Hip Hinge Exercises and how it can improve your life

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Hip Hinge Exercises and how it can improve your life

Hip hinge exercises are specially designed to target the posterior chain, commonly known as the “backside.”

The targeted muscles include the gluteus maximus, erector spine (low back), hamstrings, adductors, quadriceps muscles, and the core muscles (abdominal), which aids with movement. With this type of exercise, you need a wooden dowel or PVC pipe.

Once you hinge at your hips, the spine remains neutral, and the bend must occur right at the hips. In case your lower back is performing the hinging or bending, this can trigger discomfort and limit the range of motion of movement. Remember that learning how to perform hip hinge exercises properly is a skill.

I know that it will likely take you several attempts to execute the hip hinge exercise correctly.

What are the benefits?

Hip hinge exercises are a basic movement pattern that will help you perform vital tasks such as picking up things and bending over, improving your life over time.

The exercise is also necessary for strength training movements such as barbell hyperextension, deadlift, kettlebell swing, straight-leg dumbbell deadlift, power clean, and many more.

Additionally, this type of exercise can also strengthen your core, which can help minimize back pain, improve balance, and better extension, flexion, and rotation of the trunk. Remember that if you have strong core muscles, it will boost your fitness level and athletic performance.

Hip hinge step-by-step instructions

  1. Stand with the feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart with the toes pointed slightly outward.
  2. Position the dowel vertically on your back. Hold one end with your right hand in the natural curve of your neck while the other end with your left hand in the small of your back. Ensure that the dowel touches the rear of your head, upper back, and the area where the low back meets the sacrum or butt.
  3. Transfer your weight to your heels and drive your hips backward to the wall behind as you hinge further at the hips. One way to better grasp how to do this, I suggest thinking about sticking your butt out behind you. While you hinge, the dowel must not lose contact with the three main points I mentioned in the previous step. If contact is lost, you are performing the move incorrectly.
  4. Lower your torso until it is halfway between vertical and parallel to the floor. Hold. Maintain a slight bend in your knees during the downward and rising segment.
  5. Reverse the motion by contracting your glutes and driving your hips forward and up to go back to the starting point.

What are the common mistakes?

Although it will take time and constant practice to completely master this type of exercise, I will share some of the common mistakes that you must be familiar with and avoid in the future.

Equating the move with a squat

The hip hinge exercises are not the same as performing squats. This is a typical misconception among many individuals, but by focusing on the joints involved in each exercise, you can distinguish the differences between the two.

While squatting, the knee joint determines the movement pattern. The motion starts at the hips with a hip hinge, hence the focus on the hips.

Not using the core muscles.

Hip hinge exercises will require you to engage your core through the entire movement. If you relax these muscles, I must warn you that you risk dipping your hips during a hinge, which dips your lower back. As a result, it will trigger pain in your lower back. If you continue to experience discomfort, it is best to stop and reassess your form.

Utilizing the lower back to hinge

A typical error is to bend or hinge with the lower back instead of starting the movement from the hips. I suggest utilizing the wall as a guide to lessen and even eradicate unnecessary bending at the waist level.

Allowing the dowel to lose contact with the body

Once the dowel loses contact with one or any of the three original points on your back, it simply means that you are not executing the move correctly. When your head loses contact with the dowel, you are likely moving your neck forward.

If you lose contact with the sacrum or low back region, you are flexing the spine too much during the movement. In case the dowel loses contact from your mid-back, it means that you are squatting at the knees instead of hinging at the hips.

Are there modifications to the hip hinge?

Hip hinge exercise can be a challenge for some, especially those who are just starting with a workout routine. This type of activity requires a lot of practice to master. In case you cannot execute it correctly after a few attempts, I suggest modifying the movement.

A simple way to make this exercise more comfortable to manage is to use the wall as your guide. I will share the steps on how to do this at home:

  • Stand with your back facing the wall, around 3 inches away.
  • Start hinging at the hips by tapping your butt to the wall. Remember that you must stick your butt out to do this.
  • Always keep your spine neutral and make sure that your back is flat.

With this short distance, I know that it will be easy for you to achieve. Once you can do this several times, I recommend stepping out another inch or two and do the same modified hip hinge. Continue to practice this arrangement until you are totally away from the wall and able to perform a full hip hinge.

Once you have mastered the basic hip hinge, you can make it more advanced. The ideal way to take this exercise to a whole new level is to use a kettlebell. I recommended starting with the kettlebell swing exercise and later on, progress to more challenging moves.

If you are up for it, you can put the hip hinge action by performing the deadlift exercise. In case you are just starting to get comfortable with this movement, I suggest using a light-based weight. Remember that the focus is on the form, not the amount of weight you can lift.

So, if you find it tempting to try out the heavier weights, I do not suggest it, for now.

Safety considerations

Once you experience discomfort or pain during any part of the hip hinge exercise, I suggest taking a break and assess your form or how you execute the movement.

You might need to adjust or reduce how far you hinge at the hips. In case the pain persists, stop the exercise, and consult a doctor or physical therapist before performing the exercise again. Always remember that the dowel is the ideal tool to help you maintain a neutral spine.

In case you cannot execute the hip hinge while maintaining contact with the dowel on the three main points on your body, I suggest working with a personal trainer or physical therapist first who can guide you through the steps with the right form until you can do it on your own

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