The Power of Hip Strength

In my coaching experience the number one factor in determining athletic prowess is power output or force production. The athlete who can produce higher amounts of force into the ground is going to accelerate and hit top speed much quicker than the weaker less explosive counterpart. Since acceleration is essentially the “name of the game” when it comes to success on the playing field why is it that most strength programs fail to integrate or acknowledge hip strength into the training programs?

I was guilty of making those same mistakes. I avoided many heavy hip extension exercises apart from forward sled drags, squats and deadlifts. I’m not sure why I did that but you learn from mistakes and eventually design a better program and continue on the path to becoming a better coach.

There are several technical factors that go in to improving acceleration but for the sake of this article we will focus on hip strength.

Let’s get into a little anatomy to better understand the function of the glutes mainly glute max and what can potentially happen if the glutes aren’t doing their job.

Glute max is the primary hip extensor.

Together with the hamstrings they drive the leg into extension during acceleration and work with the hamstrings to maintain top speed while sprinting.

Glute medius is involved with hip ab-duction which is bringing your leg out to the side.

However, the glute medius is also a pelvic stabilizer and helps with hip alignment and the alignment of your femur.

For example, if your knee comes in chances are you are internally rotated at the femur and hip and your glute medius isn’t doing its job as a stabilizer. Now think about how often you spend time on one foot while running, jumping, playing your sport. If the glute medius isn’t functioning or is “shut off” you are at risk for a whole slew of potential issues including knee tendinosis and low back issues as well.

The bottom line is that glute strength is important for many reasons including hip extension strength for increased acceleration strength and stabilization of the pelvis.

Below are my favorite exercises to work on increasing glute strength for improved power output as well as improving stabilization of the hip and knee.

1. The weighted bridge and hip thrust are two of my favorite exercises for glute max activation and strength. I learned about these exercises from Bret Contreras. The hip thrust is a great progression from the traditional bw bridge from the floor. It is basically a full range version of the bridge. Once you can rep out at least 1 set of 50 bridges you are ready to add weight to the exercise.

2. The one legged bridge or Cook hip lift. Once you have got the hang of two-legged bridges it’s time to challenge single leg hip stability and strength.

The Cook hip lift accomplishes both by activating glute max but also the hip stabilizers to keep the pelvis level at the point of hip extension. You can also add a tennis ball in the crease of you hip so you can get isometric hip flexion work on the opposite leg while working on hip extension, which is basically what happens while running.

You can then progress to single leg hip thrusts which essentially a full range version of the Cook hip lift.

3. Monster or X band walks.

These are great for strengthening the glute medius and will help with hip and knees stability for lateral movements and also knee issues as well.

Add these exercises in your strength program and you should see an improvement with your vertical jump and acceleration speed.

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One Response to “The Power of Hip Strength”

  1. Tom Watson Says:

    Thanks for a great article. Atm I can only get 2 inches off the floor with good form when doing bodyweight glute bridges – what’s the best way to progress from here in terms of sets and reps. Isometric holds till failure or a “grease the groove” 10 x 3 approach avoiding failure?
    Thanks so much!
    Tom

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