T Nation

Training the Hips

At the end of a Jim Cordova shoulder workout video he explains that he likes to train rotator cuffs. The reason being he explains, smaller muscles, if neglected tend to get weak because the bigger muscles we have begin to perform the functions of these smaller muscles. A weak muscle is more prone to injury even if it’s from something outside of the weight room.

He also says he trains his hips and the muscles in that area on leg day.

Unfortunately, unlike the shoulder training video, there was not a Jim Cordova leg training video.

I have a slight lateral pelvic tilt. I believe I developed it from years of barbell compound movements and neglecting weak points as well as isolation unilateral work. I also feel mixed grip deads and not changing my grip may have been a factor in my pelvic tilt as well.

I just started stretching to correct this, my quadratus lumborum in particular.

However being that it is in my hip area, it wouldn’t hurt to strengthen those muscles. I think it would help my situation.

So getting to the point.

What exercises work the muscles in the hip? What kind of hip mobility work do you do? What would be a program to add to my current leg day?

Here is the Cordova shoulder workout video. Pretty solid.

First things first I would look up kelly starrett of mobilitywod.com and just watch…EVERYTHING. As far as hip mobility stuff there is literally like a million things he knows. Check out episode #363 as well, very cool stuff. Also, painful like foam rolling lol.

Speaking of which, if you haven’t started yet you need to. Get on the roller for IT band, glute mediis, and piriformis. Those are three of the big contributors to hip and knee dysfunction. I would also research Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson on lateral hip dysfunction. Those guys specialize in correcting shoulder and hip dysfunction for athletes.

I am not sure i’d really have a specific plan for you other than accumulating abput 10 minutes with k starretts stuff and about 5-7 minutes on the legs and with the foam roller. Do the foam roller stuff first, then mobilize. Soft tissue care should go before stretching and mobilization. Then mobilization before workouts. Another name to look up is Gray Cook, one of the sharpest minds in the business.

As far as training legs goes, just buck up and do unilateral stuff as the majority, if not the whole damn leg workout for a couple weeks. 2 weeks of only single leg stuff won’t kill your squat, or leg size. Promise. Actually, if you spend enough time on unilateral exercises you might even notice a certain increase in leg size from training the stabilizing muscles harder with the balance component.

Additionally you will probably notice it is very difficult to balance on one side right now, and one side is tighter. These are some more warning signs that you ahould pay attention to and take care of.

Suggestions are bulgarian split squats, lunges, reverse lunges, strict step-ups, lateral lunges (yes they are real), and overhead lunges (holding an olympic plate overhead with LOCKED arms and torso strictly straight up/down).

Outside thoae exercises, single leg leg curls, single leg back hyperextensions, sprinter starts (or rotary hip style stuff), suitcase deadlifts (those are good) and single leg dumbbell deadlifts. You can make suitcase deads a unilateral farmers walk if you’re really sick lol.

In order to work the stabilizing muscles in the hip you must, MUST stay away from machines. The free motion is essential for training hip stability and correcting the right to left weakness. Deleting balance from the equation essentiall makes the exercise useless for your purposes–which are to loosen up the hips.

Paradoxically, loose hips are a function of both strength and mobility–a body will still favor a side when the brain thinks it is too unstable to do a motion, whether or not it is strong enough to do it. This also works backwards–if you are flexible enough but not strong enough the body will still short circuit. That is why balance is essential. For a consice and very deep explanation of this phenomenon, look up “gray cook asymmetry in motion” on youtube. It covers exactly related topics and is one of the best summary videos I have seen in years.

If you can’t handle a big load on a movement, pair it with one that you can load up for hypertrophy purposes. Do the balancy one first, then the loaded one.

I did not expect such good information. I just watched a lot of video from Kelly Starret. So much stuff to use, I tried some of his hip stretching. It felt good.

He also has a lot of other great stuff.

