and toes turned out.

  2. Squat down, keeping your back straight and core engaged.

  3. As you rise from the squat, turn your hips to one side, return to the center, and squat down again.

  4. Repeat alternating hip turns with each squat.

This exercise strengthens the glutes and quads and improves hip mobility. 

Arabesque Holds with Leg Pulses: Start in a standing arabesque position, one leg extended back with a flat foot. Engage your core and gluteus maximus on the standing leg to maintain a lifted torso and straight back. Pulse your extended leg up and down a few inches while keeping it straight. Perform 10-15 pulses on each leg. This exercise strengthens the hip extensors and improves core stability. 

Grand Battement Preps: Lie on your back with your legs extended straight towards the ceiling. Engage your core and slowly lower one leg towards the floor, keeping it straight. Stop before it touches the ground and lift it back to rejoin the other leg. Repeat 10-15 times on each leg. This exercise isolates the hip flexors and improves the flexion range of motion, which is crucial for high kicks. 

Warm-Up and Cool-Down

Remember, a proper warm-up before your workout and cool-down afterward are essential for injury prevention and muscle recovery.

  • Warm-Up: Begin with light cardio, such as jogging or jumping jacks, for 5-10 minutes. Follow with dynamic stretches like leg swings, lunges with twists, and arm circles to increase blood flow and prepare your muscles for movement.

  • Cool-Down: Dedicate 5-10 minutes to static stretches after your workout. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds, focusing on major muscle groups like the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors.

Building a Strong Foundation

By incorporating these hip-strengthening exercises into your routine, alongside a balanced diet and proper sleep, you’ll be well on your way to building a solid foundation for dancing. Remember, consistency is critical. Make these exercises a regular part of your training, and you’ll reap the benefits of improved flexibility, power, and injury resilience.

Consult a Professional

While this article provides a helpful starting point, consulting with a healthcare professional or certified athletic trainer is always recommended for personalized guidance. They can assess your individual needs, design a program tailored to your dance style and goals, and ensure proper form to maximize results and minimize the risk of injury. Consulting a specialist at a reputable clinic like hipkneeortho can benefit dancers seeking expert advice on hip health and strengthening exercises.


Strong hips are vital for dancers of all levels. Incorporating these hip-strengthening exercises into your routine can improve your overall performance, reduce your risk of injury, and help you move confidently.


  • Can I do these exercises at home?

 Absolutely! These exercises require minimal equipment and can be quickly done at home.

  • How often should I do these exercises?

 Aim for 2-3 sessions per week, allowing sufficient rest for recovery.

  • What if I experience pain?


If you experience pain, stop the exercise and consult a healthcare professional like those at hipkneeortho for proper guidance.

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