7 Best Hip Hinge Exercises You Need for Big Strength & Fitness

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What are the best hip hinge exercises you need to master for strength and fitness?

According to functional fitness experts, there are seven foundational movement patterns that every exerciser needs to do.

Between them, these movements test and develop all your important muscle groups and joints.

Neglecting any of the “big seven” could lead to muscle imbalances, postural issues, and a less aesthetically pleasing physique.

The seven fundamental movements that every exerciser needs are:

  1. Horizontal push, e.g., push-up 
  2. Horizontal pull, e.g., bent-over row 
  3. Vertical push, e.g., overhead press
  4. Vertical pull, e.g., pull-up 
  5. Squat, e.g., kettlebell goblet squat 
  6. Hip hinge, e.g., Romanian deadlift 
  7. Rotation, e.g., cable woodchop

Some trainers also include lunges and weighted carries in this best of hip hinge exercises list to make nine basic movement patterns, which are also worthy additions.

Of these seven (or nine) movements, the hip hinge motion is arguably the most important, which is why it is this article’s main focus.

So, this article explains why you need to include hip hinges in your workouts and the seven best hip hinge exercises.

Table of Contents

  1. Hip Hinge Exercises – Introduction
  2. What is a hip hinge?
    1. How to Hip Hinge
  3. The best hip hinge exercises
    1. Romanian deadlift
    2. Good mornings
    3. Conventional deadlifts
    4. Single-leg Romanian deadlifts
    5. Kettlebell Swing
    6. Barbell hip thrust
    7. Cable pull-through
  4. Hip Hinge Workout – Wrapping up

What Is A Hip Hinge Anyway? 

A hip hinge is a technique of leaning forward without rounding your back.

As the name implies, it’s a movement achieved by folding or hinging at the hips.

Hip hinging is arguably the safest way to lean over to pick something off the floor, and it is a best practice to do many everyday movements with a hip hinge.

Examples include: 

  1. Bending over to pick up grocery bags
  2. Tying your shoes
  3. Kicking a soccer ball
  4. Climbing a flight of stairs
  5. Getting out of bed
  6. Pulling up your pants
  7. Sitting down in a chair

Remember how your mom, dad, or teacher would scold you, “sit up straight!” or “stop slouching!”

After you learn how critical the hip hinge is, you can thank them!

The hip hinge is also a prerequisite for correctly performing many strength training exercises.

For example, if you can’t do a proper hip hinge, you will struggle to perform many of the best barbell, dumbbell, and bodyweight training exercises.

How to Hip Hinge Using Correct Form

Follow these instructions to learn how to hip hinge:

  1. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees slightly.
  3. Pull your shoulders down and back and brace your core.
  4. Look straight ahead.
  5. Without bending your knees much, if at all, push your hips backward and lean forward without rounding your lower back.
  6. Slide your hands down your thighs as far as your flexibility allows.
  7. Push your hips forward and stand back up.

While hip hinging may not come naturally at first, it’s worth persevering.

Good hip hinge mobility means you can lead forwards with less stress on your intervertebral disks, interspinous ligaments, and lumbar spine in general.

The load is supported your muscles, which are much less prone to the risk of injury than passive structures like your disks.

Muscles such as;

  • abdominal muscles – when you effectively brace your core
  • back muscles – when you engage your lats
  • posterior chain muscles such as your powerful glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae muscles

These muscles would bear the load as they overlap and work together.

The point is that if you round your back, those muscles are put into a stretched and weakened position, exposing the spine’s passive structures to a potentially dangerous amount of stress.

Hip hinging can be a real back saver!

The Best Hip Hinge Exercises

Once you’ve mastered the basic unloaded hip hinge movement pattern, you’ll be ready to try some hip hinge exercises.

Without exception, these hip hinge exercises target your gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and erector spinae muscles, collectively called your posterior chain.

You can think of these muscles as the engine that drives you forward and upward, and they play a critical role in all running, jumping, and lifting movements.

In addition to strengthening your posterior chain, many hip hinge exercises also stretch your hamstrings.

Tight hamstrings will shorten your range of motion, limiting the depth of your hip hinge and increasing the chances of rounding your lower back.

Therefore, you may need to combine posterior chain strengthening exercises with hamstring stretches to optimize your hip hinge.

If you have tight hammies, take extra care not to round your lower back when performing any hip hinge exercise.

A rounded lower back is a weak lower back, meaning it is very easy to injure and makes you more vulnerable to low back pain.

You do NOT want lower back pain!

Therefore, adapt your range of motion of the movement according to your flexibility.

In other words, don’t try to lean too far forward.

#1. Romanian deadlift 

Contrary to their name, Romanian deadlifts (RDLs) aren’t real deadlifts because the weight never touches the floor.

However, regardless of this, the RDL (Romanian deadlift) is still one of the best hip hinge exercises for you to practice.

You can use a barbell, dumbbells, or even resistance exercise bands.

How to do it: 

  1. Hold your weight(s) in front of your thighs.
  2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  3. Pull your shoulders down and back and brace your core.
  4. Look straight ahead.
  5. Push your hips back and lean forward without rounding your lower back.
  6. Lower the weights down the front of your leg as far as your hamstring flexibility allows.
  7. Drive your hips forward, stand up straight, and repeat.

#2. Good morning 

This exercise is so-called because, when you do it, you look like you are bowing to greet someone.

