5 1/2 Moves to Master the Hip Hinge

Photo Credit: Bret Contreras

Photo Credit: Bret Contreras


The hip hinge. It's the achilles heel for ninety percent of trainees. In other words, we all suck at it. Or at least we all sucked at it at one point or another. 

Luckily, that's not always going to be the case. Today I'm going to teach you 5 progressions to help you
learn the hip hinge to get you a better deadlift, squat, twerk, and better Saturday night activities.

Let's start with the most simple one:

Wall Hinge

The wall hinge is the initial hinging technique I use to help trainees learn the movement because it offers a simple, minimalist learning curve. Touch your butt to the wall, but keep your back straight.

For most, this is the only movement I'll teach because it's all they need, but for others, they need to spend more time understanding the movement and its mechanics to make it work for them.

It's important to note that I continually place my hands on my hip flexors and create a pinching movement. This is biofeedback for the connection between my abs and quads - the connection points for my hip flexors.

I do this as a reminder to contract the hip flexor muscles and push the hips back to the wall to provide the hinge instead of pulling and rounding my back to get my torso down to my hips.


Standing Hip Flexor Activation

During the deadlift, the role of the hips is pull the bar from the ground to hip height and most people would agree with that. But the hips also have another role, they need to flex to get down to the bar before lifting it.

This is a method I've recently adopted into my deadlift coaching because it teaches the lifter to consciously contract the abdomen and hip flexors and create tension throughout the whole movement instead of waiting until they're holding the bar to get tense.

They tend to be more focused on the movement and do a better job throughout instead of sloppily getting down to the bar, creating some tension when I remind them, and then ripping the bar off the ground.


KB/Plate Behind the Head Hinge

The plate or kettlebell is a small addition to teach you or your trainee to maintain an straight back position if it's been a struggle so far. One cue I like to use is "keep the plate flat against your upper back" when using the plate or "keep your elbows to the ceiling" if you're using the kettlebell. 

A simple reminder not to let the chest collapse downward to the ground.


pART 1: Band Pullthrough

About the most fun you're going to have with clothes on - at least in the gym anyways. Holding the band between your legs definitely looks funny, but it serves its purpose.

The tension is almost non-existent in the initial stage of the hinge, but once it's pulled forward to the hip's end range of motion, the tension should be at its max capacity...for a band. You should feel forced to squeeze your butt...glutes, to maintain that position.

This helps to reinforce the idea that hip movement - especially extension - comes from the glutes, not the lower back. If it's still a struggle, add in a 3-5 second hold at the end range of motion to get those glutes popping.

Here's your other half for those wondering why there are 5 1/2 moves instead of just 5. You can also do the pullthrough with a cable and rope attachment as seen below:



Landmine Hinge

Hump the bar. Literally. 

During the Landmine Hinge, the bar should travel in a straight, or close to straight, line up and down.

This variation works very well for newer trainees who have a tendency to let the bar roll away from them as they're lifting. If the let their shoulders roll forward, they're going to be more likely to lean into the bar and get hit by it. 

That won't be pleasant. So the bar acts as both a barrier and a reminder to keep the shoulders "packed" down. Think about shoving your shoulder blades into your back pockets. The hinge tends to be more instinctive here, since you really have no where else to go but back and forward.


All summed up, these 5 steps should help you become the Master of the hip hinge. It will still take time, but put these tools into practice and they should help.

Now go out and practice, young padawans.


Do Some Deadlifts

James Harris is the founder of Titanium Strength Systems, as well as the head writer and coach. He trains online and in person in Chilliwack, BC. You can find his writing around the internet on websites such as Muscle & Strength, The PTDC, Fitness Pollenator, PTBIZ, and Deansomerset.com.