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It's All In the Hips

hip flexors strength training Mar 25, 2024


By Dr. Carla DiGirolamo


In simple terms, the “hip joint” is the ball and socket joint where the head of the femur meets the pelvis. Flexion at the hip occurs, for example, when you do a sit-up. As your torso approaches your knees, the hip joint is “flexed” or closed. Hip extension occurs when you rise from the bottom of a squat to the standing position. In this case, the hip joint “opens” as you rise to a standing position.


The primary muscles involved in hip extension are the gluteal muscles and the hamstrings. This movement is important for walking, climbing stairs, and hiking on uneven surfaces. If you are an athlete, hip extension capacity is helpful for explosive movements such as jumping and running, for weightlifting movements such as squats and deadlifts as well as the Olympic lifts such as cleans and snatches.


Many of us do a lot of sitting during our daily lives. Spending a lot of time sitting where the hips are flexed, can weaken the hip extensors. For this reason, it is important to focus on increasing strength and capacity for hip extension for longevity in performing our activities of daily living and to optimize performance in our athletic endeavors.


Today’s workout targets hip extension strength and power with two movements: the kettlebell swing and the push press. For more hip extension work and upper body strength, check out this week's “Weekly Workout” in my newsletter, Athletic Aging.



Warm Up


TABATA 20 seconds of work / 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes. Perform each movement in sequence for 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds until you have performed 4 rounds of each movement.


Movement Practice


Take 5-10 minutes to select your options for the workout. Given the volume of repetitions, choose lighter weights/easier options that you can do confidently. The goal is to complete the sets of 25 repetitions in no more than 2 sets.

  •  If no kettlebell, perform a single dumbbell swing (keeping right and left sides even) or a double dumbbell swing.
  •  Watch the linked video of the dumbbell push-press. Notice the “dip and drive” that initiates movement of the bar off the shoulders requires flexion and then extension at the hip.
  •  For less volume, reduce the repetitions to 15 per movement.




3 rounds for time


Cool Down


This workout is a bit spicy, so be kind to your muscles with this 15-minute hip-opening yoga sequence from Five Parks. #dontskiptheyoga

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