In this guide you’ll learn:
- What are hip hinges & why should you do them
- Which exercises can hip hinges be applied to?
- Which muscles do hip hinges work?
- Best variations of hip hinges
What are hip hinges?
Hip hinges are an isolation move where you move your hips in a rolling motion from back to front, while limiting movement in other joints.
They’re great for building flexibility and control in your gym routines and help you perfect your form when doing exercises such as deadlifts or cable pull-throughs.
Oh, and they’re incredibly simple to do. It’s a move that can help your weightlifting technique but can also make you more agile and flexible so that movements required in the likes of iyengar yoga will become a breeze.
They also give you plenty of leg and hip strength, help to shape your glutes, and are great for preventing any future back injuries – so you can see why perfecting hip hings are so important.
Hip hinges can also boost any strength-building exercises where good technique is key to going further, harder and faster without risking injury. after all, if you don’t have enough flexibility in your hips you could be putting unnecessary pressure on your back and knees instead.
Learning to move through your hips smoothly and fluidly can improve your general mobility as well – so it’s a great way to prepare your body to work hard in every workout.
Aren’t hip hinges the same as squats?
No – they are very different to squats, even if they both work your hips. With squats you bend both your hip and knee joints, whereas with hip hinges you only bend your hip joint and keep the knee movement to a minimum.
When doing hip hinges, your knees remain stable while your push your glutes back, moving your hips in a rolling motion that strengthens your hamstrings and glutes while keeping your back straight, stable and protected.
Hip hinge exercises
Hip hinges improve flexibility and mobility in a wide range of exercises. This gym favorite can make your hamstrings and hips more agile, creating symmetry in your body that gives you a great base for conquering complex movements.
Hip hinges are especially useful for weightlifting, as the stable rolling of the hips while keeping the knees fixed helps take the pressure off your lower back in exercises such as deadlifts.
They can also prepare your body for any exercise that requires sudden movements, or puts pressure on the hamstrings or back muscles. Professional sprinters do hip hinges so them can get that extra 0.1 second lead coming out of the blocks as this exercise helps transfer power and movement better throughout the body.
If you take kettlebell classes, mastering hip hinges could really boost your technique and stamina. It can even help basketball players get into the perfect position for a jump shot, allowing you to perform explosive movements from a standing start.
In fact, they’re great for all kinds of strength-building exercises, and are effective are part of want warm-up or cool-down routine.
Hip hinges can also expose any potential issues with your muscles, revealing any weaknesses in your hip joints and core.
And they’re super-effective at loosening up your muscles when you’ve been sat down at a desk all day or have been inactive for long periods of time.
Which muscles do hip hinges work?
Hip hinges work your glutes, give your back muscles support and hone your hamstrings.
Learning to use your hip joints correctly can help in everyday situations. As we’ve all been told, you need to lift through the knees and not through the back. Hip hinges can help you perfect this technique and keep your form strong. The proper use of all your joints is key to maintaining a good range of motion, even if you’re not looking to improve your sporting performance.
Hip hinge variations
There are several ways to perform hip hinges, based on the results your aiming for:
Hip hinges against a wall
Stand tall with your feet shoulder width apart, about six inches away from the wall. Keep your chest up, shoulder blades pulled back toward the spine, and make sure your head is up and facing forward so your spine is straight.
Pull in your abs and slowly move the hips back until your backside touches the wall. Try placing your hands at the very top of your thighs, so you can feel the hips fold down on to them to make sure your technique is right.
Move further away from the wall when you’re happy you’ve mastered the above steps.
Hip hinges holding a pole
Hold a pole behind your back to make sure your back remains straight. The pole should touch your lower back between the shoulder blades and the back of your head.
Put one hand above your head with the other just below your hips. If the pole loses contact with any of these points when you’re performing the hip hinge, start again.
Hip hinges lying down
Roll up a towel under your neck – this helps your spine stay straight and supports your neck.
Place your hands on your hipbones or flat on the floor next to your hips. Pull your abs into the floor and lift one knee in the air directly over your hip into a table-top position. Return to the starting position, then repeat on the other side.
Focus on keeping your hips and spine still during the movement – you can make sure your hips aren’t moving by lightly resting your fingers on top of your hip bones.
Glut hip hinges
Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your arms flat at your sides, palms down.
Lift your glutes and lower back off the floor in a rolling motion, pulling in the glutes as you go. Slowly lower back down, one vertebrae at a time, until your glutes are back on the floor.
Are hip hinges difficult to master?
Hip hinges are a relatively simple exercise. However, you may struggle to perfect the hip hinge at first if your core strength isn’t as good as it could be. This is because you need a lot of control to maintain a neutral spine while moving the hips through their full range of motion.
If that’s the case, spend a little time strengthening your core with simple exercises like the plank. Preparation and technique is key to success, so take it slow and make sure your body is in the right position before you start.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, try some variations to ensure your hips are as flexible as possible, whatever form of the exercise you prefer.