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If you're feeling pain in your knees or back, did you know that it could be from and injury or weakness in your hips? That's because the body often compensates for the weakened area by putting unnecessary strain on another area of the body as to lighten the workload of the injured or weak body part. So before you keep grinding out that workout full of squats or jumps, be sure to give a little TLC to your hips, which are responsible for keeping your body in alignment during a majority of your workouts.

Here are 4 great hip-strengthening moves to utilize every day for a strong, healthy body: 

1. Hip Thrust

This move targets your gluteus maximus.

  • Adding a resistance band above your knees can make the move harder while also engaging your gluteus medius and minimus.

  • Start seated on the ground with your back resting against a sturdy bench, chair, or couch, and your knees bent so your feet are flat on the ground. Your back should be flat against the bench from just below your shoulder blade to your lower back. You can also place a resistance band just above your knees to make this move harder.

  • Drive through your heels and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips until your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Concentrate the movement in your lower body, not moving your upper body at all, and think about bringing your pelvis toward your ribs at the top. Avoid arching your back at all and look forward the whole time.

  • Slowly lower back down, continuing to brace your core and glutes and look directly forward.

  • This counts as one rep.

2. Banded Seated Abduction
This exercise works your gluteus medius and minimus.

  • Start seated on a low bench, chair, or sturdy stool with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. If you have a resistance band, place it above your knees or, for the most resistance, around your upper shins and just below your knees. (To make it easier, put the band closer to your hips. You can also do this move without a band.) Place your hands on either side of your hips for balance.

  • Pull your knees apart, moving slowly and with control and pulling against the resistance from the band. Keep your core braced and back flat as you move, squeezing your glutes.

  • Slowly bring your legs back together to return to the starting position. Again, move with control and resist the band so it's not snapping your legs back for you.

  • This counts as one rep.

3. Banded Side Step

You'll work the gluteus medius and minimus with this challenging squat variation.

  • Begin standing with a band above your knees and your feet about shoulder's width apart, directly under your hips. (To make the move harder, lower the band to below your knees. The lower it is, the more challenging the move will be.)

  • Squat about halfway down, bending at the hips and knees. Look straight ahead and keep your back flat and your knees behind or in line with your toes.

  • With your right foot, take a step sideways to the right as far as you can. To fully activate the muscle, be sure to step onto your heel, rather than your toes.

  • Step to the right with your left foot, landing at about shoulder's width again. Don't step your left foot all the way in; you want to keep some space between your legs to maintain the resistance from the band. Keep your core engaged and avoid dragging your left foot or rocking your torso from side to side.

  • Repeat, taking another step to the right.

  • Reverse the move, taking two steps to the left.

  • This counts as one rep.

4. Banded Standing Donkey Kick
Activate your gluteus maximus with this bent-over donkey kick.

  • Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, with the front of your hips against a table, counter, or the back of a couch or chair. To make the move more challenging, place a resistance band above your knees.

  • Lean over the surface in front of you, propping yourself up on your elbows and making sure the front of your hips and abdomen can lay flat against it. This will help prevent any movement through your lower back.

  • Bend your right knee and lift your right foot off the floor. Keep your foot flexed so your ankle is at or close to a 90-degree angle with your toes pointing down. This is your starting position.

  • Kick your right foot back, extending your leg while keeping your foot flexed. Squeeze your glutes and keep your core braced as you move.

  • Bend your right leg and bring it back in, returning to the starting position.

  • This counts as one rep. Make sure to do equal reps on both legs.

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