Ahh, the hip hinge. One of the most mangled up movements I see in the gym and one of the first movements I make sure my clients master. Deadlifts and Kettlebell swings are hip hinge movements, and I use these a lot!
Now I know some of you are probably saying, "But Nancy, aren't deadlifts bad for your back?" Well, yes they are.
Alright, let me clarify that. Deadlifts are bad for your back IF you don't know how to groove that hip hinge.
My back went into spasms just watching this guy!
Hinging at your hips will take the pressure off your back and place it more on your glutes and hamstrings. It also allows you to create force through your legs, not your back. This is important because it will save your back from injury when picking up a bag of dog food, your groceries, or a small child.
As a child, I learned how to groove the hip hinge in gymnastics. One of the drills our coach, Nanette, made us do over and over again was the table top back. We had to bend at our hips, keeping our backs flat enough to rest a full cup of tea on top. We would have to hold this position as she went from gymnast to gymnast checking and correcting our form.
One way to help you learn how to hinge at your hips is to grab a dowel rod, or if you don't happen to have one of those, a broom handle will do just fine. Hold it so the rod lays on your spine & goes from the top of your head down to your bum. Bend over at your hips. If the rod comes off of your hips, you are bending (flexing) too much in your spine. If the rod stays in contact with your head all the way down to your hips as you bend, congratulations! You are grooving that hip hinge!
Another cue I tell my clients is to pretend I am pushing a table into their hips. They have to bend over the table, keeping a flat back and allowing their hips to push back to the wall behind them. In order to do that, that butt needs to go back first. Stick that bum out! Show them your ass-ets, ladies!!
Now, when lifting a weight or holding a weight, make sure you keep your lats locked. If you don't keep your lats locked, you'll end up looking like the guy in the video above. Don't be that guy.
So, what do I mean by "lats locked"? The lats need to be activated to keep your spine from flexing (bending) when gravity wants to pull that weight down. To lock the lats, squeeze your shoulder blades together and then draw them down toward your back pocket. Yes, your chest will stick out, but like I tell all of my StrongGirls, flaunt it, baby!!
I hope these cues help you better groove that hip hinge!! Keep practicing. Your back will thank you for it!