The thighs and hips are some of the largest and strongest muscles in your body. They’re responsible for moving you around all day, and they’re the driving force when you stand, sit, walk, run, jump, squat down, and go up and down stairs. Keeping your legs strong is especially important for the aging population to keep good mobility and to prevent falls.

1

The squat is one of the fundamental functional exercise moves.

More than 200 muscles are active when you do a squat, and it has many practical carry-overs to daily life. You need to master the squat before tackling the more advanced, single-leg moves like lunges or step-ups.

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and angled out slightly, with your heels planted firmly on the floor. Keeping your back muscles tight and the shape of your spine the same, start to lean your pelvis and upper body forward as you begin to bend your knees, like you’re starting to sit down into a chair.

If you look at yourself from the side, your shoulder should be over your ankle. Continue bending your knees and sinking your hips down until (ideally) your thighs are parallel to the ground. Press your heels into the floor and drive yourself back up to the standing position.

2

A lunge is a more difficult version of the squat because most of your weight is on one leg.

Begin standing with your feet underneath your hip sockets. Shift your weight onto one leg and slide the other foot approximately 2 feet behind you.

Keeping your weight on the heel of your front foot, begin to squat, bending both knees and leaning your upper body forward (just like a squat) so that your shoulder stays over your front ankle.

When your back knee touches the floor, press your front heel into the floor and pull yourself forward into the standing position.

Be sure to keep your front knee over your ankle — don’t let your thigh roll inward.

Do some reps on one leg and then switch sides. Don’t be surprised if one side is significantly harder than the other.

3

The lying hip adduction is an exercise for the inner thigh muscles.

Lie on your side, bend your top knee, and plant your top foot flat on the floor in front of your bottom knee. Flex your inner thigh muscles on your bottom leg to lift your bottom leg off the ground. Hold for one second and then lower. Repeat reps on one side and then flip over and do the other leg.

4

The lying hip abduction is the opposite move of the lying hip adduction.

Lie on your side with your bottom knee bent and your top leg straight and parallel to your spine (it will feel like it’s behind you).

Flex your foot (pull your toes up toward your shin) and turn your top thigh one click outward so that your kneecap and foot point a little bit upward instead of straight ahead.

Lift your top leg approximately 45 degrees, hold for one second, and slowly lower.

Do your reps on one hip and then flip over and do the other side.

Like the lunge, you’ll probably find that one hip is weaker than the other. If that’s the case, do one set on the weak side, one set on the stronger side, and a second set on the weaker side to bring it up to snuff.