Hip Opening With the Exercise Ball

Hip opening with an exercise ball.
Hip opening with an exercise ball. kristian sekulic/Getty Images

This hip opening exercise is an easy one that you perform with the exercise ball. It is great for toning the inner thighs. It can help get you in touch with the action of the hip muscles that primarily turn your legs outward, called the deep six.

While this exercise is easy, and we don't need to over-work the deep six. Tuning into the power of these hip muscles is an important key to having a sense of lift up out of the pelvis. These muscles also contribute to the freedom of movement in the hip, which is so valuable in all Pilates exercises as well as in daily life movement.

Equipment Needed 

You will need an exercise ball, of course. Your exercise ball should not be too high. It should be close to the height of your legs when they are in tabletop position.

You don't need any other equipment. You can perform this exercise at home, at the gym or at the Pilates studio.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time Required: 1 to 2 minutes

How to Perform the Exercise 

  1. Lie on your back and put the outside edges of your feet on your exercise ball. Put the soles of your feet together if you can. Your knees will be bent and open as far as you can comfortably take them.
  2. Keeping your feet together (as much as you can) draw the exercise ball toward you.
  3. Press your feet into the ball and use an outward rotation of your leg in the hip socket to open the front of your hip and push the ball away from you. It won't go very far. Engage your glutes (butt muscles) but do not squeeze them. You might feel an outward wrapping sensation at the top of your thigh and under your butt. You are getting your deep six hip muscles to work.
  4. Continue to rotate your legs outward and use that action to pull the ball in again. It is important the both the pressing out and pulling in happen because of the outward rotation and opening at the hip first, not because of the opening and closing of the knee. That will happen but it is secondary.
  5. Do 5 to 10 sets slowly.


  1. As with all Pilates exercises, keep an awareness of your overall form. Your shoulders are down, your chest is open, the backs of your arms are pressing lightly against the mat, your spine is in neutral; and there is a little smile on your face, of course!
  2. If you put your hands on your inner thighs you can feel them working. If you don't, make them work!
  3. You should also learn about the importance of activating the deep six hip muscles. These muscles lie underneath the big gluteus maximus buttock muscle. They are hip stabilizers and hip extensors. They are used in walking.
  4. Other exercises that work the deep six include any beginning with the Pilates stance where the feet are turned outward with the heels together. This naturally is used in various Pilates footwork exercises, including footwork on the mat, standing, reformer or chair. Exercises that use frog legs also involve the deep six.
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