By Gavin Buehler
Last month’s F.I.T. Tip featured the Clam Shell and Side Plank Clam Shell exercises that incorporate both the lateral and external hip rotation stabilizers. It’s a great exercise to reconnect and activate those muscles. This month, we’re going work those same muscles in a more functional manner. While the tutorial video will take you through the exercise complex, reading this short article will breakdown the thought process and give you the why.
There are a lot of great exercises for the hip stabilizers such as the above mentioned and hip CAR’s (Controlled Articular Rotations), however they don’t really target those muscles in a functional state. What they do is enable them to function. Once they are working, we want to have them perform in patterns where they should normally function. Most functional patterns where we want these muscles to work involve the foot planted on the ground with an axial load (body in an upright position) or in a hinged (bent over) position. To put that into daily movement context, activities such as walking, running, bending over to pick-up and object or reaching for something. Basically, things we do all the time without thought.
I’ve put together a four-exercise complex, there is a bonus fifth exercise if you want to get gritty, but keep in mind that each exercise can be performed on its own with different variables to scale it to any level.
Loading one leg at a time maximizes the use of the muscles we are targeting, so the complex is performed on a single leg with the other elevated and supported for balance. The upper body movements are more of a sneaky way to create isometric holds for the targeted muscles. While you are performing upper body movements, the focus is on the hips, so don’t worry too much about those exercises feeling easy. If you’re locked into the right position, the burn coming out of your glutes will make you forget all about that.
You don’t necessarily need to add weight to these movements, but if you do, starting lighter is a good idea. All the movements are contralaterally loaded (holding weight in the opposite arm to leg you are standing on) to create some core torsion to amplify the target muscle engagement. Here are the four main movements and why:
Bulgarian Split Squat – it moves the hip joint through a hinge range from movement through the femur (thigh bone) while the torso is kept upright and stable.
Bent Over Row – this isometric hip hinged position requires the hip muscles to stabilize while work is being performed in a bent over position, much like many daily tasks.
Romanian Dead Lift – it moves the hip joint through a hinge range of motion through the torso moving while the femur is in a stable fixed position.
Overhead Press – this is an isometric axial loaded (upright) position that requires the hip muscles to stabilize while work is being performed.
Give it a try. If you perform this well you can curse me first once that burn sets in but thank me later!
1-3 sets, 5 repetitions/exercise at a slow controlled tempo. Start with your weaker side first.
As always, these videos are for entertainment and educational purposes only. Please consult a health professional before attempting new exercises or protocols, as the following suggestions may or may not be appropriate for you.