How To Get Rid Of Hip Dips (Ultimate Guide 2018)

Shelley Darlington in a colourful bikini

Hip dips (violin hips) are the latest body image fad to storm the internet. But we’ve seen it all before with ‘thigh gaps’ & the equally insane ‘bikini bridge’ craze. So what exactly is a hip dip (violin hips) and how can you get rid of it? Read on…


Let’s just get one thing clear:
so now that we’ve got that cleared up. Let’s move along shall we?

What Is A 'Hip Dip' And Why Do You Have One?

First off, I want to just clarify something - all lower body exercises will grow your leg muscles to some extent. Some more than others. Your lower body is made up of these 4 muscle groups: quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. Even the almighty exercise of the booty gods, the trusted hip thrust will activate your quads to some degree.

The problem is… you may be quad dominant.

If you’ve been squatting, lunging and leg pressing like a beast, (which means you’ve become strong through these movements), then you’re probably quad dominant. And that has an effect on your glutes ability to be activated and used in these exercises instead.

Like I tell all my clients, the glutes are the largest muscle in the body but also notoriously, the laziest. Meaning, if they can let any other muscle do the work for them, then by-golly, they will.

The result… a pancake butt with quadzilla thighs.

Ok, I exaggerate, but seriously, that’s how you feel. right?

**Disclaimer: I’m not saying squats are the devil. They are a great compound movement that work a whole heap of muscles and as a beginner lifter, it’s one of the most important basic moves that you should absolutely master.

Hip dips, violin hips, shelf hips, high hips, hip dents or in it’s anatomical terminology, ‘tronchanteric depression’, is the indentation on either side of your body between your hip and your thigh… and it’s completely normal! Millions of women have them & they are nothing to be ashamed of.

Having hip dips does not mean you are fat, ugly or deformed. Whether you have them or not comes down to…

Your Bone Structure

So how do you grow glutes without growing thighs?

Ok, hip anatomy 101:

Your skeleton is a wonderful thing. It allows you to stand up tall, run, jump, squat and all those other fun things that humans like to do with their bodies. The shape of your bone structure is what determines whether you have hip dips or, not.

It all comes down to the size of your hip bone (pelvis) in relation to your thigh bone (femur).

If you have a wider and higher pelvis, then you will likely have more of an angle on your femur. This creates more ‘space’ in between the top of your pelvis (ilium) and your greater trochanter (head of the femur), resulting in a more pronounced hip dip - see image.

Bulgarian split squats
Step ups
Leg press
Leg extension
Hack squat
Trap bar deadlift

If you have a narrow and shorter pelvis, then you will likely have less of an angle on your femur, meaning less of a ‘space’ and therefore, less of a hip dip - see image. This is why girls with an athletic build or a straight up-and-down shape, tend to have very little to no indentation.

High vs Low Body Fat

TIP #1 Lightweight glute activation

Where you are pre-disposed to holding body fat will determine how pronounced your hip dips are. This is down to your genetics and can’t be changed… just like your bone structure.

Some women might have the bone structure of wider & higher hips but also have a higher amount of body fat around their glutes and thighs with an even distribution. These body types will look like they don’t have hip dips at all, because their body fat actually covers and ‘fills out’ their hip dip.

Think hourglass stunner, Kelly Brook; ‘thick’ Rihanna in 2018; and plus size model, Ashley Graham.

But, some women have lesser amounts of body fat, which aren’t as evenly distributed and instead, sits in more isolated areas like the ‘muffin top’ - a band just above the hips and below the belly or, the ‘saddle bags’ - a band of fat that sits at the top of the thighs and just under the glutes.

It’s completely normal and healthy to have body fat in these areas, but if you have wider & higher hips, it will make your hip dips look more pronounced - see image.

Keep it light at first. If you go too heavy off the bat, you can bet your bottom dollar that those killer quads will take over. So grab a band (this is my favourite brand) and start focussing on your mind-muscle connection. This is key to start developing those buns! Remember how I said the glutes are lazy sons-a-bitches? Well, you’ve got to coax them into firing up.

