To caveat this article, hip dips are a super-normal part of the female body that can’t ever be "exercised away." When we talk about hip dips, we mean the inward depression along the side of the body, just below the hip bone. They are a totally normal part of the figure and will be more prominent in some people than others.
How prominent your hip dips appear is often related to the distribution of fat and muscle in the body. Exercises that target the hips can help you build muscle and create more of an hourglass shape. What’s more, while the hips might not be a common goal in the gym, stronger hip muscles can help you run and move better.
Looking for more workout inspiration? We've found the best ab workouts here, how to build your glutes (without weights) with four easy moves, and how to master the arm exercise Arnold Schwarzenegger created.
The best exercises to target hip dips
As mentioned above, the amount you can see ‘hip dips’ will sometimes be down to how your pelvis sits in your body. No exercises will completely get rid of hip dips, but the exercises below target your hips, thighs, abdominals, and buttocks to tone this section of the body for an hourglass shape.
1. Fire hydrants
This slightly bizarrely named exercise is a glute killer. Fire hydrants target the glutes, hips, and core, and can be done from just about anywhere.
Aim for three sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
- Get onto all fours, with your knees below your hips and your arms below your shoulders
- Brace your core and raise your right bent knee out to the side, keeping the knee bent
- Stop at hip height, pause, and then lower the knee back to the starting position.
2. Side leg raises
Side leg lifts target the gluteus medius and minimus, as well as building strength in the outer thighs and hip abductors.
Aim for three sets of 10-15 repetitions on each side. To make this exercise harder, add a resistance band above the knees (we’ve hand-picked the best resistance bands on the market here).
- Start by lying on one side, with your legs extended out straight, one stacked on top of the other
- Rest your head on your arm straight on the floor, or bend your elbow and hold your head for support
- Engaging your core, lift your top leg up straight towards the ceiling; hold at the top before lowering back to your starting position.
3. Lateral squat walk
Lateral squat walks target the glutes and quadriceps. It’s intense, so get ready to feel the burn! If you want to make this exercise more challenging, add a resistance band above the knee, or hold a dumbbell in your arms.
Perform 3 sets of 10 reps on each side.
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, with the toes turned slightly outwards and a resistance band just above the knee caps
- With your hands clasped in front of you, take a step out to the right, bend the knees and sink back into a squat position
- Engage the glutes and press back into the starting position.
4. Lateral lunge
This move targets the lateral stabilizers in the body, as well as targeting the inner thighs. It also works the glutes, so it’s a great exercise for targeting this part of the body.
Aim for 3 rounds of 10-15 reps on each side.
- Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart
- Take a step out to the right, bending your right knee and sinking your hips back and down, with your left leg out straight
- Push off from the ball of your foot to get back to your starting position.
5. Glute bridge with abduction
This exercise works your glutes, thighs, and hamstrings to tone and sculpt this part of the body. It also requires you to engage your abdominal muscles and lower back, so it's a great all-around strengthening exercise. To make this exercise harder, try putting a resistance band around your legs, just above your knees.
Aim for three sets of 10 repetitions.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor
- Engaging your core, squeeze your glutes, and raise your hips
- Once your hips are high enough to form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, pulse your knees out to the side before returning them back and lowering your hips back down to the ground.
6. Donkey kicks
Donkey kicks are a brilliant way of targeting the gluteus medius (your side glutes). To make this exercise more challenging, add a resistance band above your knees.
Aim for 20 reps, 10 on each side.
- Get onto all fours, with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips
- Without rounding your spine, and keeping the 90-degree angle in your knee, lift your leg straight up and back towards the ceiling, with your foot flexed
- Lower it back slowly to starting position.
7. Side curtsey lunge
Like other lunges, the main muscles worked doing side lunges are the quads and glutes, however, the lateral movement also puts extra focus on the inner and outer thighs.
Aim for three sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
- Keeping your weight in your left foot, take a step back with your right foot, crossing it behind your left
- Bend your knees until your right knee is a few inches from the floor, then reverse the steps so you are back in the starting position
- Repeat on the other side.
Clamshells strengthen the gluteus medius, as well as the inner and outer thighs. These muscles all help stabilize the pelvis, so it’s a great exercise to practice if you’re looking to build muscle around your hips. It’s also a good one for the pelvic floor.
Aim for three sets of 10-15 repetitions on each side.
- Lie on your side with your head supported
- With bent knees, stack one leg on top of the other, make sure your hips are also stacked and not rocking outwards during this move
- Keeping the bend in the knee, raise the top knee up as high as you can get it without moving your hips or pelvis
- Keep your core engaged and your feet pressed together
- Lower the knee back to its starting position.
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Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.
- Sam HopesSenior Staff Writer - Fitness