Quick Trick On Teaching the Hip Hinge and Mastering the Deadlift

One of the first things that I teach when I start a new client is how to properly hip hinge.  Hip hinging is imperative for everything from deadlifts, bent over rows, RDL’s, good mornings, etc…  All too often I see members of the gym performing exercises with a rounded back and “tucked” glutes- injuries just waiting to happen.

This past week I started a new client- let’s call her Christine, because well, her name is Christine.  Christine is twelve weeks out from ACL surgery.  Prior to physical therapy she never really had any experience with strength training.  This is what Christine’s hip hinge looked on day one:

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Pretty jacked up, right?  Now, I could probably overcoach the crap out of her at this point, but I decided to have her do standing anterior pelvic tilts (also known as “popping the booty” in some circles) instead.  Then I simply asked her to do the same movement again while presenting an anterior pelvic tilt throughout.  On her next attempt, using that cue only, her hip hinge looked like this:

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*excuse my annoying voice

And again a few minutes later:

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Now that she started to understand how to hip hinge, I sent her to the beach for the weekend (okay, okay she was going there on her own… but sometimes I want to act like I send my clients on excursions, okay?) and asked her to do five hinges a day.

On monday she returned and we went over packing the neck and squeezing the glutes at the top of the movement to get back to neutral spine.  At this point I showed her a deadlift and asked her to give it a try… Here is what she looked like on her second set:

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* Ms. Moans A-lot is actually behind us on the leg press- those noises are not coming from Christine…

Looks like a pretty good deadlift right?  I think so too.  Now, is this the only way to teach the mechanics?  No.  Is there a better way?  Maybe.  I want to hear what you’ve done in a similar situation and how it turned out.

Sidenote:  You may have noticed that I put a box in front of her…  Without getting to into it in this post, it is a trick that I use to drive home the point to let the bar travel straight down.  You’ll also notice I put her in front of the wall when I taught the deadlift.  I find that these two little “tricks” get people to stay back on their heels and keep the bar “tight” without having to tell them.  It goes so well most of the time that it makes me want to dance like my two of my MMA guys, Neil Johnson and Jonathan Hughes:

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That is all!


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Chris Merritt

Strength Coach/ B.S. Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University/ FMS/ Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist/ Certified Kettlebell Instructor/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance and Beyond Strength Performance NOVA

2 Comments on Quick Trick On Teaching the Hip Hinge and Mastering the Deadlift

  1. Good videos, can definitely see improvement

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