When talking about athletes, posterior chain training is probably one of the most talked about topics by strength and conditioning coaches. Every gym across the country is replete with glute ham raises, lower back training machines like the reverse hyper, bands for good mornings and list after list of various exercises to train abs, hamstrings and the lower back.
But what about the joint that connects your upper body to your lower? The hips. You don’t see coaches teaching their athletes to do hardly, if any, hip exercises to increase strength. Often times, even stretching the hips is forgotten. Athletes will stretch their quads, hams and glutes and be done with it.
When you watch most athletes go from a static position to active, they often start from a hip dominant position. Football players start in the 3 point stance, where after the snap, their hips help push them into an explosive position. Basketball players, when jumping go into a squat position and explode upwards, using a lot of their hip strength to reach maximum vertical. Sprinters launch from the blocks using their hips again as a way of pushing off the blocks and transitioning into a sprinting position. The list goes on and on. In almost every sport you can find a situation where hip strength is invaluable.
Keep in mind, hips are not the only muscle in the posterior chain that should be trained, nor are they soley responsible for the force created from the above listen positions. That said, they are often the missing link. The muscle group that when trained in addition to the hamstrings, glutes and spinal erectors, makes for an extremely explosive athlete that can produce a very high amount of force from a given position. This often translates to faster 40 times for football players, higher verticals for basketball players and lower sprint times for track athletes.
At Superior Athletics, every lower day includes at least one hip dominant movement. The majority of which have been suggested to me by Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell. Louie is constantly running ideas and suggestions by me that always turn out to be helpful in my quest to better my athletes in their sports.
One of the most common exercises that we do for hip strength is the ultra wide stance stiff legged deadlift. We have the athletes take a very wide stance, with toes pointed outwards. While keeping their legs almost locked, they reach down and deadlift the bar up. A lot of emphasis is put on squeezing the glutes together and pushing the hips forwards at the top of the lift. Normally this is done for 3-4 sets of 4 reps. Variations of this can be done with either bands or chains. This is an accessory exercise done after DE or ME squatting
Another powerful movement is wide stance box squatting. Athletes who have especially weak hips will squat with a ultra wide stance, again with toes pointed outwards, down to a parallel box. This stance is most often used on DE squat day and then we transition back to the normal power stance for ME work.
A somewhat newer movement that Louie has come up with is wide stance push offs, using a belt squat machine. We attach the athlete to the belt squat machine, again have them take a wide stance, and then push off from side to side while keeping their legs straight. With this movement, the athlete will feel most of the work on the side of the hips, almost right on the joint. Most gyms do not have a belt squat machine, but this movement can be almost replicated with band tension in a power rack and looping the bands through a belt. This is another movement used for accessory work for 4 sets of 15-20 reps. Check out the following Belt Squat Push Offs video.
Belt Squat Push Offs with Bands
Even when concerning conditioning work, we are looking for ways to train the hips. When dragging the sled we will have the athletes pull the sled with the strap looped on the side of their belt. Having them stay in a lower position and with their hands out in front of them, they side step. Trips are usually 80+ feet for 3 or 4 trips. Check out the following Side Sled Drags video.
Side Sled Drag
Also we have them pull the sled, bent over and holding on to the strap between their legs. Taking a wide stance and leading with the heel, the athletes will pull the sled again for 80+ feet for 3-4 trips. Check out the following Bent Over Sled Pulls video.
Bent Over Sled Pulls
Training hip strength is invaluable for athletes who require any sort of explosiveness. Strong hips allow them to better utilize the training that they put into the rest of their lower body.
By Travis Bell
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