Learning How To Hip Hinge

Ooohhhh, the hip hinge! So many ways to make that look like a complicated pretzel squat. Seriously. Anyone who has ever taught someone how to complete a hip hinge movement will know what I’m talking about. It can be a difficult move to master for someone who is a) new to working out b) has only been squatting or unfortunately c) has trained their body to do it wrong.

Definition of the hip hinge (dun dun dunnnnn....):

It's basically a bend at the hip. In more complex terms it is a hip flexion during the downward movement and hip extension for the upward movement.

A couple of pointers

This movement is a folding in the hip, not in the spine. You’ll want to maintain a soft bend in the knee and you should feel a stretch along the hamstrings, however if you're flexible you may not feel this tug.

It is important to keep a neutral spine throughout the movement. To help maintain this you should have you chin tucked into your chest throughout the entire range of motion. I am definitely guilty of looking up while doing this movement. Just another reason why Brickhouse Gym is so great – they're not big on mirrors in their squat and deadlift areas. As Yoda would say: feel the move you must, see the move you must not.  Heh, I crack myself up.

When you’ll use the hip hinge

Movements that use a hip hinge include deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, kettlebell swings, olympic lifts etc. All used for the development of strong glutes and hamstrings.

One of the problems

A fair amount of people tend to exhibit quad domination. Now I’m glad to see someone with nicely developed quads, but what I’m actually referring to is someone who has let their quads dominate their movements. Quad domination can lead to and is sometimes due to poorly activated glutes and seriously tight hip flexors. Ayyecarumba!

Learn the hip hinge

  • Dowel Drill

-        Can be done with straight stick-like object (grab a broom if you’re at home).  This helps you learn to keep a neutral spine while bending at the hip. Make sure the stick is always in contact with the sacrum, the hand in your lower back, between your shoulder blades, the hand on your neck and the back of your head.

  • Band Resisted Hip Thrusts

-        I like this one because it puts emphasis on completing the movement with your glutes. The band pulls you back just enough that it reminds you to fully ‘push’ your hips forward by squeezing your glutes. It helps you learn to 'shut off' your quads.

You’ll want to warm up your legs a bit before trying these out since tight hamstrings can prevent you from getting a full range of motion. Ever notice how much easier it is to touch your toes at the end of a workout compared to at the start? My point exactly.

Improving the hip hinge:

Mobility, mobility, mobility. Practice, practice, practice. I don’t think I fully understood the importance of this until I started personal training.  Foam rolling and working on opening up the hips are great ways to improve your movement. Hips are often tight and glutes are often lax from sitting in chairs all day. So, get off your computer all ready.

Not sure how to work on mobilizing your hips? Well, that’s for another blog post. ;)


As always, like/share/comment and feel free to give me your feedback!