Updated: Mar 28
Table of Contents:
Introduction to Hip Dips:
Hip dips are indentations along the side of the hip bones that can create an uneven appearance. Many people are concerned about hip dips and want to know if they can be changed through exercise. In this blog post, we’ll explore the nature of hip dips, the limitations of exercise, and other non-surgical solutions.
What are Hip Dips?
Hip dips are a natural variation in anatomy and occur when the lower part of the hip bone protrudes slightly beyond the thigh bone, creating a dip or indentation. While hip dips are often thought of as a problem, they are a common and normal part of the human body. Some people may have hip dips that are more pronounced, while others may have hip dips that are barely noticeable.
The Perception of Hip Dips in Society and Body Image
Hip dips have become a source of insecurity for many people due to societal beauty standards and body image expectations within the last 10 years. Historically, the hourglass figure with rounded hips has been considered the epitome of beauty and femininity. However, hip dips can give the appearance of an uneven hip shape, leading some individuals to feel self-conscious or ashamed of their bodies. The media and fashion & fitness industries have perpetuated the idea that a certain body shape is ideal, leading to negative self-perception and body shaming.
"This is technically not a problem that needs to be fixed."
It is important to recognize that hip dips are a natural variation in anatomy and not a sign of poor health or fitness. This is technically not a problem that needs to be fixed. Society's unrealistic beauty standards should not dictate how individuals feel about their bodies. Everyone has unique physical characteristics and imperfections, and it is important to celebrate and embrace our differences. By embracing body positivity and self-love, individuals can learn to appreciate and love their bodies for what they are, rather than trying to conform to societal standards. Ultimately, it is important to recognize that everyone is beautiful in their own way, and hip dips are just one of many unique physical characteristics that make us who we are.
That being said, I completely understand that body acceptance doesn't always happen overnight and that as much as we try to accept our perceived flaws, we all still want to find solutions to help us feel better. So don't worry, I'm not going to leave you hanging here. We'll explore all of your options below on the things that we can do to help you minimize the appearance of your hip dips.
The Anatomy of Hip Dips
The hip dip area is located along the side of the hip bones and is made up of several different muscle groups. These muscles include the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and the tensor fasciae latae. The gluteus medius and minimus are responsible for controlling hip rotation and stability, while the tensor fasciae latae helps to control hip flexion and abduction.
The Limitations of Exercise to Improve Hip Dips
While exercise can help build muscle and improve body composition, it is not possible to change the basic anatomy of the hip bones through exercise. The dip in the hip is due to the shape of the bones, not the amount of muscle or fat in the area. So, exercise alone cannot change the shape of the hip bones. However, exercise can be used to improve body composition and create a more toned appearance around the hip area.
"Anyone who tells you otherwise is not educated on the subject or is likely trying to sell you something so buyers beware. "
10 Exercises that may Help with Hip Dips
Some exercises that may be helpful for targeting the muscles in the hip dip area include:
1. Glute bridges – This exercise helps to target the gluteus medius and minimus, and can help to improve hip stability and rotation. Adding a booty band to a hip bridge exercise can increase glute activation by providing resistance to the movement. The resistance from the band challenges the glutes to work harder to lift the hips, leading to greater muscle activation and stimulation. This can help to build stronger, more toned glutes, which can in turn improve the overall appearance of hip dips. By adding resistance to the hip bridge, the booty band can also help to create more tension in the glutes, which can lead to greater muscle activation and a more effective workout.
2. Clamshells – The clam-shell exercise is an effective exercise for working the hip abductors, which are the muscles that run along the side of the hips. This exercise is a beneficial exercise for individuals with hip dips as it helps to improve hip stability, strengthen hip abductors, balance muscle development, and improve posture.
3. Side-lying leg lifts – This exercise targets the gluteus medius and minimus and helps to improve hip stability and rotation. The side-lying leg lift exercise can be beneficial for individuals with hip dips as it targets the glute medius, one of the key muscles responsible for providing stability to the hips. This exercise helps to strengthen and tone the glutes, which can improve overall hip and thigh appearance, enhance posture, and reduce the appearance of hip dips. Additionally, side-lying leg lifts can also help improve hip stability and reduce the risk of hip and knee injuries by strengthening the muscles around these joints. The exercise also works on the oblique muscles, providing an extra challenge to the core, leading to a more toned midsection.