There are a ton of activation exercises you can do like butt squeezes, lying leg abductions, seated abductions, butt planks and clams. Start with a 10 minute drill and don’t forget to squeeeeeeze the bejesus out of those buns! Click here to see my favourite go-to glute activation circuit. And that leads me onto the next tip…

So, How Do You Get Rid Of Hip Dips?

First of all, let’s make something crystal clear: you cannot get rid of hip dips completely… and that’s ok!

No amount of exercise can train away your bone structure.

But there are some things you can do to minimise the appearance of indentations and accentuate rounder and fuller hips but, before we get into it…

**WARNING: There’s a ton of confusing mis-information out there from so-called ‘fitness gurus’ who will have you doing some very dubious exercises, that will do nothing for your hip dips and in some cases, will accentuate them even further!

What To Avoid

There are two opposing camps when it comes to hip dip targeting.

On one side, you’ll hear people saying you should do specific exercises to target the gluteus medius (one of the three butt muscles) and the quadriceps (thighs).

On the other side, some people say you need to target one of the main muscles of the hips, the tense fasciae latae or ‘TFL’ for short.

I say, they’re all WRONG.

The pelvis and all the intricate muscles of the hip area are complex. So before you go off in your pursuit of hip dip destruction, listen up!

Don't Target The Glute Medius!

I’m a huge advocate of glute training to build a fuller, rounder and stronger butt. So it may come as a shock when I say this… but targeting the gluteus medius will only make your hip dip look more pronounced!

That’s because it is the most upper and outer muscle of your butt and it sits just above your hip dip. So if you do exercises that target this muscle to make it develop and grow, it’ll only make the indentation below it look even bigger.

Same goes for your thigh muscles. If you concentrate on doing exercises that are only going to isolate and grow your quadriceps, then your hip dip will look deeper because of it.

Think of it like an optical illusion.

Don't Target The TFL!

This teeny weeny muscle of the hip sits right in the space of the hip dip. And that’s why people say that if you target this muscle with exercises that will make it grow, you’ll be able ‘fill out’ the hip dip and make your hips look smoother and rounder.

Sounds logical, right?

But there’s one little problem with this… the TFL is not a muscle that you can target and ‘grow’. Because it’s primary function is just to stabilise the hips so that you can do things like walk, squat and jump.

I mean, you never hear bodybuilders talk about a well-developed TFL, do you? Nope.

But, you do hear physiotherapists talk about it to clients in rehab due to injuries or dysfunction.

Trust me, if you just smash your TFL with all sorts of crazy isolation exercises during every gym session you will 1) be severely disappointed when you get ZERO results and 2) probably just irritate the muscle so much that you end up with hip pain or some sort of dysfunction from overuse.

So what’s the answer?

Go For Overall Glute Development

Targeting the glutes from ALL angles and developing the WHOLE hip area is going to give you a much better chance of growing rounder and fuller hips to minimise the appearance of hip dips.

And the king of all glute exercises that you absolutely must make a staple in your routine is the HIP THRUST. It has been proven time and time again to be the most superior exercise for glute strength and growth.

It primarily hits the gluteus maximus which is the largest of the three butt muscles. But in order to really minimise those hip dips, you need to target the OUTER part of the gluteus maximus… this is how you truly create the look of rounder and fuller hips.

And lucky for you, this hip dip workout is crammed full of exercises that do just that! Click here to watch it now.

Lifting weights will tone you up, make you strong and give you that awesome hourglass shape you want. But the truth is that it can only do so much… because here’s the real solution you’re looking for…

You Can't Out-Train A Bad Diet

Doing all the right exercises will only get you so far, if your diet is appalling! So if you want to give yourself the best chance at minimising the appearance of your hip dips, you’ve got to lose any excess body fat in those ‘trouble areas’ (‘muffin top’ and ‘saddlebags’)… and the only way to truly do that is by cleaning up your diet!

