Hips Don’t Lie
I don’t know of too many sports out there where your “hips” aren’t one of the most important things to train and develop. I have watched thousands of sporting events up close and personal most of my professional life, and it is more than apparent that the athletes that have the best “hips” are generally the best performers on the field, court, or mat.
Now don’t get me wrong, by stating how important hips are, I am in no way down playing the important role of strength, mobility, power, and speed, just to mention a few…but in this segment, I am focusing more on an area that is often skipped over in training programs. Many times this important area is developed by accident through certain lifts and conditioning techniques, but it is something in my opinion that should still be focused on individually.
When I talk about someone’s hips, I am not referring to how they might look in their game shorts, or whether they compare to Jennifer Lopez in girth, rather I am talking about the ability of the hips to control, power and stabilize the athlete through his or her athletic endeavors. You will never meet a baseball player worth anything that does not have good hips. To strike a ball with any consistency, power and speed, you require great hips. A wrestler must always have hip control. Whether on top, bottom, or standing, dominant wrestlers always have the best hips. Football players need power, speed and control of their hips to have any success on the field. I could go on and on and cover just about any sport and relay the absolute importance of good hip development, whether it be golf, soccer, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, surfing, MMA, tennis, etc…
So what are hips? We use the term hips loosely in my opinion. Rather than listing individual muscles, when referring to the hips, I will talk in terms of movements and muscle groups to better explain the basis of hip control. Hips can be explained by understanding the control of the following areas:
- Control (stabilization and movement) of the hip flexors, extensors, internal/external rotators, and combination movements.
- Control (stabilization and movement) of the abdominal and low back musculature (i.e. Rotation, forward, backward, and lateral movements of the waist)
So how does one incorporate proper “hip” development into their training programs? Glad you asked. Without getting into specific program development which is a whole other topic, I will outline some different ways that hip development can be integrated into any program. With that said, please realize that I will only scratch the surface and there are many other techniques and exercises that can be done in this area.
Medicine Ball work
Medicine balls are weighted balls that are used to train strength and power movements among other things. Med. Balls are excellent for developing sports specific strength, and power, not to mention work on mobility in the hips. Any serious athlete should be working with weighted medicine balls at some point in their training.
The “core” is a term that has been used and abused to death out there. At any rate, working the core as most know it is another great way to train the hips. Usually this is more of an indirect way to develop the area, but none the less important. Low back, hip and abdominal stabilization, and certain movement patterns are worked during traditional core work.
Power cleans, squats, snatches, and dead lifts, just to mention a few, are great weight room exercises to get at the hips. These types of lifts, when done in the right way from a good plan, will build the muscles that control those hips in a very important manner. Large gains in muscular strength, endurance and power can be achieved in those areas from these lifts.
Certain mobility exercises will help the athlete learn correct muscle recruitment in this area, while also keeping the hips loose and mobile so proper movement patterns can occur. . Leg swings, butt kicks, knee to chest huggers, high knees, carioca, cradle walks, just to mention a few, are great exercises to help develop those important patterns.
I cannot leave out the fact that good skill development through practice is essential for developing the hip area. Practice puts it all together. Many times coaches out there practice their athletes without ever developing the hips prior. This can lead to injury, lack of control, poor mechanics, low levels of strength, and finally bad performances.
In summary, if you are an athlete or even a non-athlete training for life, incorporate exercises that target the hips. Get a good overall conditioning plan, and make sure your hips are taken care of. You won’t be sorry.