Hip Dips: What They Are, Why We Get Them, and How To Get Rid of Them

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

hip dips

Got “problem areas” that you're looking to target when working out? Is one of these areas the depressions that can form along the tops of your outer thighs, known as “hip dips”?

What exactly are hip dips and why do you get them?

Hips dips are the inward depression along the side of your thighs, just below the hip bone. Some people call them violin hips.

Instead of the outer edges of your hips following curves, they have indentations.

These indentations may be barely noticeable, or they could be rather prominent.

They are actually a normal part of your anatomy.

However, if you tend to have more fat distributed around your hips, this could make these indentations more prominent.

Hip dips occur where the skin is attached to the deeper part of your thigh bone.

The amount and distribution of fat and muscle in your body will make hip dips more or less noticeable in some people.

In addition, hips dips can be more or less prominent due to the width of your hips and the shape of your pelvis.

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Hip Dips are Normal!

So to start out, let's set the record straight. Hip dips are normal!

Hips dips are formed where your pelvis meets your femur or thigh bone. Everyone has this normal indentation.

However, some have more noticeable hip dips based on the shape of their pelvis.

If you want to decrease the appearance of hip dips, there are exercises to help you burn fat and tone the muscles around your outer thighs and hips.

While you can never spot reduce fat in an area, you can strengthen the muscles and tone your outer thighs to help decrease the appearance of hip dips.

And by incorporating a few compound exercises you can burn calories and overall body fat, which will have long-standing health benefits along with trimming the fat around your outer glutes and thighs.

Losing Fat Around the Hips Benefits Overall Health

While you may be looking to lose your hip dips based purely on aesthetics, the truth is that losing fat around your hips is something that will improve your overall health.

So this is not just something to do for looks!

Research has found that even people who are normal weight have increased cardiovascular risk factors if they have increased fat around their stomach and hips.

These risk factors include increased cholesterol, higher blood pressure, and higher blood sugar.

This means shedding fat in these areas is essential for not just improving your outward appearance, but also in reducing your risk for chronic disease.

A study from the Journal of the American Heart Association found that losing leg fat was directly associated with beneficial changes in cardiovascular disease risk markers.

Increase Lean Muscle to Decrease the Appearance of Hip Dips

Losing fat around your hips will help decrease the appearance of hip dips, but you also want to strengthen and tone your outer glutes and thighs.

And just like with fat loss, increasing your lean muscle mass will not only help you look and feel great, it will also benefit your overall fitness.

Research has shown that resistance training has numerous health benefits, including improving cardiovascular risk factors.

This is achieved through better insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure, and an improved cholesterol profile.

In addition, resistance training can increase bone mineral density, which lowers your risk of osteoporosis, and also decreases chronic issues like low back pain.

If you are looking to make your hip dips look less prominent, you will need to decrease fat and increase lean muscle mass.

Let’s start at the beginning — to lose fat you will need to burn more calories than you consume.

You may think that cardio is the only way to burn enough calories to lose weight, but that is far from the truth.

Both cardio and strength training are essential here.

A lower-body resistance workout can burn a significant amount of calories, and the benefits for fat loss don’t stop there.

By building lean body mass you will be increasing your metabolic rate at rest so that you are burning more calories throughout the entire day.

Step one to losing those hip dips!

10 Strength Training Moves to Tone Your Thighs and Decrease the Appearance of Hip Dips

While you can’t spot-reduce your thighs or hips, these are great strength exercises that will build overall lean body mass while toning up these areas.

These also incorporate compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups to burn some serious calories that can help you lose overall body fat and tone the muscles in your thighs, glutes, and abdominal muscles.

By strengthening these areas, you will minimize the appearance of hip dips.

1. Farmer’s March

  • Hold one dumbbell in each hand with your arms by your sides.
  • They should be heavy enough that you need to engage your core, arms, and upper and middle back muscles to hold them.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together while contracting your abs.
  • Bring your left knee up as high as you can, keeping your foot flexed.
  • Step forward and repeat with the right leg.
  • Walk 50-100 feet forward, then turn around and walk back to complete one set.
  • Do three sets to start.

2. Fire Hydrants

  • Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly underneath your shoulders, and your knees directly underneath your hips.
  • Make sure to keep your weight evenly distributed between your hands and knees.
  • Keep your knees bent and lift your left leg up so that it makes a 90-degree angle from your right leg.
  • Then lower your leg back down.
  • Keep your knee from touching the floor before you lift it again.
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps.
  • On the last rep, pulse your leg 10 times in the upper position before lowering.
  • Then repeat with the right leg.
  • You can use a resistance band behind your knee for this exercise to really challenge yourself.

