It’s Time to Strengthen Your Strongest Joint
The Importance of Hip Strength and Stability
UpFit Training Academy
Jacob O’Connor, Brian Santanelli
The importance of strong and stable hips cannot be overemphasized. Whether it be for performance, aesthetics, or general health the hips should be a focus for the majority of personal training programs. The hips produce more force than any other joint in your body, this is where your greatest strength is stored!
The hips are integral for almost every lower body movement such as walking, jumping, squatting, and running. They are also essential for balance keeping us on our feet and assisting in movements such as twisting and throwing. Weakness or instability in the hips can negatively impact one’s low back, core, and lower body. Unfortunately, many of us do not have optimal hip movement many times due to a sedentary lifestyle. Unilateral movements do a great job of preventing uneven strength and development because they strengthen one side at a time. Here are some of our favorite unilateral hip exercises, we hope you enjoy!
This movement is loaded with dumbbells held at one’s side. While maintaining a slight lean forward at the torso participants will step backward into a lunge creating a 90 degree angle at both knees. It’s important to keep the hips underneath the body throughout the lunge. Reps can be alternated or done on each side individually.
Dumbbell step ups are also loaded with dumbbells held at the side. Participants will step onto a bench or step driving through the front leg until fully extended. It’s important to make sure the entire foot is mounted onto the implement before stepping. The same leg used to step up will be used to lower the body back to the starting position.
This movement is very similar to the dumbbell reverse lunge, the difference being how the exercise is loaded. The KB front rack reverse lunge is loaded with two kettlebells held in a front rack position. Because of the difference in loading, it’s important to emphasize tension in the upper body and a tall chest throughout each rep.
The kickstand RDL is loaded using dumbbells or kettlebells at each side. One foot will be against the wall, the heel of this foot will remain on the wall throughout the exercise. While maintaining tension in the upper back and lats participants will hinge forward towards the front leg. The kickstand RDL should be felt in the front hamstrings. Common mistakes include setting up too far away from the wall, letting the back heel come off of the wall, and losing tension in the upper body.
A staple in many personal training regimens, the walking lunge is loaded with dumbbells or kettlebells held at one’s side. Participants will lunge forward creating a 90 degree angle at each knee and keeping the hips stacked underneath the body. You can choose to reset between each rep or reps can be linked together in a fluent walk.
These exercises are great examples of movements you can do to strengthen your strongest joint! Prioritizing the hips can take your personal training or small group program to the next level. Taking advantage of unilateral variations is great for the hips as it’s not uncommon to see asymmetries in this area. Unilateral variations also have the added demand of balance which is important for all of us. These are simple movements that can be done with minimal equipment at home, we hope you try them out and enjoy!