Hip Function: Anterior Muscles

The hips are arguably the most important joint to develop, as they play an integral role in daily life, exercise, and physical performance.

For example, the extension of the hip can move thousands of pounds, propel the body up and over obstacles, and move the body at speeds greater than 25 miles per hour.

But running, jumping, and lifting are just a few of the hip’s unique abilities. Its structure allows for stability when we’re standing and its range of motion allows for mobility in every direction.

Over the next few days, I will address the largest and most powerful muscles in the human body: those at the hip. I’ll start today by addressing the anterior muscles.

Superficial Muscles (Close to the Skin)

Rectus Femoris

The rectus femoris is the only muscle in the quadriceps muscle group involved in hip flexion. The rectus femoris works simultaneously with the iliacus, psoas, and tensor fasciae latae in hip flexion. When you squat, these muscles do not actively contract to pull the body down; gravity does that. Rather, the rectus femoris and other flexors act eccentrically to control and stabilize the movement.


The sartorius muscle is the longest muscle in the human body. It assists in four different movements: flexion, abduction, and lateral rotation at the hip, then also flexion of the knee. If you pick up your foot, bend your knee, and move the sole of the foot to a position where you can see it, the sartorius will be carrying out all four of its functions.

Deep Muscles (Close to the Bone)


The iliacus is a flat and roughly triangular-shaped muscle. If you are lying with your legs straight and you sit up, the iliacus assists in this motion. If you bend your knees while lying down, you have pre-shortened the iliacus, and it can no longer contribute to sitting up. The iliacus can also contribute to rotation of the femur.


The psoas attaches to the lumbar vertebrae (low back). Because of this, a tight or very sore psoas can cause low back discomfort.

An interesting note about sit-ups, if you are lying with your legs straight and you sit up, the psoas assists in the movement. But if you bend your knees (knees facing the cieling), you have pre-shortened the psoas, and it can no longer contribute to sitting up.

Obturator Externus

This is a small, deep muscle that attaches pubis and ischium. The obturator externus is involved in external rotation of the femur, but it functions primarily in keeping the head of the femur in position. During hip flexion, the muscle also stabilizes the hip joint.


*Images and text inspired by this journal publication.


EMOM x 20 Minutes:
Min 1: 10 Single Arm Bent Over Rows (Each Arm)
Min 2: 15 Hand Release Push Ups
Min 3: Max Reps Alternating Box/Chair Step Ups
Min 4: Rest

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