Hip flexor strengthening

August 5, 2011 at 12:04 am 4 comments

I’ve always admired dancers who can lift their legs into a high straddle like it’s nothing.  The key to this move?  Killer hip flexors.  I’ve noticed lately how weak mine are; I’ve never done exercises to specifically target them.  In an effort to change this, I found this hip flexor exercise and modified it to include two things I already have at home: a pilates resistance band, and of course, my pole.

First, fold the band in half.  Then, fold it again so that about 2/3 of the band overlaps, like this (the loop created by the first fold should be on the longer end):

Wrap the folded section around the back of the pole about a foot off the floor, and slip the longer end through the loop made by the folds in the short end.

Pull the long end to tighten the knot.

Face the pole.  Stick one foot through the hanging loop so that the resistance band wraps around the top of your foot.  Lie back so that your feet are about even with the pole.  You may have to adjust your positioning depending on the length of your legs and the hanging loop of the band.

Pull your knee in towards your chest.  You should feel tension in the band as you do so.  Perform as many repetitions as needed on both sides.


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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Amy~*  |  August 9, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Hey Holly! A large part of being able to lift your legs very high in a straddle is actually core and hamstrings– I can do a high straddle and my hip flexors are very tight and weak! If you start with a bent lead knee and develop it to a straight leg, it’s much easier, and you need to really tuck that tailbone in and lift from the abs. A great way to practice is to do a pole hold and, with straight legs, try to bring your toes literally up to your face. If you lift with your quads, you will quickly cramp, but if you lift through the lower abs you will be able to lift much higher!

    • 2. Holly  |  August 10, 2011 at 12:37 am

      Oh abs are definitely important too, but I know that while my abs are pretty strong this is one move I’ve had trouble with. I do practice pole hold leg lifts (it’s a class warm-up staple) but I find that when I cramp, I don’t cramp in my quads, I cramp in my hip flexors. After all, this move is really the same as a hanging leg raise, explained here: http://www.livestrong.com/article/509744-what-muscles-are-worked-with-hanging-leg-raises/…but I guess it also depends on what technique you’re using and how high you can get your legs to begin with, since everyone has a different level of strength and flexibility.

  • 3. Amy~*  |  August 10, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Holly, if you’re doing the straddle with straight legs, it’s more like a hanging straight leg raise, which is abs =) http://www.livestrong.com/video/5266-hanging-straight-leg-raises/

  • 4. krissykiki  |  November 29, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    I always love seeing people post exercises to help develop pole strength. Thanks


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