Working the Hips: Workouts to Build Strength and Muscle Stamina

Soldiers carry two 40-pound kettlebells during the Sprint Drag Carry event of an Army Combat Physical Fitness test.
Sgt. Steven J. Clough, Battalion medical liaison with the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, carries two 40-pound kettlebells during the Sprint Drag Carry event of an Army Combat Physical Fitness test hosted at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, California, July 21, 2019. (U.S. Army/Amy Carle)

If you're prepping for a tactical profession that runs, rucks, swims with fins or carries heavy equipment as part of the selection and job, you need to prepare the body to be more durable to handle the loads.

That means working the legs, hips and lower back. The workout below is advanced and not recommended to do in full if you are not currently working out at a high intermediate or advanced level. Otherwise, seriously decrease repetitions, distances, sets, weight and consider some easier exercise options.

Here is the workout that starts off with a pretty tough warm-up that actually becomes part of the workout after the first 10 sets:

Squat and Run Pyramid 1-10-1 or 1-20, with 100 meter runs in between sets: 1 squat, run 100 meters, 2 squats, run 100 meters, 3 squats, run 100 meters … work your way up the pyramid to level 10 and decide to repeat in reverse order after set 10 or keep going up to 20.

If you select the 1-10-1 pyramid you will get 100 total squats during the 19 sets (with 1,900 meters of running).

If you select the 1-20 pyramid, you will get 210 total squats during the 20 sets (with 2000 meters of running).

Plank and Mountain Climber Combo: A challenging way to mix in dynamic hip work with isometric core activities is to do the plank pose with mountain climbers Every Minute On the Minute (EMOM). 

Plank pose 10 minutes but do a set of a 10 mountain climbers/leg EMOM.

Repeat 3 times

  • Run 3 min (or bike)
  • Deadlift 5
  • Hanging Knee-ups 10-15 (or leg tucks)

Repeat 3 times

  • Kettlebell swings 20
  • Farmer walk up and down stairs 4x or 100 meters holding only 1 KB in one hand. Change hands as needed for grip or core balance.

If you are preparing for future military special ops programs that involve water, you should also be finding time to swim, tread and do swim PT on the pool deck.

Here is a mix of swim workouts that is great after any leg day, long run or long rucking workout as a top off to your training as well as a natural cooldown.

Swim workout with fins to top off leg day and hip focus:

If you have a partner, do Life Saving and Lunges:

Repeat 10 times

  • Buddy tow 25 meters
  • Lunges 25 meters
  • (trade roles every set)

If you do not have a partner to buddy tow, skip and move onto the swim workout with fins.

Swim 1,000-1,500 meters with fins CSS, freestyle, back kicking, dolphin kicking and flutter-kicking as desired to mix up different kicks to challenge the legs and hips.

After the workout is completed, cool down with a few minutes of treading water using a variety of kicks (scissor kick, egg-beater kick, breaststroke kick) and using no hands. Build up to 5-10 minutes of treading without your hands especially if you are preparing for challenging military swim or scuba courses in your future.

If you are finding sit-ups for fitness tests or the new plank and leg tucks to be difficult, mix in other exercises to work both the core stability and hip muscles with a wide variety of drills and workouts that will help you in other areas of tactical fitness (running, swimming, rucking, load bearing, etc). This is a tough workout and is doable after some progression into strength training. We actually did this workout this week and it was an instant favorite among over 25 special ops candidates.

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