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A Beginner's Guide to Leg Day: The Hip Hinge

Updated: Apr 5

Welcome back to the next part of the Beginner's Guide to Leg Day! This article will focus on another important move to learn: the hip hinge.

You might be familiar with the more advanced forms of the hip hinge, such as the deadlift, romanian deadlift, and various other exercises that involve picking up a weight off of the floor and standing up straight. The reason this move is so important is that it teaches you to use the muscles of your legs and hips to dominate the lift, while also teaching you to use your core and back muscles to protect your spine. This will prove to be invaluable as you learn this early and eventually learn more advanced lifts. If you master this move, you will have a lot more success in more advanced lifts that require total body strength and balance, such as squats and deadlifts. Even aside from the gym, you will see the benefits of learning this movement. Take for instance how you'll move when picking up a child or if you're doing chores around your house. If you strengthen your core, back and legs, the chances of injuring your back in everyday life will be greatly reduced, improving your quality of life regardless of your age.

Let's start with the setup for the hip hinge movement. You want to start standing up tall and straight, with your hands resting on the front of your thighs. Next, shift the shoulders back, and down, while pressing your arms towards your sides. Imagine you're pinning a ball between the inside of your biceps and your ribs. You should feel the muscles of your upper back contract and tighten up as they all squeeze together. Next, squeeze your abs, as if you were tensing up to be punched in the stomach. At this point your entire torso should be like a rigid board.

Now for the hinge movement. Start by pushing your hips backward with your knees slightly bent. Your torso will start to tilt forward as you do this. Now, it's very important that as you push your hips back, you keep your back straight and compact. This will keep the tension on your hamstrings and off of the back.

If you experience difficulty keeping your back straight during this movement, you might want to consider using a pole or pvc pipe against your back for a physical que to remember. You can also look at fitness poles or foam rollers. With these, you also get the added benefit of having tools that you can use for more than just the hip hinge, like mobility training for instance.

As you're moving your hips back, slide your palms down the front of your thigh toward your knees. If this done correctly, you should feel your hamstrings stretch as you get closer to your knees. It might not take long before you feel this tension. Once you do, use the tension in your hamstrings to bring yourself back up to a standing position.

Once you understand how to do this movement with just your bodyweight, you can start using light weights to increase the difficulty. Eventually, you can work up to using a barbell and use it to advance to the romanian deadlift. Just remember, get the movement down first before adding weight. You should mainly feel your hamstrings and abs working the most here. You'll probably feel your back working as well, but it shouldn't be the main muscle working here. Incorporating this exercise into your leg day not only builds strong hamstrings, but sets up a strong foundation for you to use in your other lifts. If you have any questions about this exercise or others, feel free to reach out to us on our website, Facebook or Instagram!

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