The squat is one of the most effective muscle-building exercises, as well as one of the most common movements of everyday life. Unfortunately, many of us can’t execute a proper squatting motion.

It’s not because we don’t understand the mechanics, but rather because our hips have become locked down from our modern sedentary culture, where we spend much of our time sitting at desks or behind a steering wheel.

The result is a tight, inflexible body that will lead to injury. When your hip flexors are locked up, the body shuts down the glutes and makes the hamstrings less efficient. Tight hamstrings are a product of tight hips, which are a product of inactivated glutes. That’s one reason hamstring strains and lower back pain are so commonplace.

To get the most out of your squat—and to avoid injury—you want to work on opening your hips, counteracting the forces of everyday life. These 10 exercises, which open and stretch the hips, can be used as an active warm-up, especially during legs day, or a standalone workout, perhaps on a recovery day. Either way, if you perform this workout twice a week, you’ll improve your hip mobility and stability, making your squat more effective.

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