Can You Exercise Your Way To Bigger Hips?

Influenced by figures like the Kardashians, Beyoncé, and Jennifer Lopez, the hourglass figure is currently the world's most coveted body shape for women. But even before modern celebrities cemented ideal waist-to-hip ratios as the standard of beauty, pop culture icons of the 20th century (read: Marilyn Monroe) reinforced the appeal of the hourglass look.


Big hips are by no means essential to being attractive — as we know true beauty comes from within — but if you catch yourself dreaming about having bigger hips, you aren't alone.

Cosmetic surgery is a popular route to, not only defying the signs of aging, but also altering your body composition. You can now make certain parts of your body smaller with liposuction, while emphasizing others with procedures like fat grafts and implants. But not everybody wants to take such drastic (or costly) measures to change the way their body looks. So what are our options? Can you really exercise your way to an hourglass figure with wider hips?

Hip abductions

First, the sad news. You can't physically alter the dimensions of your hip bones through exercise. Sorry about that! While gaining weight by upping your calorie intake might result in wider hips, we don't have any way to control where we put on fat (or lose it) either, per Victorem Gear. That said, you can build muscle in your hip area through targeted exercise, and this can give the appearance of wider hips. Following a diet rich in protein that sustains muscle growth will amplify the effects of targeted exercise.


One of the most effective exercises to put on muscle in your hips is hip abductions. As Midss explains, this refers to movements where your thigh moves away from the center of your body, the way it does when you climb out of a car.

Hip drops are a variety of hip abductions that involve standing on the edge of a raised surface, such as a step, with one foot only. Your other foot should be parallel to your foot that's on the surface, but should be suspended in the air. Slowly raise and lower your opposite hip to the leg that's standing on the surface, keeping your core and shoulders straight. This YouTube video posted by Sports Injury Clinic is a great example of a hip drop.

Repeat for 20 to 25 reps on both legs to get the most out of the workout.


Leg lifts

A lot of the exercises that you can do to build muscle in your hips revolve around using your legs. Another exercise to try is leg lifts. For this, you will need an exercise mat and a resistance band. While these elements are not crucial, they'll lead to a more efficient workout.


Start by putting the resistance band around your thighs. Get on all fours on your mat and stretching your right leg behind you until your toes touch the floor. Then lift your leg up so it lines up with your spine. And congrats — you've just done a leg lift!

Victorem Gear recommends doing two leg lifts on each leg and then repeating the process for 45 seconds to see the best results. As you become stronger, you can increase to three reps before swapping over. You should aim to repeat this exercise (and any other exercises you do for your hips) around two to three times a week. Remember to have a rest day after each exercise session so your muscles have time to heal.

Side lunges

When you want hip gains, lunges are your best friend. A side lunge rather than a classic lunge will really work your glutes to build strength in your hips. According to Healthline, a nice advantage of this exercise is that it simultaneously works your core and sculpts your inner thighs.


Begin with your feet together. Step out to the side with one leg and bend your knee while keeping the leg you're standing on straight. With the leg that's bending, make sure that your knee bends over your toe. While keeping your stomach muscles tight, sit deeper into the bend and move your hips backwards so your torso naturally leans forwards. Then return to your standing position and repeat on the other side.

Aim to complete 10 to 12 reps of this exercise for two to three sets. It's up to you where you put your hands for the exercise. Some people like to rest them on their hips, but you could put them on your head to engage your core muscles even more.

Donkey kicks

Donkey kicks are similar to leg lifts, but rather than keeping your leg straight at your spine level, you're going to bend your knee. As you might have guessed from the name, this exercise simulates a donkey kicking in the air.


Begin in the same way you would your leg lifts, on an exercise mat in a tabletop position. Remember to keep your knees under your hips and your hands and elbows in line with your shoulders. Your back should also be straight and parallel to the floor. Then lift your knee back and up until the sole of your foot is facing the ceiling, while your knee remains bent at a 90 degree angle. Hold the position for a second or two before lowering back to your starting position

Repeat 10 to 12 times before completing the exercise on the other leg, per Steel Supplements. Remember to squeeze your glutes and core muscles while the knee is lifted, and keep your lower back flat like a tabletop.


Ah, old faithful. Squats are universally known as the gym junkie's way to a bigger booty, but this exercise can also help you to build and tone muscles in your hips.

Though squats are a seemingly simple exercise, many people get the form wrong, which can then impact your success rate. To do a proper squat, always begin with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your core tight and your back straight as you squat — no bending over! While it's important to squat low, you shouldn't allow your knees to pass your toes. Repeat your squats for 45 seconds. You can put your arms straight in front of you to improve your balance, or make the exercise even harder with dumbbells.


Victorem Gear recommends adding a resistance band to the exercise to make your muscles work even harder. Simply place the band around your thighs before you start squatting to reap the benefits.

Glute bridges

Many of the exercises that we associate with building a bigger butt will also help you to get the illusion of wider hips. Glute bridges begin with you laying on your back on an exercise mat. Bend your knees to 90 degrees and then lift your glutes into the air. Rest your arms beside you on the mat to support yourself and squeeze your glutes to hold yourself up.


Glute bridges work your hamstrings and abdominals as well, so this is a great all-rounder, per Steel Supplements. You can also add variations in the form of glute bridges with heel lifts, or single leg glute bridges, to keep your workout interesting.

Be careful of the common mistakes that many people make when performing glute bridges. Your House Fitness explains that you should avoid rotating your hips or torso; always keep your upper body straight like a bridge. It's also important to take your time with these and not perform them too quickly. Build yourself up to three sets of 15 to 25 reps.


Another exercise that can lead to serious gains in your hips is the clamshell. This is another floor-based exercise, except you'll begin on your side rather than on your back. Rest your head on your arm or on your mat, or prop yourself up on your elbow. Bend your knees at 90 degrees and pile your legs on top of each other, keeping your hips relaxed and your knees slightly in front of your hips (via Healthline).


Slowly roll your top knee up towards the ceiling while keeping your feet pinned together, so your legs open like a clamshell. Make sure that your hips stay still and in line with your torso so they don't roll open, too. Let your thighs do the work! Then close your knee again, and repeat for 10 to 12 reps on each leg for three sets.

You can add a resistance band to this exercise to give yourself more of a challenge, but it's also fine to complete your clamshells on their own.

Bicycle crunches

The above exercises target your hips and glutes to build muscle in that area, but you can add to this effect with exercises that tone your waist. Movements like bicycle crunches are often used to get a snatched mid-section, which can give the illusion of a smaller waist-to-hip ratio, and thus make your hips look even bigger.


Bicycle crunches work your external and internal obliques, as well as your lower abdominal muscles (via KG Physio). In addition to giving you a more defined mid-section, this exercise can help to improve your balance.

Begin by lying flat on your mat with bent knees and your hands behind your head, as if you were preparing to do a regular crunch. Then twist your right elbow towards the opposite knee, stretching your right leg as you do. Return to your starting position and repeat on the other side, building up to 10 reps.

These exercises will slowly but surely help you build the body of your dreams. Just remember to always stretch and warm up before hitting the gym or your home workout space.