Personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach Travis Hansen explains how to hip hinge – a fundamental movement in strength training.

If I was to select a single movement that’s performed incorrectly the most, it would probably be the hip hinge. It’s in our nature to take the path of least resistance, especially with training and movement, unless we condition ourselves otherwise. And the reality is that it’s just not innate to move from the hips properly – without proper instruction – for most people.

By default, intended hip motion can generally disguise itself as either lower or mid-back motion, leaving the powerful and intended hips stagnant and far less active. As a result, you will leave yourself vulnerable to injury and, in the best-case scenario, your performance in any lower-body strength exercise will be diminished to an extent.

If you want to make sure that doesn’t happens, check out the step-by-step guide below, so you’ll know exactly how to hip hinge with perfect form.

How to hip hinge

  1. Whether you’re squatting, deadlifting or jumping, the set-up is the same.
  2. Begin by ‘pre-setting’ your upper body into the proper posture: hips and chest out.
  3. Initiate motion at your hips, bringing shoulders down and hips back – imagine shutting a car door with your bum.
  4. Continue your descent, until you start to feel a lot of tension in your hamstrings.
  5. Once you reach your sticking point, hold that position and maintain form to gain a proper feel, awareness and comfort at that specific angle.
  6. Reverse course and return to your original position.

Benefits of the hip hinge

  • The hip hinge is a great ‘priming’ drill to help you learn how to initiate any bilateral lower-body exercise.
  • It provides a low-level stimulus for improving flexibility through the hamstrings and your mid-upper back.
  • The hip hinge is also a great drill in some lower-back rehab cases, and strengthens your spinal erectors in a functional manner.
  • It’s an excellent choice to program as a ‘recovery filler’ in-between working sets with just about any lower-body exercise. Research and real-world evidence has historically shown that performing some type of activity that activates opposing muscle groups can help reset muscle length and slightly improve performance in your next working set. The tactic also helps keep you engaged and more productive during your workouts, so that you make the most of every minute you’re in the gym.
  • Last but certainly not least, the hip hinge is one of the best low-level exercises for building both awareness and strength for practicing proper upper-body posture. This is vital, since the first challenge or force we encounter in movement is gravity. Set the neck, shoulders and back right and everything below that tends to follow suit.

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