4. Sumo Squats – The type of squat that maximizes glute activation is the sumo squat. The sumo squat is a wider stance squat where the feet are positioned wider than shoulder-width apart and the toes are turned out. This stance places more emphasis on the glutes and inner thighs compared to traditional squats, which primarily target the quadriceps. Additionally, keeping the weight on the heels and driving through the heels while performing the sumo squat can further activate the glutes.
5. Reverse Lunges – Reverse lunges are a great exercise for the glutes and hip dips because they target the muscles in the legs and hips while also improving balance and stability. During a reverse lunge, the front leg works to extend the hip and knee, while the back leg works to stabilize the body. This movement challenges the glutes, particularly the gluteus medius and minimus, to fire and engage, helping to build strength and improve tone in the area. You can also perform these with a slight lean forward (forward hip hinge). By leaning forward and maintaining a 90-degree bend in the front knee, you can effectively target the glute muscles. Conversely, if you increase the angle in the front knee, you will place more emphasis on the quadriceps muscles.
6. Bulgarian Split Squats– The Bulgarian split squat is an effective exercise for targeting the glute muscles as it allows for increased activation and strengthening of these muscles. The exercise involves performing a lunge with the back foot elevated on a bench or step, which creates a longer range of motion for the working leg. This increased range of motion puts greater emphasis on the glute muscles, as they are responsible for stabilizing and supporting the body throughout the movement. Additionally, the lunge position also targets the hip abductors and external rotators, which are important muscles for overall hip stability and function. Similarly to the reverse lunge, you can perform this with a slight hip hinge (forward lean) to help target the glutes more.
7. Barbell Hip Thrusters – Barbell hip thrusters are a compound exercise that targets the glutes and helps to improve their shape. The exercise is performed by lying on your back with your shoulder blades on a bench and your feet on the floor, holding a barbell across your hips. You then drive your hips up towards the ceiling, using your glutes to lift the weight.
The amount of weight you push is important because it affects the intensity of the exercise and the level of activation in the glutes. By using a heavier weight, you challenge the muscles more, leading to greater activation and growth. However, it's important to start with a lighter weight and gradually increase as you build strength and avoid injury. It's also important to maintain proper form and engage the glutes throughout the entire movement to maximize activation and results.
8. Cable Abuction – The cable machine is important for glute medius activation because it targets this specific muscle group in isolation. The glute medius is responsible for stabilizing the hip and preventing excessive movement in the hips and lower back, making it an important muscle for both athletic performance and lower back health. The cable machine allows for resistance to be placed on the glute medius while it moves through a range of motion, effectively strengthening and toning the muscle. Additionally, using a cable machine can provide more consistent resistance throughout the entire movement, making it a great tool for targeting the glute medius in isolation.
9. Donkey Kicks – The traditional donkey kick exercise is performed on the floor, where you start on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. From this position, you lift one leg up and back, keeping your knee bent and pointing your toe toward the ceiling. Then, you lower the leg back down to the starting position. Another option is to use a cable machine, which allows for a more controlled movement and greater resistance. Regardless of the variation, the key to maximizing the benefits of the donkey kick exercise is to focus on proper form and squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement. You can also try playing with the angles of your kicks to challenge your glutes in different ways.
10. Step-Ups– The glute step-up exercise can help improve the shape of your glutes by targeting the glute muscles and working them through a full range of motion. The exercise involves stepping onto a raised surface, such as a step or bench, with one foot, and then pressing through the heel to raise the body up until the standing leg is straight. The glutes must work to extend the hip and lift the body up, which helps to strengthen and shape the muscles. The step-up exercise can also be done with weights, such as dumbbells or a barbell, to increase the resistance and challenge the muscles even further. The step-up exercise can also be modified to target different areas of the glutes by varying the height of the step, the width of the step, or the placement of the feet, and also by leaning slightly forward with a forward hip hinge.
It’s important to note that while these exercises can help to improve body composition and muscle tone, the extent of their impact on hip dips will vary from person to person. Factors such as muscle imbalances, body composition, and individual anatomy will all play a role in determining the impact of these exercises on hip dips.
Incorporating these exercises into a well-rounded strength training program, along with regular cardiovascular exercise and a balanced diet, can help to improve overall body composition and create a more toned appearance in the hip dip area.
Why Your Glutes May Be Weak & Inactive
While sometimes we are already attempting to work on the correct exercises, we may still not be targeting the glute area properly. There are several factors that can contribute to weak and inactive glutes, including:
Prolonged sitting: Sitting for long periods of time can lead to a decrease in muscle activation, including the glutes.
