What I Learned from Shakira: Looking at the Hip Hinge
In 2006 the latin singer Shakira came out with the hit song My Hips Don’t Lie. If you haven’t seen the music video, believe me there isn’t any deception in those latin money makers. The same is true in the weight room “the hips don’t lie”.
With most athletes being quad dominate or knee dominate the backside is often just along for the ride. Even with exercises designed to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings, like deadlifts, you will see people shift their weight forward onto their toes to lift the weight like a squat, activating the quadriceps not the glutes.
The hip hinge is a corner stone of power and strength. This pattern is seen in the squat, deadlift, Romanian deadlift, rack pulls, hang clean and kettlebell swings. Just to mention a few.
With younger athletes it is important to teach them the hip hinge pattern early on in their lifting career. The problem isn’t that athletes want to use their quadriceps for their lifts, but that more of their body is taking the path of lest resistance. The body is smarter then we give it credit. It does what it knows best, which is lifting with the quads over the glutes.
Some of the ways that we can teach the hip hinge is by using cues. The main cues that are used are hips back, ass to the wall, or hump the air. The goal of all these cues is to have your athletes or clients engage with the hips first, not the knees. This will help prevent the knees from going over the toes, decreasing the shear force. Along with making your knees feel happy, you will be loading your backside to do some serious work.
Cues don’t always fix the problem. That’s why it is good to give exercises that will help teach driving the hips back. One of my favorite exercises to accomplish this is the cable pull through. The reason for this is that it forces the hips back by having the force of pull directly behind you. Your hips have no choice but back. The only draw back is it’s a little awkward if you make eye contact with any one else in the gym while performing this exercise. I like to think of it as showing off my sexual supremacy to the rest of my on lookers.
Other exercises that help hammer home the hip hinge are deadlifts, RDLs, and kettlebell swings (the only caveat I have with the KB swings is it’s a power movement and should only be given when the athlete has shown the ability to perform a solid hip hinge). I also have experimented with partial rep RDLs and have liked what I have seen so far, you can read all about partial rep RDLs from Wil Fleming.
Without a well endowed backside, Shakira may have never been the hit singer she came to be. Why is this? Because, if she did not have any hips to sing about, then there would be no song entitled “My Hips Don’t Lie”. When an athlete has a poor hip hinge, they often have week glutes as well. This is due to them never loading the hips and never finishing with the hips. When you think about it, the hip hinge is in many athletic movements. It plays a key role in jumping and running, which will increase your power and speed. There is not an athlete in the world that I know that doesn’t want to increase one if not all of theses abilities.
Take a closer look at the hip hinge. It could be the key to unlocking some unused strength. And maybe next time people will be asking, “How did you get all that ass in them jeans?”
Putting everything together: teach hips back, bend at the hips first then knees. Give exercises that will help athletes feel a proper hip hinge, like the pull through. This will lead to stronger glutes, which will increase your overall strength, power, and sex appeal.