You already know sitting all day does you no favors if you’re trying to lose weight. But what most people don’t realize is that it also causes one of your body’s largest muscle groups (your glutes) to shut off. Researchers call it “gluteal amnesia” (no joke), and as if that weren’t bad enough, extended sitting also causes the muscles on the front of your hips (your psoas) to become overactive. The solution: the single-leg, foot-elevated hip raise.
The combination of tight psoas and weak glutes increases both the strain on your spine and your risk for low back pain. Not only does this hip raise turn your glutes back on and open up your hips, it also engages just about every muscle below your waist one leg at a time, helping you build strength as you iron out imbalances.
How to Do the Single-Leg, Foot-Elevated Hip Raise
Muscles targeted: Glutes, quads, and core.
–Lie face-up on the floor with your arms by your sides, your right foot on a bench (or other immovable object), and your left foot elevated.
–Squeeze your glutes and push through your right foot, raising your hips until your body forms a straight line from your right knee to your shoulders.
–Pause, then return to the starting position. Do equal reps on both legs.
Make it Easier
Perform the move with both feet on the bench, or lose the bench and place both feet flat on the floor.
Make it Harder
Trade the bench for a stability ball, which will increase muscle recruitment throughout your body to keep you stable and balanced. The more muscles you work, the more muscle you build.
Bonus tip: Brace your core (imagine you’re about to be punched in the gut, drawing your belly button toward your back) for the duration of each set. Keeping your core tight makes it harder for you to arch your back, minimizing the stress on your spine.