Our Favorite Exercises Part 3: Deadlift Variations & Hip Hinging
Hip hinges are one of the most important exercises we teach our clients! It is one of the major ways we engage the posterior chain and activate the muscles that keep our posture and movements strong.
Sumo-deadlift: As the name suggests, you set up wide behind the bar - heels beyond shoulder width, toes pointed out and shins about an inch from the bar. Bend at the knees and push the hips back while reaching down to grab the bar. Your shins should be vertical, and forearms on the inside on your knees. Squeeze your lats, chest up, and drive up through your mid foot as you exhale. Again, shoulders should be over the bar until you pass your knees.
Conventional deadlift: begin by standing approximately an inch away from the bar at the shins, shoulder width at the heels and toes pointed slightly out. With the knees slightly bent, simply reach down and grab the bar just outside of the knees. Sink your hips slightly, squeeze your lats and bring your chest up - inhale deeply and drive through the floor with your mid-foot. Be sure not to let your hips pop up first, stay tight through the torso. When you pass your knees, bring your hips through until you're standing up straight. To descend, push the hips back until you feel your hamstrings stretch, and then bend the knees, keeping the bar close to you shins as you hit the floor
Romanian deadlift: Unlike the other variations, the Romanian deadlift begins from the top position, and not the floor. Stance is the same. With a slight bend in the knees, high chest position and bum out, begin the movement by pushing your hips back. You should immediately feel a stretch though the hamstrings and glutes. Descend as far down as possible, to the point just before you lose a neutral spine. At the bottom, your torso should be approximately parallel to the floor, with your back flat, not rounded. Staying tight through the core, simply stand back up straight.
Kettlebell swings: Think of the kettlebell swing as a dynamic version of the Romanian deadlift. The starting position is wide enough for a kettlebell to fit between your thighs, but not as wide as a sumo-stance. Chest is high, bum is out, knees slightly bent and kettlebell hanging at hip height. Begin by pushing your hips back until the hamstrings stretch and then bring the hips back through, feeling the weight transfer from your heels more into your toes. Start with a slow, rocking pattern until your get into a comfortable rhythm - and slowly increase the range of motion and speed of each rep. Remember, it's not a squat, so your knees shouldn't bench too much - everything comes from the hips, glutes and hamstrings. The kettlebell need not come up in front of you any higher than eye height