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Fact checked by Kirsten Yovino, CPT Brookbush InstituteFACT CHECKED
October 08, 2022
Joining the likes of other potential body concerns, such as thigh gaps, noticeable clavicle bones, and thigh brows, are hip dips. Thanks to social media (we're looking at you, Instagram), having or not having hip dips has become another body image issue causing women everywhere to stress out unnecessarily.
Like the other body concerns mentioned above, the hip dip is just another unneeded critique of women's body types. We're going to discuss what hip dips are, why you shouldn't care about them, and exercises you can do to strengthen and sculpt your hips.
This post will discuss:
Other than the classic song from the 69 Boyz, the term hip dips, also called violin hips, is the name given to a feature on the outer sides of the female thigh. If you were laying on your side, it would resemble a dip in the road.
Now, if you have hips that protrude outward and are trying to reduce them, you're more likely targeting exercises for saddlebags. But if you have an indentation instead, you're likely looking for moves to reduce your hip dips.
This dip occurs on the upper legs near the hip joint
And that's it.
Not everyone has visible hip dips. And if a woman has them, the hip dip area can vary greatly in how distinct it is.
Any dip in your hips is due to genetics. In fact, if we looked at everyone's skeleton, we would all have a dip. So if you're wondering "are hip dips normal?", the answer is very much yes!
Therefore, the issue isn't why some people have hip dips, it's why some have more noticeable hip dips than others. Everyone has the same basic features. However, what makes us stand apart from one another (which is awesome!), is that these various features are more or less pronounced.
Some of us have broad hips, while others have narrow hips, some have long legs, others short, some have dainty feet - you get the idea. And while there are things you can do to alter your appearance some (like build muscle, for example), there's absolutely nothing you can do to change your genetics.
To circle back, when it comes to the presence of hip dips, it comes down to how your pelvis and hip bones are genetically structured.
Hips dips are caused by your skeletal structure. As a result, getting rid of hip dips is akin to growing taller.
There are quite a few bone structures that compose the pelvis and can dictate the existence of hips dips, including:
The amount of dip in your hips is largely determined by how these bones are structured.
Women who tend to have a more pronounced dip are those with wider hips. This is largely due to more fat storage being needed to fill in the dip as the bone goes out wider.
The femur is the term for the large bone in the upper thigh. At the top of the femur sits the greater trochanter, which is part of the hip joint. Studies have shown that this hip bone plays a large part in the presence of a hip dip¹. The primary causes are the angle of the bone, size, and insertion placement.
The other issue that can cause a more distinguishable dip is the placement of your pelvic bones. When a hip bone is taller, it sits higher than the hip joint creating a bigger valley to "fill" with body fat or muscle.
While every woman has hips that are of different size and structure, there is one thing every hip has in common. Hip structure is genetic and cannot be altered, no matter how many hip abduction exercises you do.
As mentioned, if you had x-ray vision and were able to see through the skin to view everyone's skeletal system, you'd notice a dip present for everyone. So this begs the question: Why can you see hip dips on some people while not on others?
This comes down to the fact that our bodies store fat differently. This is yet another feature that's 100% dependent on genetics, meaning you have no control over it².
Some may struggle to lose back fat or extra weight in their midsection. And some women will store more fat on their hips than others, causing a more rounded appearance. This is dependent on how your body stores fat.
Alternatively, women with noticeable hip dips may have less body fat stores located there. Depending on where your body chooses to put fat deposits (which you have no control over) and whether you have excess body fat, your hip dips will be more or less pronounced.
In theory, this means that someone with a deeper dip in their hip bones could have a less noticeable dip on the outside when compared to a person with less dip in their bone structure but who has more fat deposit in that area.
Women whose hip flexors are more dominant tend to have more prominent hip dips. These are muscles such as the rectus femoris of your quadriceps and psoas major muscles.
If these muscles are more worked than your posterior hip muscles, they can cause your hip dips to appear larger than they really are.
As mentioned above, if you were born with them, there's a very small chance you'll be able to lose hip dips. It's part of your body type and aside from going to extreme measures, it will be a part of you forever.
If you are looking to truly eliminate hip dips, cosmetic surgery is unfortunately the only way to truly eliminate them 100%. There are numerous cosmetic surgeons who provide services to ladies who would rather not have this anatomical feature.
Generally, this is done by going under the knife to have hip implants surgically put in. Hip implants are made of a soft silicone rubber to simulate muscle tissue or fat.
This is very similar to breast implants. However, as hip dips are a completely normal part of the human body, we do not recommend this.
Being that you are searching "hip dips", its probably safe to say that you aren't fond of them.
Improving the appearance of hip dips is tough as again, it's part of your natural anatomy. While there are butt-lifting exercises and moves designed to add more muscle to the hip and side butt areas, it is unlikely they will be enough to completely get rid of the appearance of hip dips (again, because of genetics!).
In reality, you'll want to do the same hip-strengthening exercises as anyone else. However, you'll just want to put a little more emphasis on them.
Looking to reduce your hip dips? Here are the best exercises you can do to tone the muscle groups of the hip area.
Glute bridges are a great hip-strengthening exercise as they train all of the gluteal muscles. Plus, they're one of the best exercises for the lower body that you can do at home! One of the primary functions of your hip muscles is hip extension and it just so happens that's exactly what glute bridges do.
