The hip flexors are too easily forgotten by weight training athletes, maybe because they can’t be shown off like big quads and calves. Sure, they’re small and hard to notice, but they do play a part in your sprint speed. Take this study for instance (we’ll get to the exercises after the study):
Results of Hip Flexor Training for 8 Weeks
In this study, 24 participants completed 8 weeks of hip flexor resistance training. The men increased their hip flexor strength by 11.4% and the women by 14.3%. The men lowered their 40 yard dash times by 4.4% and the women lowered their times by 3.2%. So clearly training the hip flexors is useful.
If those results don’t sound impressive, consider that a 4.4% reduction in 100 meter sprint time could be a reduction from 11.00 seconds to 10.52 seconds. That is an impressive difference when put in perspective, and remember that this is from only 8 weeks of training! Here are the results:
Hip Flexor Exercises
Elastic Band Hip Flexor Exercises
Following are two variations of the same hip flexor exercise using elastic bands. I recommend having a set of resistance bands with varying resistance levels and an ankle strap such as: Black Mountain Set of 5 Bands and Attachments for ~$30):
Machine Hip Flexor Exercises
If your gym has a multi-hip machine, it is a good option for training the hip flexors and extensors (forward an backward motion of the hip). This option is very flexible for changing resistance levels, therefore easy to track progress and make regular increases. Target parallel with the top of your thigh and the ground at the top of your range of motion.
Body Weight Hip Flexor Exercises
This method requires the least equipment and is an equally effective option. Below you can see the knee raise (you can add a dumbbell between your feet) and a straight-leg raise. The knee raise is most flexible as you can increase the dumbbell weight regularly. The straight-leg raise is a fair option too, but lacks flexible resistance levels and requires great hamstring and lower back flexibility.
Weighted planks are another reasonable option, but this exercise is more for hip flexor endurance (and abdominal endurance ) than strength, because there is no concentric or eccentric phase. They are good because you can increase the weight regularly if you have a buddy to help you.
Increase your hip flexor strength by 10-20% and you will likely be able to sprint faster. The hip flexors are not trained directly by squats, deadlifts or other common exercises, so by adding them to your routine, you will be taking a step head of some of the competition.
- Effects of hip flexor training on sprint, shuttle run, and vertical jump performance. Deane RS, Chow JW, Tillman MD, Fournier KA. [↩]