The hip joint is the most powerful joint in the human body and is the driving force of all athletic movement, throwing, jumping, lifting, punching, kicking ect. Training our bodies to have powerful hips is an essential part of our general physical preparedness program. CrossFit is designed to increase work capacity across many tasks. Powerful, functional hips will take an athlete further than any other isolation training.
Learning To Use the Hips
To establish powerful hips first we need to learn how to use our hips. Learning to use our hips in a hole body movements is not easy and can be a long process. A common fault in new athletes is what we call a “muted hip” or a frozen hip. A muted hip is when an athlete fails to flex at the hip joint and compensates with their knees. This is most obvious in the push press. As an athlete dips, the knees will come forward of the toes and the hips will stay in extension, being frozen or muted. A muted hip will reduce power across all lifts and must be corrected before adding weight.
An athlete that knows how to use their hips will be more coachable in their chosen sport. If a boxing coach ques their boxer to “use your hips when you throw a right cross” the message or que will mean nothing to an athlete that has never been taught how to use the their hips. In AFL football, a coached teaching a junior player the hip and shoulder would que to “dip and generate power from the hip right before the point of impact” If the athlete does not know how to generate power from the hip or has a muted, the football coach is going to have hard time teaching the movement. To produce a more well rounded and more coachable athlete, it is beneficial to use a General Physical Preparedness program that addresses strong hip function.
If an athlete knows how to use their hips and can generate power to then be expelled to the outer extremities, like we see in the Push Press, we can then work on increasing that power. To increase the power from the hips we need to look up and down the chain. Up the chain is the trunk or core, down the chain are the legs.To establish powerful hips the trunk needs to be strong, the athlete needs to have good core stability or a better term, mid line stabilization. This is extremely important in building powerful hips. Finally we can then work on the hip flexors and quadriceps that create drive from our legs and work in conjunction with the hip joint.
The best training approach is to use a vast amount of movements that use hip flexion and hip extension. Teach an athlete to generate power from the hips in as many ways as possible. Constantly vary your movements and you will see an overlap in performance in all functional movements.