We hinge all the time. From picking something up off the floor to sitting into a chair. We do it so often that sometimes we take this movement for granted.
The hip hinge is designed to work your posterior chain, which includes the glutes, hamstrings, and low back muscles. The movement of the hip hinge involves keeping the shins as perpendicular to the ground as possible while moving your hips posteriorly (backwards). To accommodate for this movement, your spine will also go into forward flexion.
You know how some people always insist that you should squat without your knees going past toes? What they are advocating for is a hip dominant squat, or a hip hinge. While the latest evidence do not suggest that knees tracking over your toes is inherently bad for you, being able to hinge is still an important skill in a lot of exercises.
You can find the hip hinge in exercises such as the kettlebell swing, squats, deadlifts, barbell rows. Proper technique is always important in these lifts. It can help us maximise the benefits we get out of our workouts, and also improve our daily function. In that sense, you can consider it a form of functional training.
Here are four unique exercises that can help you to learn how to properly execute a hip hinge.
1. Kneeling Hip Extension
- Attach band onto a low anchor point and step into band, facing away from anchor point. Place band just below your hip bone and get down on both knees, shoulder-width apart.
- Slowly walk your knees forward till you feel the tension of band pulling you back.
- Begin by sitting your hips back onto your heels, then thrust your hips forward till it is fully extended.
- Hold at the fully extended position for 2-3 seconds while actively contracting your glutes.
- Slowly relax into the resting position.
2. Hinge with dowel between hip crease
- Stand with feet hip-width apart and grab onto a dowel, holding it right in front of your body with both arms extended.
- Push the dowel into your hip crease.
- Slowly, push your hips back as you continue to keep the dowel firmly seated within the hip crease. Your upper body should be slightly leaned forward as you lower your upper thighs close to parallel to the ground.
- Now, release both hands from the dowel and allow the hip crease to cling onto the dowel firmly. Hold for 3-5 seconds before standing back up and repeat.
3. Modified Roman Chair Squat
- Set-up a pair of safety bars on a squat rack, just slightly below knee level. Place a barbell at the edge of the safety bars(to prevent barbell from rolling) and 2 big weight plates on the floor, 1 feet in front of the barbell.
- Stand shoulder-width apart between the weight plates and the barbell, with back of knees and front of toes supported against the barbell and weight plates respectively. Cross your hands over your chest or hold them straight out in front of your body.
- Begin exercise with your back straight and your head up, initiate movement by sliding your hips back and slowly bend your knees till the point and your upper thighs are parallel to the ground. Do not round your back throughout the movement.
- Push off with your heels to straighten your legs and return to a standing position.
4. TRX Assisted Squat
- Grab a pair of TRX handles around chest height and stand with feet shoulder width apart.
- Start by initiating the movement from your hips, and slowly sit back till your upper thigh becomes parallel to the ground.
- Keep your shin perpendicular to the ground throughout and your body should lean slightly forward.
- Stand back up by pushing your hips forward , without placing too much pressure on the arms.
The ability to control a hip hinge movement is extremely important for optimal mechanics during weight training, running, cycling, daily activities and more. Always remember, these drills/exercises aren’t just for gym-goers. They are for everyone. So, let’s spend some time each day and keep practicing!
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