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Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to: Hip Hinge

If you deadlift (any variations), squat, do hip thrusts, bent over barbell rows, good mornings, perform kettle bell swings or heck...pick anything up off the floor then you need to know how to hip hinge.

So now that I should have everyone's attention….

The hip hinge is a movement pattern used in all of those exercises (and more) mentioned above but it's also one of the most poorly executed.  I know it's not quite as cool sounding as a sumo deadlift or goblet squat but if you can master the hip hinge I promise you, you will be able to perform these exercises with better technique and less risk of injury to your back.

The purpose of a hip hinge is to help load your posterior chain (glutes, hammies, hips), keep a neutral spine help you drive movement from your hips as opposed to your spine or knees.  This will help you move more weight safely. Who doesn't want that?

Using a wall is one of the first ways I learned to properly hinge from the hips.

-Stand a foot or two, facing away from the wall.
-With glutes squeezed and soft knees, pull your rib cage down. Keep your head in line with your spine.
-Imagine a rope tied around your hips and I'm pulling them back towards the wall behind you.  Only   your butt should touch the wall.

Using a dowel as my boss, Christa, demonstrates helps to ensure that your spine maintains neutral positioning throughout the movement.  If at any point your head, upper back or butt lose contact with the dowel you need to recheck your hinge.

Once you've nailed this unloaded (no weight) movement pattern down you can add resistance through additional variations like the hip thrust.  Check out this T Nation article for additional ideas.

You've got the hinge movement down, now what?  It's time to apply it to not only your lifts but your everyday life!

Check out my squat in the video below.  The first video on the left I hinge back at the hips to being my squat.  The video on the right I being the movement by bending at the knees first.  This is one of the most common squat mistakes I see in clients.

See the difference?

It's not just in lifting that this hinging movement should happen.  Many people "move through their spine" to pick up items off the floor, tie their shoes or even pick up 35 pound toddlers.  In fact, if you want to see how to properly pick something up off the ground… watch a young child.  They hinge at the hips first and squat down.  Where do adults go wrong?!?!

In all honesty which video do you think I'm more likely to injury myself?

If you've been omitting this step from your lifts/life you could find it hard to relearn but with repeated practice the hip hinge can become second nature to you.  Your lifts and chiropractor will thank you!

Your turn: When you're at home and no one is watching, are you hinging at the hips? :) 


  1. Great post!! I will have to practice this, in the privacy of my own home, of course :) I don't do any weight lifting but I do have a toddler that I am constantly picking up that I am sure am not lifting properly. I would never think of this! I love all your posts, they are very informative and I am always learning something new each time :) I love it!! I am so glad I found your blog!

  2. Great post. Most people are front focused which is why they end imbalanced great way to show the two.