It’s All in the Hips!

By: Andrew Goring, CSCS

We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s all in the hips,” but you may find yourself asking – what does that really mean? Whether running, jumping, throwing or even golfing, hip extensions are the most powerful human movement in athletics. Most fitness programs train hip extension through a combination of hip hinge exercises like squats, deadlifts, hip bridges, and kettlebell swings, but many struggle to perform the proper hip hinge movement altogether. If you can’t hinge at the hips properly you’ll reduce the amount of power output you are able to transfer to hip extension and your faulty movement pattern will also put you at a greater risk of injury.

The hip hinge movement is often confused and performed as the squat movement. In a proper hip hinge, we move primarily through the hip joint, pushing the hips back while keeping a neutral spine and the knees slightly flexed. In contrast, a squat has a relatively even ratio of knee and hip movement. This limits the stretch reflex of the glutes and hamstrings which reduces their contribution to hip extension.

Before you practice your next hip hinge exercise – use this simple 3-Point Hip Hinge Guide to make sure your hip hinge posture and movement is correct. Simply by using a PVC pipe with the below movement, you’ll get instant feedback on correct form. Common errors like squatting or rounding your back will make the PVC pipe lose contact with one of the three points. This lets you know whether you’re doing it right or wrong.

• Grab a PVC pipe and hold it vertically behind your back with one hand behind your head and the other behind your lower back.
• Hold the PVC pipe in a straight line, touching the back of your head (point 1), your upper back (point 2) and the top of your glutes (point 3).
• Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
• Tighten your abs and glutes and tuck your chin.
• Slowly push your hips back and lower your chest toward the floor, making sure the PVC pipe stays in contact with the back of your head, mid-back and glutes.
• Lower yourself until your torso is near-parallel to the floor or until you can’t keep your back straight. You should feel a stretch in the hamstrings as you lower your torso.
• Reverse directions by driving your hips forward and squeezing your glutes.