The Fundamental Hip Hinge


The deadlift is one of the “BIG” lifts when it comes to training, and it builds low back strength better than any other exercise.  A deadlift done wrong, however, is potentially dangerous for back health and lumbopelvic hip function. As you have heard me say often, the hip hinge pattern is fundamental for long term low back health, and low back strength is an important component of back health and performance.  As such, mastering the hinge and the potential to load the deadlift is important for both prevention and performance.

There are two problems that I most often see in hip hinge mechanics.  The first is inefficient timing of the hips and torso.  When the torso continues to move forward after the hips are no longer hinging back, the torso ends up almost parallel to the floor, decreasing the mechanical advantage and increasing the load on the lower back.  The kneeling hip hinge is a great exercise to improve this timing.  The shoulders need to remain slightly ahead of the knees and move forward as a function of the hips moving back.

A second problem is what we often hear called “squatty deadlifts”.  While some forward movement at the knees is part of the deadlift, it is not a squat with the barbell in the hands.  If the knees move forward so much that the subsequent rep begins with the knees extending and the hips rising, optimal mechanics are perturbed.  Using band pullthroughs is a great way to focus on letting the hips drive the movement, with the shoulder moving back now as a function of the hips coming forward.

WATCH THE FULL VIDEO to see how these exercises are done.