To perform, you'll need to lay on the floor for your starting position. Feel free to lay on a mat if it would be more comfortable but keep your feet on harder ground. Next, with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart, you will bend your knees until your shins are vertical. Keeping your feet flat on the ground, drive them down into the ground.
This will activate the posterior muscles of the lower body, thrusting your hips up as they extend. To further activate your hip muscles, you can add a booty band to cause hip abduction, which challenges the hip muscles.
Glute thrusts, also called hip thrusts, are basically the more advanced version of glute bridges.
Hip thrusts are the single best exercise to train your hips. Similar to glute bridges, they are predominately a hip extension exercise. You can start by using bodyweight, and progress to putting a load directly on your hip joint. Once you start adding weight, it will greatly increase the activation of your hip muscles.
The Romanian deadlift is an awesome exercise to create some curvy glutes and tight hamstrings. So why do single-leg?
When standing on one leg, you require more activation in the gluteus medius. This glute muscle is on the side of the hips and gets great activation as it must support and balance the entire weight of your body³.
In fact, you can test this right now ladies. Stand with your right leg straight and left leg raised. Now try to balance. You'll start feeling the outside of your glutes burn, meaning you'll get awesome results!
By adding muscle to this area, you can diminish the effect of any hip divots.
To perform these, begin in a standing position and then lift one leg behind you. With a slight bend in the knee of the standing leg, begin to lean over at the hips. Be sure to keep your upper back straight and core braced.
Hang your arms alongside your body naturally, or extend the arm on the same side as your extended leg. Continue to drop and allow your hamstrings and glutes to load tension.
Once you can't go down further, thrust your hips forward. As the bodyweight version becomes easier, add dumbbells to continue progressing.
To begin, get in a quadruped, tabletop position. Keeping a flat back, kick one leg back behind you and fully extend it. It helps to think about making an arch with your foot moving upwards.
Bring it down and then repeat with the other leg. These are glute kickbacks.
If you want to make this move even more challenging, you can perform a glute kickback on each leg and then move directly into dirty dogs, also known as fire hydrants. You can probably see where this is going, but it really is an awesome exercise to hit the outer thigh.
After performing one glute kickback on each leg, keep your legs bent and raise one of them to the outside of the body. Try to get the knee as high as you can while keeping your torso flat and even.
Repeat with the other leg.
Cable hip abductions are one of our favorite cable machine glute and leg exercises to hit the outer thigh area. To perform, prepare an ankle strap on a cable machine and set the pulley as low as it can go.
Stand parallel with the direction of the cable at a distance so that the strapped foot crosses over the other foot. You may want to hold onto the machine for balance.
Next, keeping your leg straight, pull it straight across your body out to the side. Attempt to get your foot as high as you can. Finally, slowly lower your foot and repeat. Continue the desired reps one foot at a time.
Clams are another easy exercise that can be done wherever you are.
To perform these, lay on your side with one leg on top of the other. Your heels should be in line with your spine with your knees bent in front of you.
Keeping your feet together, you will bend the knee of your top leg, as if you're doing hip openers. Keeping that knee bent, you will open your hips as much as you can before lowering the top leg slowly.
For added hip strengthening, add a resistance band to your lower thigh to add resistance.
In reality, all lunge exercises are great for training every muscle in the lower body, so it's important to do them. However, there's one type that will really focus on the outer thighs. It's called a curtsy lunge, just like the ballet move.
The starting position is similar to a normal lunge with feet hip width apart. But that's where the similarities stop. Instead of stepping out in front, you will step behind you, placing the back foot directly behind the other leg.
This causes your hip muscle fibers to stretch, creating a greater strengthening and toning effect.
You can perform these with or without weight.
Similar to lunges, every squat variation will build your entire lower body. However, one of our favorites is called the pulse squat. This is because it doesn't require a lot of weight, if any, to provide an awesome hip workout.
To perform a pulse squat, the starting position is like any other squat. You will then perform your first rep in the same manner as a squat as well.
One your thigh hits parallel with the ground, you will begin to come back up, but not the whole way. Once you move up about 1/4-1/2 of the way, you will go back down into a squat position. You then repeat the 3 more times for 4 total pulses.
When performing a rep, which includes 4 pulses, continue moving slow and controlled the whole time. This lengthens the time your hip muscles are working and increases the strengthening effect.
Some ladies think that perhaps they should lose weight to diminish the appearance of hip dips. However, it likely won't have much of an effect.
Again, this is because the indent is caused by your hip bone structure, and remember, your genetics choose where your fat is stored. Therefore, trying intermittent fasting methods or the Metabolic Confusion Diet for fat loss doesn't guarantee you'll lose fat from that exact spot on your hips.
So much pressure is put on ladies of all ages these days. Everyone's a critic and no one is good enough as is.
But you are. Whether you're an ectomorph, endomorph, mesomorph, or a combination of them, your body structure is perfect as is, hip dip or no dip. Because in reality, hip dips are a totally normal part of a woman's body.
Just like having a thigh gap, love handles, or a muffin top, hip dips is just a catchy phrase that has an undeserved negative connotation.
While we always strive for you to better yourself, we recommend you focus on things that you do have control over, such as improving your hip health through strengthening exercises, and not changing your bone anatomy.
Of course, there are some lifestyle habits that can make you look "better" but in reality, improving your health should be at the forefront of why you exercise and select nutritious food options.
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