Build a Better Hinge

A hinge is a fundamental movement pattern that I believe everyone should learn, it’s easy to see how it easily translates to everyday life. Think about when you’ve heard “lift with your legs, not with you back”, this is what we’re talking about!

Hinge pattern exercises can be done in a two-leg stance, single leg stance, or staggered stance. You can use dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, sandbags, bands, etc. Common names are Romanian Deadlift (RDL) or Stiff-Leg Deadlift. I don’t like either because which deadlift is the American one? And stiff-leg implies locking out your knees. So I just call it a RDL. We will use a Kettlebell RDL for the example.

Mistake # 1: 

Improper bracing/not neutral spine. I often see people get ready to do a hinge pattern exercise by sticking their chest and chin up and their butt out. This creates an extended posture where you can see their ribs poke out and more tension in the muscles of the low back. It also isn’t the best position to get 360 degrees of expansion with your core to create optimal intra-abdominal pressure for a good core brace as you inhale.

Instead, think of keeping your ribs connected to your pelvis, which helps cue a neutral spine position. When you take an inhale with your nose, you will feel your core expand in all directions. 

Mistake # 2:

Leaning forward too much. I often see a tendency to lean forward without shifting your weight backwards, which places more tension on the low back. Sometimes I see people rounding their upper back with this, like they are reaching their arms for the floor.

For a hinge, think of keeping your knees slightly bent. This will allow you to sink into a deeper hip angle because your hips will be able to move further behind your feet and your center of gravity will stay right above your feet instead of in front of them. Often this can be fixed by keeping the weight closer to you.

Coaching Cues I like to use:

Tighten your arms to your sides like you’re holding onto pieces of paper.

Reach your hips back like your hands are full and you want to shut your car door.

Push into the floor to stand back up.

Hopefully you learned something new, if you didn’t, I hope you didn’t mind learning it again!

Have a great rest of your week!

Richard Lee

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