The hip-hinge is arguably the most important lifting pattern to learn for everyday movement and for strength training. The phrase “lift with your legs, not with your back” is based on your ability to hinge at the hips, performing this properly has wonderful benefits for your strength, flexibility and posture. Why is it then, that the overwhelming majority of new clients, some of them long-time athletes, lack the ability to hip-hinge properly? It isn’t a lack of strength, and for most it isn’t a lack of flexibility either. The reason most people can’t lift through their hips, and instead lift with their knees or back (or both), is because they have never learned how, the motor pattern isn’t there.
The hip-hinge is not only stronger, but better for your joints than lifting with your knees or your back, but many people struggle to learn this technique. From standing, imagine your hips being pushed backward, as you sit back into your heels, don’t let your knees drift forward or let your back round. As you feel the weight in your heels, you may notice you can wiggle your toes, if your toes are taking the load, you’re lifting with your knees. Ensure your feet are pointing forward, and not rolling side to side. Now, before you lift, grip your toes lightly into the ground, this will help to engage the posterior chain that is going to make the lift happen. Many people try to learn the hip hinge by pulling their toes up, and while this technique may help you get a feel for the posture, lifting your toes throughout the lift will turn off the posterior chain and create incorrect motor patterns. Take your time to learn this, in the gym it will transition you into the most beneficial exercises you will ever perform, and in the real world, it will keep you strong and safe when lifting heavy objects.