Updated: Aug 23, 2021
Hinge. It's one of those words that when you say it a lot it starts sounding weird in your head.
If you're sitting while reading this, you're hinging right now. In the workout world, the hinge is, shall we say, trending, and has been for a while. The ability to bend at the hips seems obvious, but it became its own category of movement over the last decade, with a lot of folks putting a lot of energy into the understanding of hinging. But, well, is it named correctly?
What is a hinge without the outcome, the extension? A hinge leads to an unhinge. The hinge is not the actual athletic movement. The extension from the hinge is the desired end game. So why does everyone focus so much on the hinge? Swings, goodmornings & broad jumps are all exercises based on the hinge (and the extension). Deadlifts, and squats rely greatly on hip hinging, with the added bending of the knee as well. Except the hinge isn't considered by most the actual movement. It's that darn extension from the hinge. So why do trainers and coaches keep talking about the hinge?
There is only one other action I can immediately think of where the name and the exercise are backwards. The Squat. An actual squat is the bottom position of hinged knees and hips. But the exercise of the squat is the action of standing up from that position. The literal squat is the bottom portion of the lift. You're in a squat. Yet if I asked you how much ya squat, you're going to give me the number of how much weight you get out of the squat with. Perhaps the hinge and the squat are just that important. In other words, if we don't hinge or squat properly, the outcome will, at best, be weak, or, at worst, be disastrous. Proving the adolescence where I perpetually dwell, we had an old Bodytribe quip that I originally used for the Get Up, but eventually it made sense for the squat (and deadlift, but we'll get to that later)... To get it up, ya have to go down.
In other words, the squat, the literal bottom-position, squat where everything is hinged, is so important, that coming up from it won't go well unless the squat position goes well. Simply put, if you don't squat well, you don't (come out of the) squat well. Or maybe calling it the Coming Out of a Squat was simply too long a name. How about the Unsquat? Although there isn't an exercise called a hinge, as an action, the hinge still seems more popular than the extension. As mentioned, many exercises are considered hinging exercises rather than extension exercises. Perhaps the terminology tells a similar story to the squat. Proper hip extension doesn't exist with proper hip flexion, AKA hinging. Bad hinging means the extension will happen through other means, the biggest culprit (and victim) being the spine. In exercise lexicon, the bending of the hips is not synonymous with the hinging of the hips. Sometimes flexed hips are an outcome, not the purpose. The hinge is purposeful hip flexion, and it is from there that hip extension will have the greatest result.
Keep that in mind for the near future when I discuss properly lowering a deadlift. If you're resetting at the bottom, you're only half deadlifting. But more on that another time. And yes, the hinge is a key player. Hinge, hinge, hinge. Does it sound weird in your head yet? __________________________
Hinging. Just one of the many skills taught in depth at the Bodytribe website. We even have a program available for getting your play on more from hanging and swinging from things. Part of the Bodytribe membership, but also downloadable for non-members. One of the many programs for anyone to try. Build your possibilities. Explore! Also, over on the Youtube, go climb a tree...