So ditch the processed & packaged foods, take-aways, alcohol and sugary snacks. Replace them with nutrient-dense whole foods and drink plenty of water.

But remember, you cannot spot reduce body fat. So wherever you’re genetically pre-dispositioned to hold most of it, will also, always, be the last place you see it go!

#4 You Lose Out On ‘Me’ Time
#3 You Lose The Benefit Of A Targeted Program
Men Don’t Know What We Want
Don’t underestimate this one. It’s last in the list for very good reason.

Because part of lifting weights is that it’s a time to ‘zone out & zen out’. You have to be laser focused to get the best results. Solo training and focused mind-muscle connection will take your progress to new heights. It requires you to become really in-tune with your own body, which is hard to do when you’re partnered up during your workout - especially with the one you love.

Plus, it’s empowering af to truly become the master of your body and start owning the weights room like a boss. I encourage every single one of you to adopt this mantra when you step into the gym, ready to smash your workout:

“Who run the world? GIRLS”. Yes, Queen Bey. YES!

But aside from the physical gains of lifting weights solo, the real benefit is how it affects your mental wellbeing. It’s a form of meditation and a chance to let go of any negativity you may have been holding onto. Nothing cures a bad day like popping the headphones in, whacking a bit of Beyonce on and sweating it out with a solid glute session.
To get real results and those Coke bottle curves, you need to be on a targeted program with goal specific exercises that suits your unique needs. Doing the same workouts as your partner, will be doing you no favours.

I bet he missed the memo on ‘operation grow-a-booty’ and had you doing bench press like a bro.

Eek! I don’t know about you, but defined pecs is NOT something I aspire to have (to each their own, of course - whatever floats your boat). But I’d like to keep every little bit of womanly bosom I can #hellofitnessbyebyeboobies which is why I NEVER specifically train my chest - watch this video to learn more.

You see, building a fit hourglass figure isn’t as simple as just throwing some iron around. We respond to different training stimulus compared to our male counterparts. So let’s put this myth to rest once and for all, because…

Lifting weights doesn’t make you manly, training like a man makes you manly.
Men and women have very different body goals when it comes to sculpting our limbs in the gym.

You want to look like a fit Lara Croft. He wants to emulate Arnie circa 1974. See the problem?

I’m a big advocate of whole body strength training (yes, that means training your back, too ladies) but as a female, we want to hone in on our womanly assets and target our problem areas.

I’m talking booty, abs & thighs. Am I right?

Chances are hubby has a big hulk-like back and bulging biceps. But does he know the best way to get booty gains without bulking up your thighs? I think not.

And how about the best activation exercises to build a fuller, rounder & perkier butt? Hmm…

Or, does he know how to get a toned, flat tummy without thickening your waist?

Which is why #3 is so important…
Ok, Captain Obvious. While this might be a no-brainer, it’s worth mentioning as the #1 reason why couples workouts don’t work.

Put simply, men might know how to train themselves, but they have ZERO clue how to sculpt a female body… especially when it comes to growing those glutes (unless you’re Bret Contreras - read his ‘Best Glute Exercises’ post here).

Even if your other half is a personal trainer by trade, you still shouldn’t train with him. Because while he might know his text book stuff, being in tune with the female body, is something that only a fellow female can relate to.

Yes, our bodies are different anatomically, but we also have to contend with hormone fluctuations and menstrual cycles… and when you throw that into the mix, things can get a little tricky for our male counterparts.

Which leads me onto the next point:
#1: Men Don’t Have The Anatomy Of A Female

One Final Thought

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look your best and you should never feel bad about wanting to change something that you don’t like about yourself.

But please remember that having hip dips is completely normal. I have hip dips. So do millions of other women. It does not mean that you are fat, or ugly or deformed. It is merely the shape of your bones… your genetic make-up.

