The hard part is over. You made it to the gym and that is usually half the battle. Now that you are there, what are you going to do? This is where a lot of people get stuck but don’t worry, I’ve got your (hips) back, literally.
This is part four of a six-part series that focuses on the exercises that give you the biggest bang for your buck in and outside the gym. If you have missed the earlier parts, please click on the links below.
Part four – Hinge
Part 4- Hinge
Moving the hips like they were intended (flexion and extension) will make you a boss in the gym and your partner a very happy person. Yes, the hips are that powerful. A lot of athletic and gym movements have hip hinging as their base.
Plus, incorrect use of the hips is one of the major causes of lower back pain and hinging at the hips well keeps the lower back happy. Plus, as a bonus, hinging will help you look great in your favorite pair of pants.
But don’t worry girls, I didn’t forget about you.
This is the most difficult of all fundamental human movements to teach and do because.
- We sit on it way too much which leads to weaker glutes and hamstrings.
- A lot of people have a hard time disassociating their hips from their lower back.
- It is a hard move to “feel” when you do it, particularly if you are new to it.
The hinging variations below are listed from easy to more difficult. If you have never been taught or performed this before, please start at the beginning and progress slowly. Only move on when you feel comfortable and ready for the next exercise.
1. Wall hip hinges
Having a reference point in the wall shortens the learning curve because the wall will help you determine whether you are doing this correctly or not. Perform with soft knees and by keeping your chest up and shoulders down.
Make sure to keep a neutral spine and feel the tension in your hamstrings and not your lower back. Doing more reps is important here so do 3 sets of 15 reps. If your back, not your hamstrings are sore the next day, something is amiss.
2. Hip hinge with stick
Once you feel comfortable with the wall hip hinges, having the stick behind you makes sure you’re using your hips and not any part of your spine when hinging as your spine will lose contact with the stick if you’re doing it wrong.
If you struggle for feel while performing this, get side-on with the mirror to receive more feedback. More reps are important here also so perform 3 sets of 15 reps. If your back hurts the following day, re watch the video and perform in front of a mirror.
3. Wall hip hinge with stick
This variation emphasizes keeping the stick close which in turn trains you to keep the upper back tight and strong when you hinge because this helps keep a neutral spine. Plus, having the two reference points will dial in your form before you add load. Please use the same rep and set ranges as the exercises above.
4. Banded Hip Hinge
Having a looped resistance band around your hips helps pull you hips into a good hip hinge position and then provides resistance on the way up to finish off the exercise. Keep your shoulders down and chest up and perform this exercise with control as to feel the tension in your hamstrings on the way down and your glutes on the way up.
This is best done for higher reps in the 12-15 range to help you groove the movement and to get your prepared for two progressions below.
5. Resistance band pull throughs
This is performed with either a cable machine or band. The pull-through provides resistance for the entire range of motion and trains you to maintain full-body tension throughout the entire exercise. Plus, having the resistance behind you makes this variation lower back friendly. Choose a resistance that allows you to complete 3 sets of 8-12 reps with the form described in the video.
6. Romanian deadlift
This exercise is performed with either a barbell or dumbbells, but the technique remains the same. With the load being in front of you, it is important that you keep your chest up, and squeeze your armpits to keep your upper back tight, so the weight stays close to your body.
This will save your lower back from discomfort and will load the hips and hamstrings as intended. Start light and dial in your form and confidence with 3 sets of 12 -15 reps and then you can add load and do between 8-12 reps.
Learning and performing this move correctly is a lower back lifesaver that will save you from pain, discomfort and from those long waiting times in the doctor’s office. Did I happen to mention your butt will look great?
If you are looking for a program to get you back on track towards better health, I have a 6-week program ‘ Get Back in the Saddle that will give you an fantastic exercise foundation to build on. It can be purchased here.