Updated: Aug 14, 2019
What is a hip hinge? What does it look like? What does it benefit ? How do you know you're doing correctly? Odds are if your're a beginning or even a novice in the lifting world you're doing them incorrectly and not getting the most out of this exercise. A hip hinge is what I refer to as a base movement, its a movement everyone should learn if they want to keep healthy hips and have a safe long gym life. Many people tap out of working out early on because of hip/low back issues. These issues could of been prevented if they had been properly taught to hip hinge and had developed strength in the surrounding muscles of the hips. A hip hinge is essentially what the name is, its hinging of the hips. We hinge at the hips for exercises such as the Deadlift, Squat, Romanian Deadlift ,Good Mornings, Glute Bridges, Step Downs, Single Leg Romanian Deadlift ,Hang Cleans and Cable/Banded Pull Throughs. What do all of these exercises have in common? They all work the posterior chain, the posterior chain is a series of muscles that work synergistically together. These muscles include the Erector Spinae (group of muscles that run the length of the spine), Traps, Rear Delts, Lats, Glutes and Hamstrings.
Why would we want to hip hinge? Well, it's same reason we want to do any other movement in the gym, to create strength and stability of the surrounding muscles and joints! The difference with the hip hinge is it can make or break you. If you don't have the mobility/strength to perform a hip hinge movement, other areas of you're body are going to compensate to make up for the lack of movement/strength in your hips. You know what takes the stress of stabilizing your body when your hips are too weak/unstable to do so? Remember that lower back pain we were talking about earlier? Well, when your hips lack range of motion and strength, your body is going to find another way to stabilize and that's going to be through the lower back muscles and you're hip flexors which really isn't ideal for anyone. Don't get me wrong! We want strong lower back muscles but we don't want them to be doing what our hips are suppose to be doing and that's stabilizing! Having full range of motion in you're hips can save you a lot of pain down the road because immobile hips will cause other joints surrounds the hips to compensate as well. Practicing full range of motion in our hips will keep them healthy! For demonstration purposes we will use the Romanian Deadlift as our movement to demonstrate a hip hinge. Now when you hip hinge does it look like once of the videos below?
1. Rounding of the upper back takes tensions off the hips and puts it on lower back and letting the chest drop allows the upper back to round. You will feel this in your lower back
2. Breaking at the knees first doesn't allow you to stretch your hamstrings maximally, and engages quads more than we want. The rounding of the upper back, again will put stress on the lower back. You will feel
this in your quads and low back
3. This one is very similar to 2 except it will be even more quad engagement because you're going down even lower using your quads.
When you hear or see hip hinge this is what I want you all to envision.
Flat Back, this will make sure the Glutes and Hamstrings are getting a full stretch and the back isn't taking all of the load. The shins are vertical indicating that a majority of the work is being performed by the Glutes and Hamstrings, not the quads. The chest is up to ensure that upper back positioning is correct. I have created maximal distance from the back of the knees(insertion point of hamstrings) to the underside of the Glutes (origin of Hamstrings). There should be a stretching sensation in you're hamstrings if you're doing this movement properly as well!
This can be challenging to learn but be patient and practice often! Many times people can't perform this movement due to mobility restrictions and you'll need to work that first! Everyone can hip hinge and everyone has the capability to do so. Learn this movement before you start doing squats or deadlifts if you're a beginner. If you're frequently in the gym this should be a movement you have mastered for your safety and to get the most out of you're workouts! Here are a few simple drills you can do to help yourself progress to using weights with the Romanian Deadlift . These are great variations to practice and learn to get the movement down!Give them a try. If you have any questions regarding this you can personally email me at Brandon@blinnfitstudio.com
Keep contact with the dowel rod at all times with the head,upper back and low back!
Keep contact with your calves on the bench the entire time through the movement!