Poor posture: Poor posture can lead to an imbalance in muscle activation, which can result in the glutes becoming weak and inactive.
Inadequate warm-up: Skipping your warm-up or not properly warming up before exercise can lead to reduced muscle activation, including the glutes.
Over-reliance on other muscle groups: Over-reliance on other muscle groups, such as the quadriceps, can lead to decreased activation and weakness in the glutes.
Muscle imbalances: Muscle imbalances, such as tight hip flexors or weak core muscles, can also contribute to weak and inactive glutes.
Injuries: Injuries, such as sprains or strains, can affect muscle activation and lead to weakness in the glutes.
Lack of targeted exercise: Failure to perform exercises specifically designed to target the glutes can also contribute to their weakness and inactivity.
4 Exercises to Activate Your Glutes
Glute activation exercises are exercises designed to target and activate the glute muscles before a strength training workout. These exercises are important because they help to ensure that the glute muscles are engaged and working properly during the workout. When the glutes are weak or inactive, other muscle groups, such as quads, the lower back, or hips, may compensate, which can lead to injury or imbalanced muscle development.
"Typically, a person should do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps of glute activation exercises before beginning a strength training workout."
Some examples of effective glute activation exercises include:
1. Side Plank Clamshell Hip Dip
The Side Plank Clamshell is a bodyweight exercise that targets the glutes and hips, specifically the hip abductors (the muscles on the sides of the hips) and hip stabilizers. The exercise is performed in a side plank position, with the legs bent at a 90-degree angle and the top leg lifted and then lowered. This movement helps to strengthen the hip abductors, which can improve hip stability and reduce hip dips. The side plank position also engages the core muscles, making it a full-body exercise that can also improve balance and stability. The Clamshell variation can be made more challenging by adding resistance, such as a resistance band, to increase the resistance on the hip abductors.
2. Fire Hydrants
The Fire Hydrant exercise is a strength-training exercise that specifically targets the gluteus medius and hip rotator muscles. It's performed on the floor on all fours, with the hands placed under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. From this starting position, one leg is lifted to the side, keeping the knee bent and the foot flexed. The movement mimics a dog lifting its leg to relieve itself, hence the name "fire hydrant." The exercise is typically performed for several repetitions on each side and can be used to improve hip stability, activate the glutes, and prevent or alleviate hip and lower back pain.
3. Booty Band Side Steps
The Booty Band Side Steps exercise is a resistance band exercise targeting the glutes and hip abductors. The exercise is performed by placing a resistance band around the legs, above the knees, and standing with feet hip-width apart. The individual then steps to the side with one leg while keeping the band tensioned, and then returns to the starting position. This is repeated for a specified number of reps before switching legs and repeating the movement. The resistance band provides extra resistance for the glute muscles, helping to engage and strengthen them with each step.
4. Glute Bridge Marching
The Glute Bridge Marching is an exercise that targets the muscles in the glutes, specifically the gluteus maximus, and helps to improve the shape and strength of the glutes. The exercise is performed by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then, you lift your hips off the ground, keeping your feet and shoulders in place, and alternate lifting one leg at a time while maintaining a bridge position with your hips. This movement mimics the action of marching and helps to engage and isolate the glute muscles, providing a challenging and effective workout for the glutes.
Can hip dips be changed through surgery?
Surgery is a possible solution for people who are unhappy with their hip dips, but it is not recommended for everyone. Some people may be candidates for liposuction or fat transfer to the hip area, which can help to smooth out the appearance of hip dips. However, these procedures can be expensive and come with risks, so it is important to carefully consider the potential benefits and drawbacks before proceeding with surgery.
What is a BBL?
BBL stands for Brazilian Butt Lift, a cosmetic surgery procedure that involves transferring fat from one part of the body to the buttocks to enhance its shape and size. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and involves liposuction of the donor area, followed by purifying and re-injecting the fat into the buttock area.
While BBL has become increasingly popular in recent years, it is important to note that the procedure carries significant risks and potential complications, including:
Fat embolism: Fat embolism occurs when fat enters the bloodstream and travels to other parts of the body, including the lungs, heart, and brain, causing serious health problems and even death.
Infection: BBL involves making incisions, which increase the risk of infection. In severe cases, infections can lead to sepsis, which can be life-threatening.
Numbness and loss of sensation: BBL can cause nerve damage and lead to permanent numbness and loss of sensation in the buttock area.
Unsatisfactory results: There is a risk of dissatisfaction with the results of BBL due to asymmetry, irregularity, or other issues.
