The hip hinge is a fundamental movement pattern that is used for all dead lift based exercises. The weight of the hips going backwards is counterbalanced with the upper body leaning forwards.
It is important that if you feel your hamstrings at full stretch that you stop because otherwise your lower back will round and threaten the integrity of your lumbar spine. Chest up Weight back on the heels to load the hamstrings Push the hips backwards Core tight to maintain a neutral spine Drive the hips forwards and stand tall Squeeze glutes at the top Don’t overextend or lean backwards
Below I’ve listed a collection of kettle bell hip hinge exercises for you to practice starting with the easiest and progressing to the most challenging. The kettle bell good morning is an excellent beginner standing hip hinge exercise.
Personal trainers teaching this exercise to their clients can place a broomstick vertically down the spine to monitor correct alignment during the forward bend. The kettle bell can be held against the chest with both hands before advancing to the behind the head movement as shown in the image above.
The kettle bell single arm dead lift exercise is a fundamental movement that everyone should master. Nothing is more natural than picking up a weight from the floor, learning to use your legs and hips and NOT your lower back is the goal.
When lifting a weight from the floor it is your hip and leg extension that should do all the work with your lower back staying flat. Bracing your core muscles while lifting is what stabilizes the spine and reinforces the flat back position.
Workout : As the dead lift is our strongest movement pattern you should be able to lift some heavy kettle bells with this exercise. Your back should remain flat and your core muscles braced to support your spine.
Just holding this initial bent over position will help you to better load and then unload the hips. Adding the rowing part of the movement challenges your core control as your upper body is pulled downwards and the lower back tries to round.
Resist the downward pull on your upper body by bracing your core muscles tight. Row the kettle bell to the hip being careful not to allow the shoulders to hunch up towards the ears.
As with all these hip hinge exercises the buttocks and legs are what do all the heavy lifting with the core muscles being used to stabilize the back and spine. The kettle bell swing is the ultimate full body dynamic hip hinge exercise.
You will strengthen your legs, buttocks, hips, core, back, and arms as well as pushing your cardiovascular system with the kettle bell swing. The core muscles are braced tightly to stabilize the spine and body weight is kept on the heels and mid-foot.
Pull the kettle bell back towards the body by keeping the arm horizontal and the wrist tight. Care should be taken so that the kettle bell does not flop over and hit you in the face when you first start practicing this exercise.
The kettle bell high pull is a fast and dynamic exercise so it raises the heart rate very quickly. At the top of the movement punch your hand through the handle to prevent it from banging your wrist.
To return the ketlebell to the bottom position throw the kettle bell out over the back of the hand and absorb the weight with your hips on the way down. Using a single leg hip hinge movement enables you to sort out any imbalances that you may have between right and left sides of the body.
The single leg dead lift exercise conditions the cross body sling system that connect the hip to the opposite shoulder. Those who play lots of sports or require powerful rotational strength will heavily benefit from practicing this exercise.
Workout : Begin by practicing the movement without a kettle bell and reaching forwards with both hands to touch a wall. Once you have perfected these prerequisite exercises then the single leg kettle bell clean should naturally fall into place.
Keep your chest up and core braced throughout the movement as you drive your hips forwards to pop up the kettle bell. Again this single leg exercise is excellent for sports and for balancing out the left and right sides of the body.
The hip hinge is the movement used when performing all dead lift based exercises. You can perform a hip hinge workout by using any of the above exercises starting at the beginning with the easiest and progressing to the more advanced.
Keeping your back flat and core braced push your hips backwards loading your hamstrings and heels. The weight of the hips going backwards is counterbalanced with the upper body leaning forwards.
Position your feet a little wider than shoulder width, push your hips backwards and allow your hands to drop towards the floor. Grab the kettle bell and stand by driving your hips forwards and squeezing your buttocks.
Kettle bell Hip Hinge Drill | Breaking Muscle Stand with feet hip width apart holding a kettle bell by the side of the bullhorns, keep your grip tight. Place the bottom of the kettle bell on your stomach and imagine breaking the bell in half at the handles, this will allow your lats to engage.
Do not sit down into a squat, as you move the hips back you should feel some tension in your hamstrings. A common mistake is to assume that the kettle bell swing is a squat when in fact it is a hinge at the hips.
Other than that, it’s probably the best example of highly user-friendly, easily applicable, total body, explosive strength. Foot Hamstrings Glutes Erectors Lats Even lower and mid traps
Shoulders (NOT because you’re lifting the weight) “6 pack abs” Forearms Quads Plus, kettle bell swings are super athletic teaching and training the ability to control the weight quickly yet aggressively, while maintaining your “center”.
The height of the bell should be determined by the IMPULSE (force) generated by the hips and transmitted through the floor. “If boredom wasn’t an issue, the kettle bell swing is the ONLY exercise you would ever need to do in your entire life.
Go into any gym and you’ll see inexperienced exercisers turning a swing into a front squat and shoulder raise exercise further tightening our hips, quads, chest and shoulders and just adding to the anterior dominance issue that I told you about above. Simply put, improper kettle bell swing form just adds fuel to the already burning fire of postural imbalance.
A perfect kettle bell swing will work your posterior chain muscles (back, abs, butt, hamstrings) and combat all the ill-effects of our anterior dominant Western Society. Before “hiking” the bell pull the shoulders down into the sockets, connect the lats to the body.
At end hip extension KEEP you feet, quads and glutes fully contracted and TIGHT AF. PULL the bell back at your crotch Hinge and repeat.
If you try to balance yourself rather than “root” a bell of any consequence, you know, a heavy enough weight that you’d actually get a training effect, will pull you off center and destroy the rep. DON'T LIFT YOUR HEAD …this causes most people to limit their hinge and be pulled forward.
Bring your chin down (aim for as near a neutral cervical spine as possible) and in general, look at where the floor and wall meet. It’ll help reinforce the hinge and keep the swing motion short, compact and snappy.
Tightness in the lats, core and quads (at the top) are important. A squat focuses on the anterior — more a knee dominant and loads the quads.
When you are hinging, you want to focus on the hips joints, then “push” your buttocks back with a slight bent of the knees and keep them nearly inline with your ankles. If you have done dead lift or SL DL before with proper form, you'll understand this movement.
Doing it correctly, you will feel your hamstrings kicking in, as well as your glutes, so that you are not falling back. 2- Prevent injuries (mainly low back pain that I see so often with people who were given a bell and just been told to swing!)
3- To swing with your hips and use your glutes and posterior chains, instead of the arms and neck. 4- To be able to perform the other cool things from a kettle bell perspectives (single arm swing, clean, press, snatch).
Remember that the hip hinge is a basic and fundamental human body movement. You're losing it with too much sitting which leads to tight hips, hamstrings and deactivation of your glutes.
Majority of people will bend, round their back and pick up their bags. I'm taking this from Dan John who gave a really simple analogy about the hinge and the swing:
To be able to swing with intensity and at times heavy, you need maximal hip hinge to get that kettle bell moving. Here's a quick demo with one of my student showing the difference of a squat and a hip hinge setup before you swing the bell:
If your glutes and hamstrings are not sore the following day but your back hurts, you did not swing your kettle bell correctly. I run a few times a year a beginner kettle bell course for those interested in learning the correct techniques.
Then you can move on to the more advanced and cool things that kettle bell can give to your body and strength.