To put it simply the hip hinge is the flexion and extension of the hip joint. A vital skill for squatting, deadlifting and kettlebell swings as well as explosive movements such as Olympic lifting and sprinting, it is also useful in cycling, rowing and pretty much anything else that requires the hip to extend.
For some reason hip hinging is a skill, rarely practiced; and hardly ever taught at the beginners level. Learning this under practiced, yet vital skill can not only add kilo's to your lifts, increase lower limb power, increase glute and hamstring strength it can also reduce the risk of injury.
Hip hinging requires a good amount of neuromuscular co-ordination; to allow your hips to sit back (the hip flexion part) with a minimal amount of knee bend, maintain a flat back and maintain core integrity. Then to extend your hips, your glutes and hamstrings contract pushing your hips forward extending your hips.
As simple as this movement sounds the amount of neuromuscular control, core stability and focus required is immense, especially when learning. Once you've mastered the movement pattern, you can then transfer the skill onto many variations of the hip hinge such as , romanian deadlifts and single leg hip hinges.
One of the best ways to learn this movement is to do it with a wooden broom handle, dowel or piece of plastic pipe. It doesn't really matter aslong as it's light and can run the entire length of your back.
How it's done.
1. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and your toes pointing forward, with your knee's slightly bent. This position should remain the same throughout the entire movement.
2. Engage your pelvic floor, brace and stand tall.
3. Place the dowel on your back, being held in place with your hands. Ensure it's touching the coccyx and runs up your spine, between shoulder blades and touches your upper back.
4. From the standing position, sit your hips back remembering to keep your legs straight. Your torso should flex forward at the HIPS not the waist. Go as far as you can till you your hamstrings stop you, or you feel the dowel move away from your back. Stop in this position and feel balanced with your feet flat on the ground and most your weight in your heels, about 70%.
5. Extend your hips back into the standing position, by pushing them forward. Avoid hyper extending and don't loose core intergrity.
A few things to look out for.
Flexing at the waist. If the dowel moves away from the coccyx then you'r likely to be flexing at the waist. You'll need to re-set and start again.
Bending the knee's. Once you start flexing you might notice your knees bending to help lower the torso, if this happens stop reset and start again.
Extending through the back. This is tricky to spot on your own, so getting a partner might be useful. This is when during extension the movement comes from your spinal erectors and not the glutes. Your partner can spot this by watching very closely and seeing if the initial movement is coming from your back, by noticing if your chest or spine extends first.
To start with, practice 3 sets of 5 reps. Which may seem low but the concentration levels are high, and if you are getting more wrong than right, then five perfect reps seems to be more of an achievable number. Look to increase reps week on week, until you can perform 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps perfectly. Once achieved you can start adding on additional weight.
It's a skill that can be practiced everyday, so get yourself a broom and practice, practice, practice.