Instead of hating on them and wishing you didn’t have them, why not embrace them? They are what make you, YOU. Nit-picking at body parts will never make you happy, so try to look at them from a different perspective.

Did you know that wider hips is seen as a very attractive quality by many people? Celebrate that! I know that many narrow-hipped athletic build ladies out there would be very envious of your curvier shape. It’s a case of ‘the grass is greener’.

Embrace what you’ve got and see your hip dips as something to start loving, instead of a body part to be ashamed of. Focusing on what you like about yourself, rather than the things you don’t, will make you happier along your journey and it will help you get to your goals faster!

Remember… You are beautiful just the way you are!

Get fancy with glute isolation variations that hit the booty from all angles for that 3D round effect. But if you feel it in the quads, ditch it!
Of course, we still love our men to bits and impromptu couples workouts can be fun, but if you’re looking for real results and finally achieving the confidence and body that you deserve, then it’s time you checked out the no BS approach with the Strong By Shelley Program
before you get all giddy and start planning some crazy booty workouts, just remember… there’s no point in doing these fancy isolation variations unless you master the first 3 steps beforehand. Some of these moves require a certain level of mind-muscle connection and training maturity. So if you feel these exercises anywhere but the butt, make stick to band or bodyweight only or hold off entirely until you feel the glutes doing the work rather than the quads. Baby steps. Get the basics right first and your tush will reap the rewards later down the track.

​If you found this article useful, please ​tell me so! I'd love to know what you struggle with most in your glute training. Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Happy glute training! x

4 thoughts on “How To Get Rid Of Hip Dips (Ultimate Guide 2018)”

  1. This was VERY helpful to me! I have been hyper-focused on my gluteus medius because of this. I have been hip thrusting, but worried about hypertrophy because I just found out I have an anterior pelvic tilt, inactive glutes/quad compensation, & my left glute especially won’t turn on and is underdeveloped. So I feel like I’m starting from day one…but I reallty want to shapen up my booty and make some gains!!!

    1. Hey Lauren! I’m so glad this helped you 🙂 The key to glute strength and growth is first and foremost learning to active the gluteus muscles with activation exercises. Even before you get to weighted hip thrusts! Because if they are weak and inactive, no matter what ‘glute focused’ exercises you do, other muscles like your quads will inevitably take over and do all the work instead!

      Anterior tilt is very common and if only slight then it’s nothing to worry about (most people are anterior tilted). You may have very tight & shortened hip flexors & psoas muscles so I highly recommend that you start some sort of mobility/flexibility practice like yoga. Poses such as hero, camel, dragon and pigeon are great to release this area and will give you the mobility that you need in order to get full range of motion in exercises like the hip thrust so that you can fully contract the glutes without stressing the quads further. Also avoid over doing any exercises that further stress the lower back, which will also be shortened and tight if you have anterior tilt. Working on core strength is also important for this.

      One of the first steps of really learning to activate the glutes is to master the posterior pelvic tilt (PPT) – basically the opposite of an anterior tilt – so that you can get maximum contraction of the glutes i.e. pushing the hips forward, squeezing your cheeks together as hard as possible and bracing your abdominal muscles.

      So grab yourself a booty band (or bodyweight too is fine) and focus on exercises like hip abductions, clamshells, bent over kickbacks, lying hip abduction, butt plank, fire hydrant, single leg hip thrusts and glute bridge. Keep the reps high, focus on squeezing the glutes hard and feel the burn! A few weeks of practicing this daily and you should definitely see good results!

      Hope that helps x

  2. Thank you for this article it was incredibly helpful. Till now – for the whole my life I was pretty sure that something is wrong with my hips and I desperately wanted to get rid of hip dips. Thanks to you I understand that it’s normal. Now I can do some exercises just to improve my overall appearance!
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Alona, So happy this article has helped you! Yes, hip dips are completely natural and nothing to be ashamed of! Just work on building strength and feeling good in your body. Every shape is beautiful 🙂

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