Your hips are at the core of everything–and not just literally. It’s where your strength comes from when you lift weights, and it’s the source of power when doing explosive movements. To keep hips healthy and strong, a 2014 American Journal of Health Promotion study published reports women age 25 to 50 were shown to increase hip bone density by hopping at least ten times, twice a day, with 30 seconds between each hop.
While you could just get up from your chair, get your hops in, and then return to your normal day, we thought we’d give you more creative ways to “hop to it.” Give these exercises a try, and your hips will healthy, strong, and the powerful part they should be.
Box jumps: This exercise is literally what it sounds like…you jump onto a box. The box should be a stable surface, with most boxes constructed of wood. Other options that work as makeshift boxes are stacks of weight lifting plates, benches or chairs that aren’t tippy, or firm high-rise mats. If you’re super scholarly, you can even put old over-sized textbooks to work. The main thing to ensure is that the surface you’re jumping on is going to stay put and support your weight.
The idea behind this exercise is to be explosive. You may think jumping is no big deal, but sometimes when you go in for the execution, your mind gets in the way and your jump ends up being kind of weak. For this reason, start low–maybe 12 inches high–and get used to squatting in order to load up the power and then jumping up so that both feet land on the raised surface at the same time. The finish of the jump should be your hips moving through and thrusting forward–basically, stand tall at the top of the jump. Increase the height of the box the more comfortable you become.
To return to the starting position, fitness professionals recommend stepping down instead of jumping down in order to keep Achilles’ tendon safe.
Ladder agility skills: If you’ve never heard of this before, think hopscotch for athletes. The exercises are performed using a speed ladder—a ladder-shaped piece of equipment typically made of plastic and nylon straps that lies flat on the floor. Speed ladders are made up of 18-inch squares and vary in lengths. A fifteen-foot ladder is a good place to start. If you don’t want to purchase one, go old-school and chalk up one in your driveway or on a cement floor.
There are all kinds of jumps you can do once you have your apparatus set up. Here are a few to try:
Bunny Hops: Jump into each box two feet at a time with quick, light hops. Keep your arms at right angles on your side and move them in tandem to help with momentum.
Single Leg Hops: Jump into each box using the same foot for the entire ladder. Switch sides on the next round.
Hopscotch: Do a single leg hop into the first box, and then straddle the sides of the second box with two feet. Repeat this pattern down the ladder, always single hopping on the same foot. Switch to the opposite foot on the next round.
In and Outs: Jump with two feet in the first box, than jump to straddle that same box. Repeat this pattern, always moving from inside the box to outside the box.
Jump rope variations: Jumping rope is an amazing full-body exercise. To make the most of your spins, here are some options to add when two feet hops feel a little boring:
Single leg: For each rotation, hop on one leg as the rope passes. Stay on the same leg for one set before switching to the other side.
Backward spins: If two-foot spins are too easy, switch it up and reverse the direction of the rope.
Forward and back: Jump and land with one foot slightly forward one foot slightly back–similar to a narrow lunge. On the next rotation switch the order of your foot so that front foot is now in the back and vice versa.
Criss-cross: On each rotation criss cross your arms in front of your body, making a loop through which to jump.
Beginner: 3 sets of 12 jumps onto a 12” box
Intermediate: 3 sets of 15 jumps onto an 18” box
Advanced: As many box jumps onto a 24” box as possible in 3 minutes.
Ladder agility skills
Complete the jumps mentioned in the article in the number of rounds that match your skill and comfort level.
Beginner: 1 rounds of each jump
Intermediate: 3 rounds of each jump
Advanced: 5 rounds of each jump
Jump rope variations
Complete each set of jumps mentioned in the article in “Tabata style,” meaning 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, eight times. Using this method, you’ll do each variation twice.