12 Feb The Importance of the Hip Hinge.

Hip-hingeThe hip hinge is an essential movement for performance training and if we don’t get this right, we won’t get the right movement pattern in many key lifts and exercises.

The hip hinge is the foundation for the kettlebell swing, but it’s also important for other exercises like squats, deadlifts, good mornings, barbell rows, kettlebell cleans, and kettllebell snatches.

It may also be a contributor to Olympic weightlifting, although my opinion is that the hip hinge in kettlebells is a very different movement pattern than the power position.

But, that’s an entirely different discussion.

What is it to have a proper hip hinge?

Well, we simply need to “hinge” at hip, meaning the movement or axis of rotation occurs around the hip joints.

Depending on the exercise performed, the degree of motion will change in the hip hinge.

For example, a barbell row will probably demonstrate more of a hip hinge angle than a kettlebell swing.

Also, one is static (the row) while the other is dynamic (the swing).

And, what makes the squat hip hinge different from the kettlebell hip hinge is the degree of knee flexion (or bending) that occurs.

In a squat, there will be increased knee flexion as compared to the kettlebell swing, in which there will be minimal knee flexion.

This is a very important distinction between squat and the swing as “the swing is NOT a squat.”

The proper hip hinge requires a few things.

It requires us to maintain a “neutral spine” and it requires us to have good pelvic mobility and control in the hip flexors and extensors.

Make no mistake, a poor hip hinge leads to poor mechanics in the high value functional exercises mentioned above,

It’s critical to get this important movement pattern established.

There are a few ways to do this.

One of the easiest ways to learn the hip hinge is with the dowel rod (or pvc pipe or something similar).

The use of a dowel rod basically forces the body to learn the hinge pattern.

Here’s how to do it.

  • Place the dowel behind the back while the athlete stands tall with a shoulder width stance and feet straight forward.
  • One arm is placed behind the low back and grabs hold of the dowel and the other arm is placed behind the neck and grabs the dowel
  • This is important: the dowel has three points of contact; the head, the thoracic spine, and the sacrum.
  • The athlete bends forward while sitting back with the hips and keeping the chest up.
  • The dowel must maintain the three points of contact throughout the duration of the movement.

This is the proper “hip hinge” that needs to be practiced and programmed so that it becomes automatic and natural.

I’ve found this to be an excellent primer if someone is having trouble hinging properly.

What I’ll have them do is practice this hinge drill, then immediately perform a kettlebell swing.

There’s also another simple drill I use to program the hip hinge for the kettlebell swing.

You basically place your hands in the fold of your groin and when you hinge as described above, your hands will sink into the crease of your hips as the hips drive backward.

It’s very easy and this really helps to pattern the hip hinge.

The hinge is essential, so we need to make sure we program this properly for maximum movement efficiency with the major multi joint, compound exercises.

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