It’s very similar to Romanian deadlifts, but with the weight resting on your upper back, the movement lever is longer, so you’ll need to work harder to avoid rounding your lower back.

Think of this exercise as an advanced version of RDLs.

How to do it: 

  1. Rack and hold a barbell across your upper back (not your neck).
  2. Pull the bar down to keep it in place.
  3. Brace your core and stand with your feet shoulder to hip-width apart.
  4. Bend your knees slightly.
  5. Push your hips back and lean forward without rounding your back.
  6. Lower your chest down toward the floor.
  7. Drive your hips forward and stand upright.

#3. Conventional deadlift 

Unlike the last two exercises, the conventional deadlift begins with a hip hinge extension instead of hip flexion.

Deadlifts are so-called because each rep starts from a dead stop with the weight resting on the floor.

The deadlift is arguably one of the most productive exercises you can do with a barbell.

How to do it: 

  1. Place your barbell on the floor and stand with your feet shoulder to hip-width apart, toes under the bar.
  2. Ideally, the bar should be about nine inches above the floor or roughly mid-shin level.
  3. Squat down and hold the bar with a shoulder-width overhand or mixed grip.
  4. Straighten your arms, lift your chest, lower your hips, and brace your core.
  5. Pull your shoulders down and back.
  6. Drive your feet into the floor and stand up, taking care not to round your back at any point.
  7. Keep the barbell close to your legs.
  8. Stand up straight and then lower the weight back to the floor.
  9. Let the weight settle for a second, reset your core and grip, and repeat.

#4. Single-leg Romanian deadlift 

Many hip-hinge activities happen one leg at a time, such as running, climbing stairs, and kicking.

As such, unilateral (one-sided) hip-hinge exercises also deserve a place in your workouts.

This exercise will ensure that both legs are developed equally and can improve your flexibility and balance, so it’s the epitome of an excellent functional movement.

How to do it: 

  1. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand and stand with your feet together.
  2. Shift your weight onto your left leg.
  3. Bend your left knee slightly for balance.
  4. Push your butt backward, hinge forward from your hips, and lower the weight down the front of your leg.
  5. Extend your right leg out behind you as a counterbalance.
  6. Do not round your lower back.
  7. Stand back up and repeat.
  8. You can perform this exercise with weights in both hands, the opposite hand, or without weight.
  9. Try all these variations and see which you prefer.

#5. Kettlebell swings

Most hip hinge movements are done slowly and deliberately.

These exercises are good for building strength, but some hip hinge movements, such as running and jumping, happen at speed.

Kettlebell swings are a fast-paced, powerful movement that transfers well to many athletic activities.

How to do it: 

  1. Hold a kettlebell in front of your hips.
  2. Stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  3. Brace your core and pull your shoulders down and back.
  4. Push your hips backward and lower the weight down between your knees.
  5. Do not round your lower back.
  6. Drive your hips forward and use this momentum to help you swing the weight to shoulder height.
  7. Keep your arms straight throughout.
  8. Lower the weight and repeat.
  9. You can also do this exercise with a single dumbbell.

See 5 Epic Kettlebell Swing Benefits for more details on one of the best kettlebell exercises you can do.

#6. Barbell hip thrust 

Most hip hinge exercises are done while standing, but barbell hip thrusts are different as you perform them on the floor.

As a result, this exercise is very lower-back friendly and provides a welcome alternative to all those standing exercises.

How to do it: 

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs bent, feet flat, and your upper back against a stable weight bench.
  2. Place and hold a barbell across your hips.
  3. Drive your feet into the floor and extend your hips, forming a straight line with your knees and shoulders.
  4. Take care not to hyperextend your lumbar spine.
  5. Lower your butt back to the floor and repeat.
  6. You can also do this exercise without the barbell and lying flat on the floor, which is an exercise called a glute bridge.

#7. Cable pull-through 

Most hip hinge exercises involve free weights, so it’s nice to have an alternative to all those barbell and dumbbell moves.

Cable pull-throughs are a lower back-friendly exercise used by powerlifters to beef up their glutes and hamstrings.

How to do it: 

  1. Attach a rope handle to a low pulley machine.
  2. Stand with your back to the pulley and astride the handle.
  3. Then, grab the handle with both hands and take a couple of steps forward to tension the cable.
  4. Bend your knees, brace your core, and pull your shoulders down and back.
  5. Hinge from your hips, push your butt backward, and reach back between your legs, taking care not to round your lower back.
  6. Drive your hips forward, stand up, and repeat.
  7. You can also do this movement with a resistance band, making it ideal for home exercisers.

Hip Hinge Exercises – Wrapping Up 

Mastering the hip hinge and training it with appropriate exercises will significantly impact how you look, feel, and perform.

Being able to hip hinge correctly is a genuine lower back saver.

Poor hip mobility jeopardizes your spinal health, so it is more than a good idea to learn how to hip hinge.

Strengthening your hip hinge will help you run faster, jump higher, and lift more.

It’ll also tone and build your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

So, make sure you include hip hinge exercises in your workouts, but don’t neglect the other fundamental movement patterns.

Paying equal attention to all seven (or nine) movements will make your workouts balanced and more productive.

What’s Next

Discover what pulling exercises are, the main pulling muscles, and an excellent pull day workout in the following article:

The 7 Best Pull Exercises for Strength and Fitness + Workout.

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