Quick Fix To Master Your Hip Hinge and RDL
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
Mastering the hip hinge is no easy feat as there are quite a few important cues to remember when attempting to execute the movement properly. However one of the most important cues during a hip hinge is to focus on keeping the hips tall while also driving the chest towards the floor. This is easier said than done and can oftentimes be somewhat confusing for the lifter.
With that said, one highly effective strategy that I use with my athletes and clients is the double string analogy. Simply imagine 2 strings on your body, with one attached to the hips/butt and the other attached to the chest. One string is pulling the chest down towards the ground to create a forward torso lean (a critical component of a hip hinge), while the other string is puling the butt/hips up in the air, keeping them tall and back. This “double string” analogy does wonders for teaching foundational elements of the hip hinge particularly the “tall hips” cue.
This tall hip position is the main cue that differentiates the hip hinge from the squat. Although the squat and hip hinge are actually quite similar in that both involve setting the hips back by flexing at the hip joint, the key underlying difference is that the squat involves dropping the hips with ample knee flexion while the hip hinge pattern involves keeping the hips tall with only a small amount of knee flexion (approximately 20 degrees).
However, both exercises are critical when it comes to mastering human movement and both variations should be treated as their own individual movement patterns. Unfortunately most individuals either squat too much when attempting to perform a hinge or they keep their legs overly straight turning it into the highly dangerous stiff leg deadlift.
To help cement this technique and proper mechanics into your CNS I recommend performing a majority of hip hinge exercises with an eccentric isometric protocol (slow eccentric followed by a several second pause in the stretched position) as demonstrated by my awesome client Leslie Petch.
Eccentric isometrics enhance proprioceptive feedback and kinesthetic awareness by maximizing muscle spindle activation. This helps the lifter fine-tune their position which can be highly beneficial not only for hip hinges but for all movements. Read more about eccentric isometrics here.
Regardless of whether you’re performing a traditional RDL with a barbell or dumbbells, good mornings, single leg RDL’s, or good old fashion cable pull-throughs try using this double string analogy as I can just about guarantee you your hip hinge mechanics will improve greatly.
Learn more about proper RDL and hip hinge mechanics here.