If you master just one exercise, this should be it

Have you ever performed a jumping, lunging, or squatting movement and felt pain or discomfort in your knees? Have you never missed a leg day, but still haven’t been able to fully develop your glute muscles? Failing to do this one movement properly could be the cause of both of these problems. And that movement is the HIP HINGE.

Even if you haven’t heard of the hip hinge before, you have certainly done it, or something close to it. The hip hinge is involved not only in athletic movements like squatting and jumping, but in every day activities like sitting down, standing from a chair, and bending to pick something up off the ground or, if you’re like me, to pet every cute dog you see.

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In all seriousness though, mastering the hip hinge is essential for reaching fitness goals and to performing activities of daily living. This is because hinging from the hips first during movements like squatting, jumping, landing, and deadlifting allows for proper glute and hamstring development and helps prevent those dreaded knee injuries by removing pressure from the knees.

To perform the hip hinge, hinge at your hips to sit back into your glutes while keeping your knees only slightly bent. It’s important to maintain a neutral spine by engaging your core muscles and only going as far as you can without arching your lower back. Keep your shoulders back and down and do not hunch over in your upper back. To come up, engage your glutes and hamstrings and thrust your hips forward. For a demonstration, click here or here.

A lot of people struggle with this movement, especially with keeping the spine neutral. Why? For one, sitting for hours and hours a day can lead to poor posture and weak core and posterior muscles (i.e., glutes and hammies). Wearing heals and doing imbalanced workouts that focus more on the front of the body are two more culprits.

If you’re struggling with the hip hinge movement, add some (or all) of the following exercises to your workouts to help strengthen the muscles you need:

  • Forearm plank
  • Curl up performed on a stability ball
  • Reverse crunch (knees at 90 degrees to modify)
  • Glute bridge
  • One-leg glute bridge

Awesome exercises you can do properly and effectively by mastering the hip hinge include:

  • Barbell squat
  • Romanian deadlift
  • Barbell deadlift
  • One-leg deadlift
  • Kettlebell swing
  • Plyometric jumps
  • Activities of daily living involving hip hinging and squatting movements

Happy hip hinging!!

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