Your hips don't lie.
When it comes to sports, everything originates from the hips. Whether you are running, jumping or rotating, the hips are always involved. They also play a big role in keeping the lower body in good, stable position. For example, they help keep the knees from collapsing inward toward one another in that nasty valgus position. This can make all the difference in helping prevent injury and boosting performance.
What are the Hips, Exactly?
"Hips" is a very broad term, but we are talking about the glutes (all three of them) and other rotators of the hips. Most of these are very small and don't normally get a lot of love, so today I will show you a few examples of how we can get them stronger and build endurance of that strength so your hips can help keep you in good positions even when you are fatigued.
1. Sumo Deadlift
Deadlifts do wonder for the hips, especially when we set up wide with a sumo stance. Set up close to the bar with a wide stance, feet much wider than hip width and turn your toes out a bit.
How wide your stance is and how much you turn your toes out will vary based on your body structure so play with it a bit and see how it feels. Drop down to the bar, grab it with a grip inside of your thighs, and bring your chest up tall. Try to keep your lats and abs tight, start to ease the bar off the floor until the "slack" is out of the bar and then explode up as fast as possible. Drive the hips forward and keep your chest up tall. At the top make sure to avoid arching your lower back hard. Control the bar on the way down and repeat.
2. Lateral Band Walks
Place a mini band or hip circle around the ankles, toes or on the thighs just above the knees. Which you choose will depend on the strength of the band or hip circle you have available. Start with feet together, a slight bend in the knees and hips, and toes straight ahead. Step out to the right, making sure to keep the toes straight ahead, and follow with the left. Ten to 12 steps each side will do the trick each set.
3. Monster Walks (Forward and Reverse)
This time we will be walking forward and in reverse with the band or hip circle placed around both legs, above the knees. Start with a slight bend in the knees and hips, toes straight ahead, and feet together. Step the right foot forward and to the right, follow the right foot with the left. Next, step with the left and follow with the right. Repeat for about 10 to 12 steps each side, then reverse it and step backwards and to the side until you get 10-12 each side.
4. Band Squash The Bug (Internal/External Rotation)
This exercise will be a throwback to your early tee ball days when your coach kept yelling at you to "squash the bug." Take a mini band or hip circle and place it around both legs above the knees. Spread your feet apart so there is tension on the band and move your right foot back slightly. Your right toes should be in line with the mid-foot of the left. Keep the left foot planted and lift your right heel up off the ground, rotate your right leg out just like you are "squashing the bug." Once you reach end range without moving the hips, left leg, or upper body, return to the start position and repeat. Set of 10 to 12 each side work perfect for this exercise.
5. Box Squats
I am a big fan of using wider stance Box Squats to build up the hips, it doesn't matter how you do them. Goblet, front rack, barbell on your back, or any other bar you have; they can all work. Set up in a slightly wider stance than you normally would use and point your toes out slightly. Sit back on to the box, which should be at least to parallel. As you sit back make sure to push your knees out; this is necessary because of the wider stance. Once you reach the box, sit briefly on the box and explode of it as quickly as possible.
6. Band/Belt Squat Marches
Nothing burns the lateral hips up quite like marches on a Belt Squat or using bands. If you have access to a Belt Squat by all means, use it. Most gyms however don't have access to a belt squat machine or pit shark so we will have to make due with some bands and a dip belt.
First, grab a handful of heavy bands and go to a squat rack. Set the j-hooks as low as possible and hook the bands across the j-hooks. Next put on the dip belt and loop the chain under the bands. Stand up, the bands should be trying to pull you down with quite a bit of tension. Keep your chest up tall and start to march, slowly lifting each foot off the ground.
Keep this going and play with the width of your feet. Do some wide, regular and narrow. You can even march forward and back. Keep this going for between 1 to 3 minutes. If you are just starting out keep the sets quicker.
These six exercises are more than enough to get your hips strong and keep them strong, remember you don't have to do all of them at once but one or two during your lower-body training sessions will go a long way. If you have any questions or need more tips, workouts, and exercises, send me a message on Facebook or Instagram, @johnpappfitness.
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