A strong hip joint positively impacts the function of the entire body. It is a complex joint. However, for purposes of this discussion it is enough to understand that it is a ball and socket joint which enables the hip to flex, extend, abduct, adduct, internally/externally rotate and circumduct. Each of these motions possible at the hip joint has a desirable degree of strength and range of motion about the joint that we should strive to maintain throughout our lives. Consequently, training the entire hip joint (i.e., 360 degrees), performing movement patterns, skills/drills and exercises which simulate the functional actions, across all three planes of the body, as well as targeting specific aspects of the joint, should be an integral component of your exercise program.
This week, however, a classic posterior hip joint exercise will be featured. There are a plethora of exercises that strengthen the posterior hip joint; however, the one highlighted this week, the supine hip extension exercise, is “classic” due to the functional elements of the exercise, and that it may be performed just about anywhere by just about everyone. This exercise may be performed without external resistance so you may be able to perform this exercise at home and tips for how to progress and regress, when necessary are provided, enabling you to experience a strong, functional, and healthy hip joint for life. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Warm-up for 5-10 minutes prior to beginning the following exercises bringing your RPE’s (ratings of perceived exertion) to a 1-2 which is very light to light exertion. Use large movements such as knee lifts, side legs, leg curls, step touches, etc.
Posterior Hip Exercises (targets the gluteus maximus/ hamstrings as movers and hip abductors/adductors as stabilizers and nose to toes core)
Glute Bridge/Supine Hip Extensions
- Begin lying supine with the legs flexed at the knee joint, the soles of the feet on the floor, and the legs approximately shoulder distance apart. The head/neck/shoulders should be in neutral alignment, rib cage lifted, navel pulled toward the spine, bracing the abdomen and the pelvic floor pull up and inward.
- Engage your gluteus maximus and hamstrings by pulling your buttocks together, driving your heels into the floor, and then lifting the hips toward the ceiling leading with your pubic bone, maintaining the natural curvature of your lumbar spine throughout the exercise.
- Continue keeping the gluteus maximus and hamstrings engaged and lower the hips toward the floor without touching down.
- Slow two counts in each direction, no momentum use.
- Perform this exercise two-three non-consecutive days/week, 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions to a point of momentary muscle failure.
- This is not a pelvic thrust, it is a slow, controlled, precise and deliberate movement pattern.
- To progress the intensity, place your heels on the top of a 4–12-inch step/bench/BOSU/Strongboard/stability ball, perform the exercise in this position, master it, then you may consider adding light-heavy dumbbells/body bars/sandbags or barbells, placed on your hips to increase the load you are lifting. **When adding the external load, return to the beginning floor position and progress accordingly.
- Avoid permitting the external load or position to compromise the lumbar spine. If you have progressed either by modifying your position (i.e., your body in relationship to gravity), adding external load or both, then “regress” by eliminating the chosen progression until you are capable of performing the exercise safely and effectively.