I’ve been getting a lot of questions on hip mobility lately, so I figured it’s time for another “Hip Pointers” column. (Here’s my initial blog on the topic: Hip Pointers Part 1.)
Here are three more hip mobility tips to follow to keep your lower body and core healthy while increasing your strength gains at the same time:
Hip Pointer #1: Do Banded Half-Kneeling Stretches
You can try and use JYM Bands for this type of stretching, but I’ve found monster bands work a little better for the stretches I’m going to talk about. Most gyms have monster bands, but if your gym doesn’t have them, you can get them online at Amazon.com and other websites that sell fitness gear.
Loop your band around a sturdy object, like a squat rack or pole. Put your leg through the loophole. Then sit into a half-kneeling stretch. The non-band leg should be positioned at a 90-degree angle, while the band leg is kneeling on the ground behind your hips. As you hold this stretch, lean forward slowly, letting the band pull your leg back.
This will really loosen up your hips. I recommend going with a lighter JYM band or monster band as it will be a lot tougher to lean forward if there’s too much tension pushing back on your leg with a heavier band.
Here’s a photo of the stretch:
Hip Pointer #2: Don’t Skimp on Your Warm-Up!
I’ve seen it and I’ve done it. It’s a squat day and your warmup consists of going to the bar and taking some light reps with it. This is the worst thing you can do for your squat efficiency. Squatting engages your entire body (if you’re doing it correctly), so you need to get everything firing beforehand to perform the squat efficiently.
My warmup for both squatting and deadlifting (which I’ve recently fixed) consists of seated rows, PVC pipe pass-throughs, light weight behind-the-neck presses, bridges off the bench, light lunges, hip abduction with a band or my slingshot, and light air squats.
Also, 9 times out of 10 the reason why people have trouble hitting a certain weight or have trouble hitting depth is due to poor mobility. Lacking good “form” really means you have a weakness in that lift you need to correct. In most cases, the reason for poor squat or deadlift efficiency is weak glutes and hamstrings, as well as poor mobility (or one or the other).
Think about it: We’re all quad-dominant because we walk and sit down all day. If you just go into a squat or deadlift working set with a warmup of light reps with the bar, you’ll be a quad-dominant squatter or deadlifter because you haven’t properly told your glutes and hamstrings to lift the weight by getting those muscles firing.
Hip Pointer #3: Practice External Rotation
The best way to keep your hips open throughout the entirety of a squat or a deadlift (especially sumo deads) is to practice external hip rotation.
What does this mean? Let’s talk about the squat. When your knees cave in during a squat it’s because you lack external hip rotation, which in essence means you’re internally rotating your hips – you NEVER want this during a squat. If you keep your knees pointed outward the entire time, you’re externally rotating.
Here’s what to do: Before you even descend into your rep, think about “screwing” your feet into the ground. If you do this correctly, you’ll feel yourself squeezing your glutes. This is what you want. If you have external rotation, your hip mobility already increases. So if someone is yelling “knees out” at you as you’re coming up out of the hole in a squat, you probably didn’t set up correctly in the first place. Practice external rotation as you’re setting up with the bar on your back.
Give these three “hip pointers” a shot before squatting or deadlifting (or pretty much any workout) for the sake of mobility. I know hip mobility is an issue for most people, including myself. I’m constantly learning new techniques, and I love sharing them with you all as I learn, so stay tuned for a possible Hip Pointers Part 3!