Intelligent Hip Mobility Training
By VAHVA Fitness on July 30rd. 2019
Intelligent hip mobility training and hip mobility drills. Focusing on what actually works and produces results.
In the last article and video we went deep into the function and anatomy of the hips and especially hip rotation. This time, it's time to go even deeper.
After being in the health & fitness scene for over a decade as a serious practitioner, we have tried pretty much everything when it comes to increasing the flexibility and mobility of the hips.
Foam rolling? Check.
Band distraction stretching? Check.
All kinds of crazy exercises for the hips? Check.
Eventually, to get the results we wanted we had to get rid of lots of nonsense when it came to hip mobility. Now we would consider the typical training for the hips just mad.
It seems that very few know how to properly increase the mobility of the hips from the very ground up.
Out of all the various disciplines that we have tried over the years, Pilates practitioners are some of the rare ones that do excellent hip mobility training. The founder Joseph Pilates was ahead of his time.
Do people honestly believe that using massive elastic bands that pull the joint to different directions while you stretch the muscle is the "secret" to hip mobility?
We did band distraction stretching (picture from 2015) in the past and although it does work, it's far from optimal.
Just because it LOOKS smart and someone has come up with a good scientific explanation for it, doesn't mean it's actually an optimal way to increase the mobility of the hips.
Likewise, do people also believe that foam rolling the legs and hips every day is a valid method to increase hip mobility? It does produce temporary relief (massaging always does) and helps with recovery but for building mobility it's not a valid method.
Then, we finally have the movement trainers who twist the legs as much as they can while they are in the squatting and sitting positions (90-90 position). Good stuff but optimal, especially for the beginners? No...
We would argue that the modern hip training is out of touch and disconnected from the body.
In reality, you don't need to do anything exceptionally fancy to develop hip mobility. In fact, the more simplistic the exercise, the better it will often work.
However, just because the exercise is "simple", doesn't mean it's easy to do. With all these different methods, people are trying to cheat the results with the unusual gimmick.
There is this idea that if it doesn't look overly complex and extreme, it probably doesn't work. As a result, the fitness scene has gone from the simple stuff that works to overly complex gimmicks and extremism.
The reason why this is a disconnected approach from the body is that it doesn't acknowledge the ultimate truth of training the body: how you do everything matters more than what you do.
Because the internal (methodology) approach is lacking, the exercise needs to look externally as complex and extreme as possible.
Then people come up with an intelligent scientific explanation and somehow the explanation will take care of the rest? It never works that way.
What ultimately counts when it comes to training the hips or any other body part or attribute of the body?
What goes inside your head while you are doing the movements and exercises. The principles and methodology you are utilizing to perform the exercises.
What are some of these intangibles?
You also need to master the absolute technical areas such as:
Proper stability mechanics.
Understanding what to move and what not to move.
Exercise selection matters a lot but nearly always the simple exercises are the most effective solution when they're done correctly with the right principles.
How to Train Hip Mobility
Whether you are an absolute beginner or advanced, the basic joint articulations of the hip will work the best.
We covered these in the video: hip flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, transverse abduction, transverse adduction, internal rotation (while hip flexed or extended) and external rotation.
We recommend learning how to do these while you are standing up or lying on the floor because this way you will have the most control over the articulations. The purpose is to build mobility and you need active tension for that.
Here is also a good article that covers many exercises for basic joint articulations.
The main problem with the sitting and other twisting drills is that they are closed-chain movements and it almost always reduces the active tension of the joint movement.
Moreover, the floor and the compensation/movement from the other parts of the body easily ruin the hip rotation. When a beginner does the exercise, they almost always do it wrong.
With the sitting exercises people are way ahead of themselves by working primarily on the end-ranges of the joint when most people (even many advanced trainees) lack sufficient mobility in the mid-ranges.
Metaphorically speaking, people are lifting heavy weights when they cannot properly lift the light weights yet. Somehow this exact same problem has found its way to hip mobility training.
It's also not something you mark off and be like "now I have enough mobility and only work on the advanced fancy stuff" – no, the levels of mobility can still be developed optimally with the basics.
Open chain movements like different leg raises / rotations with the correct methodology work the best simply because you will have the most control over the motions. Without control there is no mobility – it's just flexibility.
Next, you need to clear your mind, learn the right muscles to target and utilize the right principles. The incredibly important thing is to learn how to stabilize the rest of the body so nothing will interfere with the targeted area.
This is what we call precision training and what Athlete 20XX is all about. The most complete leg and hip training to date.
We also have a 100% FREE mobility class that covers the proper methodology and several excellent exercises to develop hip mobility. The purpose of this class is to introduce you to the intangibles.