One of the primary reasons people get injured during training or having trouble building the backside of the body (especially glutes) is that they haven’t mastered a specific movement patterns called the hip hinge! The hip hinge is arguably the most important movement pattern in strength training and basically involves sitting back with minimal knee bending and then “snapping” forward. By using the hip as a hinge for the lower and upper body we’re able to effectively engage the posterior chain – especially glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. This is especially important during the deadlift, the kettlebell swing, and other movements that are largely hip dominant. Even though the hip hinge can seem like a simple movement pattern, most people who are new to strength training and even many intermediate lifters, have difficulties performing a posterior weight shift through the hips.
Failure to hip hinge results in poor exercise technique
Why is the hip hinge so difficult to learn? Why is poor technique in hip dominant exercises so common? Let’s have a look at the primary reasons.
Sitting for most of the day can result in weak glutes, weak abdominals, tight hip flexors, and tight lower back muscles (aka “Lower crossed syndrome”), which makes it hard to do basic strength exercises correctly.
Many lifters tend to focus on the front of their body and train their quadriceps more than the glutes and hamstrings. This quad dominance then sets the stage for poor exercise technique in hip dominant exercises as the lifter will take the load off the hip extensors.
Wearing high heels can over time result in postural problems and signs of lower crossed syndrome as well as calf tightness and lack of ankle mobility.
Poor technique over time negatively effects muscle memory and makes strengthening a specific movement pattern more difficult and harder to perform correctly. Many gym goers consider the deadlift to be a dangerous exercise because of the technicality of the movement and massive amounts of weight that can be used. But the fact is, a properly performed deadlift with an appropriate amount of weight and sound core stability, is one of the most safe and effective exercises.
Want a Strong Backside and a Nice Shape to your Glutes, You must Master the Hip Hinge
A common training goal for most of the females I’ve trained over the years is that they want to emphasize their glutes and abdominals. Most are looking for some shape and roundness. Also, people always complain of knee or back pain. Poor technique is the reason your glutes are not active, round or strong. Proper technique is the key to prevent injury, reduce pain, and enhance the aesthetics you're looking for on your backside. You can keep squatting and deadlifting all you want, but if you’re not engaging the posterior chain correctly, you will never be able to develop the strong and sexy curves you’ve been hoping for.
Deadlift, swings, and other hip dominant exercises are great for building strong glutes, hamstrings, and back muscles. But, the majority of people at the gym aren’t getting close to optimal results from these exercises because they haven’t mastered the basic hip hinging pattern.
How do you Hip Hinge?
This fundamental movement pattern is not easy. The technique will take some time to learn. Practice makes Perfect! The best way is to push the hips back while maintaining a neutral spine. For some, that's a good start. To make it more concrete, walk over to a wall. While you stand about three inches away from the wall, facing away, try to tap the wall with your butt. To do this, you have to stick your butt out and hinge at the hips. Once you've done this from three inches, step away from the wall another inch and repeat the same movement. Finally, step another inch forward and execute a full hip hinge.You should feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings and your knees should only have a soft bend in them. Awesome! Hip hinge complete.
Here's a video from Dr. John Rusin. He's a great coach with regards to form and technique.
We mentioned the Kettlebell Swing and the Deadlift earlier. Check out Stacy here at the studio performing those two. The Squat is much different.