Key to Speed: Perfect the Hinge

-January 27th 2014- Learning and understanding a good hip hinge is one of the most important movement patterns an athlete can master. Whether you’re performing an Olympic lift from a hang position, kettlebell swing, any variation of a deadlift or simply out on the town “putting out the vibe”, they all have a great hip hinge in common. This fundamental movement pattern is the key to improving acceleration, change of direction and explosive power by increasing glute and hamstring strength, while protecting the lumbar spine (low back).

Unfortunately, this can be a very difficult position to teach an athlete. Athlete’s will commonly mistake lumbar flexion (rounding of the low back) or knee flexion (squatting) for a hip hinge. An exercise that I often use to help an athlete master this crucial pattern is the cable pull through. This is a fantastic exercise to help the athlete understand hip flexion and extension.

Begin by setting the pulley up in a low position and take grip of rope attachment with both hands facing away from the cable. Start in a tall, shoulder width stance with a slight knee bend. Before you begin the hinge, draw your shoulder blades back and down, brace your core and press your heels firmly into the floor. The movement begins by unlocking your hips and pushing your glutes back towards the cable column, while maintaining a straight neutral spine. The knee joint should remain slightly bent, with no increased knee bend through the entire motion. Continue pushing your hips back until your feel a good stretch through your hamstrings and into your gastrocs. Once you feel a good stretch, maintain a strong press through your heels and contract your glutes as you push your hips forward as return to tall standing position.

I always start my athletes with a slow 2-3 second tempo on both the flexion and extension to help perfect the movement pattern and to assure that when you extend your hips, you are forcefully contracting your glutes, not extending the lumbar spine.

Perfect this pattern and you`ll start to lift more weight, dodge more defenders and rip more rope!!

Wayne Burke

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