Squats, lunges and step ups are fundamental leg exercises to help build your quads, hamstrings and glutes. But you are missing an important movement- the basic hip hinge.
Every time you bend, your hips act like a hinge to fold your upper body forward over your lower body. The hip hinge is a necessary and basic movement, which is what makes the hip and pelvic muscles so important for a healthy, full range of motion.
The muscles involved in the hip hinge are hugely important. A part of the posterior chain, they are the ones responsible for keeping you upright, moving forward (walking and running) and propelling you upwards (jumping and climbing stairs).
It makes your hip mobility important for daily life activities. You might not think about it but we use the hip hinge motion in picking things up from the ground to putting shoes on to a host of other things in your daily life.
The benefits of hip hinge exercises:
- Helps to strengthen your core muscles.
- Helps to improve balance.
- Improves athletic performance.
- Helps to do essential tasks like bending forward and picking up the objects.
- Helps to reduce low back pain.
- Improves lower body strength.
Try the bodyweight hinge. Grab a long wooden stick, dowel rod or a broom handle—anything straight and longer than three feet. Hold one end to the back of your head or neck and the other end at or below butt level. Straighten your back until you feel the stick along the length of your spine. Bend forward at the waist and see if you can maintain contact between the stick and your back.
If you have weak or inflexible hip flexors, the lower back will often round and the stick will break contact with your upper back. The motion will occur at the lower back joints as well as the hip joint.
Important to protect your back with the correct form. The hip hinge is a fundamental movement pattern found in exercises that can make you stronger and better.
The kettlebell swing is a dynamic exercise that is easy to perform incorrectly. Start with light weight at first. You can move to a heavy weight once you are in control of your full range of motion.
Stand with your legs slightly wider than hip width. Grip a kettlebell in both hands, letting it hang down in front of you. To begin, lower your body into a half-squat, hinging forward at the hips to bring the kettlebell back toward your butt.
Swing the kettlebell forward using only your hip hinge and arm muscles—tighten your core and keep your spine straight to avoid using your lower back.
Keep the kettlebell swinging all the way up until it is either at chest height or, if you’re going for a more shoulders-oriented workout, above your head.
As the weight comes down, hinge forward at the hips and let the kettlebell swing toward your butt again.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a neutral spine and head straight.
Hold a weight behind your neck. Bend your knees slightly but keep your lower back straight as you hinge forward at the hips, with your weight primarily on your heels. Lower your upper body until you’re close to 90-degree angle.
Using only the muscles in your hips and pelvis, push your upper body back into the starting upright position.
Romanian deadlift / conventional deadlift
The Romanian Deadlift or RDL is a simple hip hinge with the weight slightly in front of or to the sides of the body.
Slight bend in your knees.
You also can add a resistance band attached to an anchor for more of a challenge. You can do this with or without weights. It is a great way to focus on proper hip hinge form before moving onto any of the other exercises.
The bodyweight glute bridge is a simple movement that doesn’t require any weight and can be done from the ground. They are effective in developing hip strength, increasing your range of motion and strengthening the lower back, glute and hamstring muscles.
Lie on the floor with knees bent and feet flat. Keep spine in a neutral position while using glutes to power up so that you have a straight line from your head to your knees. Hold one count and then return to start. This exercise can be intensified by adding a barbell or dumbbell to hips. If using a barbell, make sure to put a padded mat between your hips and the bar to prevent bruising and pain.
Hip thurst off bench
Place your shoulder blades on a box or bench. With feet at hip width, knees bent to approximately 90 degrees and feet flat under knees, use your glutes and core strength to power into a full table top position. Keep chest and chin tucked down even at the top of the movement.
Cable pull through
This hip hinge variation can help develop the sense of a strong lockout position. Set the cable in the lowest position and attach a rope to the end of the pulley. Stand over top of the rope facing away from the machine. Grab the rope and walk forwards. Find a solid stance and hinge forwards, letting the arms get pulled back towards the cable.
Posterior chain muscles worked during hip hinge exercises
You can consider your butt muscles your body’s powerhouse. They make up the single-largest muscle group in the human body and are primarily involved in hip extension (thrusting your hips forward) and abduction (raising your legs out to the sides). They also help stabilize your pelvis and control side-to-side motion.
Connecting your knees and hips, this large muscle group on the backs of your thighs is responsible for bending your knee and helping extend your hips.
The gastrocnemius and soleus — the calf muscle connects the ankle and the knee and governs plantar flexion for pointing your toes.
The largest muscles in your upper body, the latissimus dorsi are your “wings,” and span from your pelvis and spine to your humerus (upper-arm bone). They’re hugely important for posture and most pulling motions.
Running along the length of your spine, the erector spinae help extends (arch) your back. They also work to stabilize your spine, promoting healthy posture and reducing the risk of vertebral injury.
Doing all of these exercises in the correct way can really lead to some impressive results. Incorporating these into your strength training exercises will help with everyday life as well as if you are into any sports-related activities. The main focus is to keep or improve your hip mobility.