By Jon-Erik Kawamoto, CSCS, CEP, DVRT I & II
Incorporating exercises that involve moves outside of the sagittal plane to attain and maintain optimal hip mobility, stability and movement coordination
We lift weights so we can enhance athletic performance, better our body composition and improve our overall health (also, so we can take workout selfies). And commonly we’re told to focus our program design around the big lifts, you know, squats, deads, bench presses, overhead presses, rows and chins, but is this the best approach?
As with most answers in this industry, it depends. For the most part, these exercises take place in the sagittal plane (a plane that splits the body into left and right sides), which isn’t a bad thing; it’s just not inclusive of all possible movement patterns. And this is why I love Ultimate Sandbag Training (USB) and the DVRT system. One of the unique benefits of USB training is accelerating and decelerating loads in multiple planes of motion.
Just like Shakira, Your Hips Don’t Lie
Basically, your body is a stack of joints and according to the joint-by-joint approach (ala Michael Boyle & Gray Cook) your hips want and need to move freely in order to be healthy. And as the old saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. This couldn’t be more true regarding hip mobility, as avoiding full hip range of motion (not just flexion and extension, but internal and external rotation) exercises may lead to the inability to keep optimal hip range of motion over time. The fact that most of us sit most of the day doesn’t help either. So, performing deads and squats (alone) does not challenge the hips to create force in other planes, which is a fault of only sticking to the big lifts.
Hip Range of Motion Exercises
To keep (or attain) optimal joint range of motion, you’re going to have to work for it. Add these dynamic drills into your warm-ups to improve mobility, for the hips in particular. Performing 1 to 2 sets of 10-15 reps each with 5-second holds should be plenty.
Shin Squat VIDEO –
Kneeling Groin Stretch VIDEO –
Kneeling Hamstring and Hip Flexor Stretch VIDEO –
Dynamic Hip Stretches Flow VIDEO –
Ultimate Sandbag Training Exercises Your Hips Will Love
Keeping hip range of motion and ensuring you move effectively through your hips to produce force (and not your lumbar spine), not only requires effective warm-up drills, but also loaded exercises that challenge your force production capability and ability to produce hip and lumbar stability.
Here are three unique exercises in the DVRT system that will challenge your ability to produce rotational acceleration and force production, while maintaining lumbopelvic stability.
Rotational USB Clean to Crossover Lunge VIDEO –
Rotational USB Clean to Lateral Lunge VIDEO –
Rotational USB Clean to Rotational Overhead Press VIDEO –
The big lifts can remain the big lifts but realize that they are not the end-all-be-all of exercise selection. Rotational movement patterns and exercises that challenge you in the frontal plane (side-to-side) are also big lifts in their own way.
Jon-Erik Kawamoto, CSCS, CEP, is a certified DVRT Level II Trainer and a Strength Coach and Fitness Writer out of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. He contributes regularly to many major health and fitness magazines and websites and is currently in the final stages of a master’s in exercise physiology at Memorial University. Check out more of his work at www.JKConditioning.com and follow him on Twitter at @JKConditioning.