Need for revision surgery: BBL is not a one-time procedure and may require revision surgery to achieve the desired results.
"According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there is an estimated death rate of 1 in 3,000 to 1 in 5000 BBL procedures."
While data is limited some studies have reported that the death rate associated with the procedure is higher compared to other plastic surgery procedures. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there is an estimated death rate of 1 in 3,000 to 1 in 5000 BBL procedures. However, it is important to note that the true death rate is likely to be higher as many deaths may not be reported or attributed to the procedure.
BBL is a cosmetic procedure that carries significant risks, including fat embolism, infection, numbness, loss of sensation, unsatisfactory results, and the need for revision surgery. The procedure should be performed only by a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon, and patients should be fully informed of the risks and benefits before proceeding.
Other Non-Surgical Options for Hip Dips
In addition to exercise and surgery, there are other non-surgical solutions that can help to improve the appearance of hip dips:
Clothing: Wearing clothing that helps create a more flattering appearance, such as high-waisted pants or skirts, can help to minimize the appearance of hip dips. By choosing clothing that creates a smooth, streamlined silhouette, people can help to downplay the appearance of hip dips and feel more confident in their own skin.
Shaping Undergarments: Another non-surgical option is using shaping undergarments, such as padded shorts or control-top pantyhose, to help create a more even appearance. These types of undergarments are designed to provide support and create a smooth, flattering silhouette. By wearing these types of garments, people can help to downplay the appearance of hip dips and feel more confident in their own skin.
Padding: In addition to clothing and undergarments, people can also use padding to help create a more even appearance. This may include inserts that can be placed inside clothing or specialized padding designed specifically for the hip area. By using padding, people can help to fill in any indentations or dips and create a smoother, more even silhouette.
By combining these non-surgical options, people can help to minimize the appearance of hip dips and feel more confident in their own skin. Whether it's by choosing clothing that flatters their body type, using shaping undergarments, or incorporating padding into their daily routine, people have a variety of options for improving the appearance of hip dips. Of course, it's important to keep in mind that everyone is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. But with these options, people can find the solution that works best for them and feel more confident in their own skin.
Hip dips are a common and normal part of the human body and cannot be changed through exercise alone. While exercise can be used to improve body composition and create a more toned appearance, there are limitations to what can be achieved. Surgery and other non-surgical solutions, such as wearing clothing and padding, can also help to improve the appearance of hip dips. Ultimately, it is up to each person to decide what solution is best for them, based on their individual needs and preferences.
"Bottom line ... PUN intended, there is nothing wrong with you if you have hip dips. While current social beauty standards may make you feel otherwise, often hip dips are associated with more athletic body types."
Why did I spend all of this time writing this long ASS blog post about hip dips? Because I was tired of seeing fitness influencers online tell you to do 1000 reps of leg lifts in hopes that it would "fix" you. I have hip dips myself, and I'm positive I spent 5 out of my nearly 20 years as a personal trainer trying to fill them in with muscle when I too wasn't educated enough on human anatomy in my early years as a personal trainer.
While I eventually had a level of acceptance that this is just my anatomy (one side even more than the other which is embellished by mild scoliosis), I do find that some styles of clothing just don't work with my body shape, so shapewear does come in handy from time to time.
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Do I still work hard on training my butt, abso-glute-ly! Have I seen a change in the shape of my butt, YES! Will I ever look like Kim Kardashian? Sure, if I wanted to undergo plastic surgery but for me, the risks far outweigh the benefits and I have embraced the different styles of clothing that ARE flattering to my body that maybe the person with the hourglass shape feels they can't wear.
I've worked with enough women over the years to know that we all envy each other. People don't notice my hip dips, they see my long slender legs and wish that they had that. I look at the same people back and see their curvaceous butts and wish that my butt looked like theirs.
At some point, you do just have a level of body acceptance and just work with what you have girl! Show off your best assets and be proud of all of your hard work at the gym!
If you need help with growing your booty or just want to learn how to feel your best hit me up by email at any time or slide into my DM's on Instagram. I work with clients from anywhere in the world via online coaching so drop me a line and let's get you feeling great!
I also offer a 12-week Glute Fitness Program through my Love Your Bod Fitness Program
>>> Click HERE to Learn More about my 12-Week BUTT Fitness Program <<<
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery 2015 Procedural Statistics http://www.surgery.org/sites/default/files/ASAPS-Stats2015.pdf Accessed November 29, 2016.
Micaela Whitworth, CFT, CNS
Personal Trainer & Online Fitness Coach