3. Dumbbell Squat

  • Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart, holding a dumbbell at shoulder level with palms facing inward.
  • Slowly bend your knees and squat down, keeping all the weight in your heels.
  • Don't let your knees move beyond your toes.
  • Press through your heels and slowly straighten your legs to stand up.
  • Repeat 8-10 times for three sets.

4. Curtsy Lunge

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Take a step back with your left leg, crossing it behind your right.
  • Bend your knees and lower your hips until your right thigh is nearly parallel to the floor.
  • Then push your back leg up to return to the starting position.
  • Complete 10-12 reps on one side.
  • Then switch to the other side and repeat.

5. Glute Bridge

  • Lay on your back and bend your knees while keeping your feet flat on the ground about hip-width apart.
  • Bend your elbows to 90 degrees so that only your upper arm is on the ground.
  • Press your lower back down into the ground to help you protect your lower back and engage your abs as well as your glutes.
  • Drive up through your heels and upper back to lift your glutes up off the ground.
  • Drive your hips up as high as possible without arching your back.
  • Squeeze your glutes for a second or two at the top and lower all the way back down to the ground before repeating.
  • Aim for 10-12 reps.


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6. Leg Kickbacks

  • Come onto your hands and knees with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
  • Extend your right leg out straight.
  • Then, slowly lift this leg up as high as it will go.
  • Lower your leg back down to the floor, but don’t allow your foot to touch it.
  • Do 15 reps.
  • On the last rep, keep your leg lifted so it’s parallel to the floor.
  • Pulse your leg up and down 15 times.
  • Then repeat on the opposite side.
  • You can add a resistance band to this workout to make this even harder.

7. Side Leg Raise

  • Lie on your right side and raise your left leg up to about 30-45 degrees and hold for a pause at the top.
  • Then slowly lower the leg back down to meet your bottom right leg.
  • Do 8-10 reps with the left leg, then flip over to lie on the left side and repeat 8-10 reps with the right leg.
  • You can add a resistance band to make this exercise even tougher.

8. Side Lunges

  • Stand with your knees and hips slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Take a step to the right.
  • Keep your toes pointed forward and stay low.
  • Extend the left knee, driving your weight to the right, flexing the knee and hip into a side lunge.
  • Pause at the bottom, and then extend and push up through the left leg to return to a standing position.
  • Then repeat to the right.
  • Do 8-10 reps on each side.

9. Lateral Walk With Resistance Band

  • To do this move start in a shallow squat position with your legs hip-width apart and feet parallel.
  • Make sure you have a long length of space to walk down.
  • Place a looped resistance band around your thighs just above your knees.
  • Take one step to the right at a 45-degree angle while staying in a low squat position.
  • Then step to the left at a 45-degree angle in the same crouch position.
  • Repeat for 10 steps with each leg.

10. Step Up to Reverse Lunge

  • Stand with a step between 6 to 18 inches in front of you.
  • Start at a height that you feel comfortable stepping onto.
  • Step up onto the step with your right foot, then bring your left foot up behind you and up towards your chest while balancing on your right foot.
  • Hold this single-leg stance for a moment.
  • Then move the raised left leg back to the ground.
  • Step back with the right foot so that both feet are now on the ground where you started.
  • Do 8-10 reps on the right, then switch and repeat on the left.

These exercises are great for hip dips because they target all areas surrounding the hips.

In addition, compound movements are incorporated that target multiple muscle groups at once — inner and outer thighs, glutes, and core.

That means you are burning more calories, increasing lean muscle mass, and strengthening your legs all at the same time!

That also means decreasing the appearance of hip dips!

Reduce Hip Dips and Improve Overall Health

While these exercises can help you decrease the appearance of hip dips, it is important to remember that these are a normal part of your body structure.

This means you will never completely lose your hip dips-and that’s okay! Everyone has these!

However, if you are carrying excess fat in your midsection, glutes, and outer thighs this can make hip dips appear more prominent.

In addition, excess fat in these areas is also detrimental to your overall health.

So it is important to strengthen and tone these areas along with the rest of your body.

Holly Smith, M.D.
B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Holly is an osteopathic physician, runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast.

She is board certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelors degree in dietetics and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, olympic distance triathlons, half marathons and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

She has also recently qualified for the 2020 World Championships for Ironman 70.3, in New Zealand!

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If you’re a busy mom who wants to finally lose weight, get healthy, and actually keep the pounds off for good, this is the simple program you’ll love sticking to…

Our Fit Mother 30X Program (FM30X) is the answer you’ve been looking for. Inside FM30X, you’ll receive:

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on hip dips.

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