The hip hinge is one of the most promenant movement patterns we see in resistance training. It is effective for building both strength and hypertrophy in all the muscles of the posterior chain, including the glutes. There are many types of hinge exercises, some are much more effective at targeting the glutes than others, so make sure you use this list to your advantage.
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A hip hinge mimics the movement of a hinge joint. A good example is the movement of a knee. In the hip hinge, the legs are slightly bent, the hips stay in a fixed position while the chest moves towards the floor. This movement pattern allows us to lift heavy object off the floor, making it one of the most important movement patterns in resistance training.
The hip hinge works on the entire posterior chain. This means it targets the muscles of the back, glutes and hamstrings. The glutes are not the primary mover in the hinge movement, that being said, they are a crucial component of success in this movement pattern. The hip hinge can be an effective way to work the muscles of the glutes.
One huge benefit of the hip hinge is that it can be performed with a great deal of weight, unlike the majority of glute specific exercises (except the barbell hip thrust). This means that for hypertrophy it is very effective. Hypertrophy (increase of muscle mass) is caused through applying mechanical tension to a muscle, through performing multiple repetitions at a moderate weight.
Gaining in strength, also known as force production, is acquired through lifting heavy objects. This may seem slightly reductionist but it really is that simple. Therefore in order to increase the strength of the glutes, heavy objects need to be lifted with them. Deadlifts are a perfect example of how the glutes can be made stronger by moving through the hip hinge movement pattern.
Sports performance often requires speed. Speed comes from the muscles in the lower body and the glutes are one of the key muscles of the lower body, especially when it comes to sprinting. This means that using hip hinge exercises for glute development can be an excellent way to improve speed and therefore improve sports performance. Obviously this is only applicable to the sports where speed is important.
The DB deadlift is my favourite hip hinge exercise for hypertrophy of the glutes. It is simple, doesn’t require balance, doesn’t put too much pressure on the lower back allowing for accumulation of a lot of fatigue. Therefore creating a great deal of hypertrophic adaptations. Keep the DB’s close the body and focus on squeezing the glutes at the end of the repetition.
The KB sumo deadlift is an excellent way to work on both strength and hypertrophy of the glutes. The wide stance makes this exercise a brilliant way for people who find the hinge technique challenging to ease into the complexity of this movement. The wide stance (sumo stance) also allows for high activation of the glute muscles.
Banded extensions are a great option when you are training with minimal equipment. They allow for a very high accumulation of repetitions and are therefore effective for hypertrophy and not strength training. Ensure you are actually accumulating fatigue, if you are not creating fatigue in the muscle because the sets are too easy maybe the band you’re using doesn’t allow you to produce enough force to be effective.
The deadlift is the king of the hip hinge movements. It allows us to pick up very heavy weights from the floor. The deadlift can be effectively used for both strength and hypertrophy, though be aware that hypertrophy sessions with deadlifts can create extreme amounts of fatigue. For getting stronger glutes for sports performance this would be the go to hip hinge lift.
The wide stance DB straight leg deadlift is another great example of a more glute hypertrophy emphasis. Like the KB sumo deadlift it provides a great deal of space for the hips to move through making the technique slightly easier and avoiding mobility restrictions, so again is a great exercise for more novice individuals.
I also wanted to show you three exercises that would not be effective for training the glutes but are still in the hip hinge movement pattern. As you will see, all are unilateral exercises, taking emphasis away from muscular fatigue and towards balance and stability, especially of the hips and the lower back. When picking exercises for specific reasons, make sure you are making the optimal exercise selection in order to not waste your time.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.