Cressey and Robertson, google did not turn up much for lateral hip dysfunction, but I’ll search again tomorrow. I’ll also stick to a lot of unilateral work. Thank you for all the exercise selections, I would not have been able to think of that many free weight unilateral leg movements. Probably would of got to split squats, lunges and db RDLs, but you gave me a bank to choose from.

I watched that asymmetry in motion video, really interesting, but made a lot of sense. Your brain definitely has fail safes to protect the body.

I wonder if my pelvic tilt is the reason why my glute was injured deadlifting. Or, if my glute injury (pulled muscle) is the reason why I have lateral pelvic tilt. Something to ponder and look into.


On a related mobility note, but not about the hips.

Ankle mobility. I had a very bad sprang 1.5 years ago. Should of had the doctor check it but I didn’t. I got it playing football, looked like a baseball coming out my ankle it was so swollen. It may have been fractured.

Anyways, it’s healed, but I sprang that ankle every few months. It’s just so much more injury prone these days. It gets better and then something stupid will happen. I actually stepped in a pothole and destroyed it again over the summer. Bad luck.

Needles to say my calf atrophied a bit and it’s noticeable compared to the other.

Will hypertrophying and strengthening my calves play a role in helping prevent further ankle injuries. Not to say it’s a cure all, but maybe just strengthening the calf muscle will be a form of prevention.

Hey, glad I could help!

I’m definitely not one of the “functional training” guys (drip sarcasm) because I think that properly programmed training IS functional when youre getting big and strong lol. And I absolutely friggin HATE “unstable surface training”.

That said though, one of the best things to do for ankle stability is…unstable surfaces. God I hate saying that. But it is true to a large degree. Yes I think hypertrophying the weak calf muscles is useful and will help, but again you need to work the stabilizers that cause inversion and eversion. They need to be strong, and fire rapidly when needed. Inversion of the ankle is what happens you try to point your toes in towards the center of your body (or what happens whn you most commonly roll an ankle).

Being able to balance on the weak ankle with both eyes open and closed, and then later on an unstable surface, will help a lot. Strangely the best thing I ever did for my ankle was to pick up my hobby of slacklining years ago… It’s awesome and kicks ass, but unforeseen side effect was that since I have picked it up about 9 years ago I have not spraines either ankle (knock on wood so I dont jinx myself). prior to this I had a really bad recurring ankle issue like you. Always, always risky. Slacklining if you arent familiar is basically tightrope walking, but the “rope” is more like a rubberband–it vibrates and stretches and swings against you and in response to you and the wind. Basically, super unstable surface :stuck_out_tongue:

Sadly, training the ankle stabilizers with unstable surfaces or anything else will not contribute to hypertrophy at all. The only thing it may do is add stability to your knee and mobility to your hip because you have shored up a very weak and risky joint.

I am not an expert on training this or unstable surfaces, but my experience led me to believe that bosu balls and other gimmicks do have a rehabilitative use that can be quite significant when properly used. Naturally of course you’d have to start with just the floor and balancing haha. At any rate, I suggest looking up Dock Hartzell (sic?)

Sorry, posting from phone and the last post hasnt appeared to edit yet. Dick hartzel (spelling?) The jumpstretch bands guy. He has some interesting take on things. Not sure what I feel about somw of the stuff, but kelly starret likes him and that man has yet to steer me wrong in anything related to healthy joints and movement. Dave tate also likes him.

Ahh, some more excellent advice. I have no idea where I could partake in slacklining, I guess that’s why they invented the internet, I can google it lol.

Makes a lot of sense, the unstable surface work would strengthen the joint, just trying to brainstorm what I can do.

Personally, and at this point, I just want a strong ankle joint again. It will improve performance, I can play sports without worry again. It would even sometimes inhibit me when I was boxing, that sucked, stumbling when sparring. So hypertrophy is on the back burner until the joint is fixed up.

Anyways with a stronger joint and more mobility I am sure it will be easier to hypertrophy that calf. I mean hey, it’d be able to handle bigger loads according to that “gray cook asymmetry in movement” video.