Turn on your hips

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 9.38.01 AMHip Muscle Activation using a miniband…

The other title I could have used for this post is “how does something that looks so easy, burn my hip muscles so quickly?”

The answer is isolated resistance my friends 😉

Yes, this is a time when we actually do try to add resistance to overload one portion of the chain. In this case the lateral hip rotators (including the glute medius). As with all of your strengthening exercises, technique matters, perhaps even more so with these exercises because some of us have pretty good compensation patterns when it comes to stabilizing the pelvis and moving at the hip joint.

So let’s go through them.

You need a miniband or just a piece of light resistance band tied in a loop.

Place the resistance just above your knees.

1) MiniBand Squat or how to use your hips through range…

If you cannot see the video above, click HERE.

  • Position your feet hip width (or at your neutral squat stance – for some of you it might be slightly wider).
  • Without moving your feet, pull your knees apart (putting a stretch on the band) so your knee caps are aligned over your ankles.
  • Can you see (and feel) how this puts tension on your lateral hip muscles (the muscles on the outside of your bum cheeks)?
  • Now, maintain that ‘pull apart’ with the knees and slowly descend into your squat using a normal squat pattern, leading with your hips moving back as opposed to your knees moving forward.
  • Do 8-12 reps where you squat for 4s and take 4s to return to your starting position.
  • We use this in our base training phase and then as part of a dynamic warm up/muscle activation circuit.

2) MiniBand Monster Walk or how to control your pelvis while moving…

If you cannot see the video above, just click HERE.

  • The miniband is still just above the knees for this one.
  • You will stand with a hip width stance (not wider).
  • Imagine you are standing on two railway tracks that are exactly hip width. You are going to walk along those tracks keeping your feet over them even when they are not in contact with the ground. You will have to use your lateral hip muscles to maintain that position during the swing phase of your gait, when your foot is not on the ground AND you will have to use your lateral hip muscles on the weight bearing leg to maintain a neutral pelvis otherwise your hip will dip down on the swing leg side.

Although we call it a “Monster Walk” try not to walk like Frankenstein. Relax a little, try to make it somewhat fluid. Stay lose in the knees and make sure you land on your heel and roll off your toe as you walk, just like you would with your normal gait pattern.

  • Do 10 steps with each leg forward. Again, this is a great dynamic warm up/muscle activation exercise.

3) MiniBand Step Lateral or use your hips to move and stabilize…

If you cannot see the video above, click HERE.

You guessed it, the miniband is still just above the knees for this exercise.

We used to do the Step Lateral with bent knees sometimes and with poker straight knees sometimes (like in this video) – but after reading a review article from Mike Reinold showing that the glute med is more active with the hip flexed and the knee bent, we now always do it from that semi-squat ready position.

This one is tricky – if you find it easy and don’t really feel it working your lateral hip, then you are more than likely doing it wrong – especially if it is a new exercise for you.

  • The key is to keep your pelvis and shoulders level and your knees pointing straight ahead (do not let them pinch in at all).
  • For a lot of you it will feel impossible to perform the exercise without some sway from side to side (or what we call teeter-totter), so you tell yourself that a little bit is okay. You tell yourself that it is impossible to do otherwise; but you are wrong.
  • If you’re hips are strong enough and smart enough, you can do this exercise with your weight bearing side stabilizing your pelvis as you step with the other leg.
  • Take as small a step as necessary to maintain that neutral pelvis.
  • Do 10 steps each way.

So there are three exercises to get your hips going – don’t do them all at the same time – choose one or two for your warm-up or workout.

These exercises are a like rotator cuff exercises for the baseball pitcher, you want to introduce fatigue, but if you keep going beyond that into survival mode with your hip muscles burning, burning, burning – then you will be calling upon other muscles to come and help out. But we are not trying to train those compensatory muscles, so as soon as you feel a mild-to-medium fatigue set in, it is time to stop.


PS – woohooo – websites are all finally back up (as you can see) – thanks for your patience during the downtime.