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Hips must stay mobile and active in the entire range of motion they have.
To maintain that hips require quite some intensity and persistence.
In this guide I show you 3 hip mobility exercises that are pretty bad ass.
Hip Mobility…Something People Don’t Appreciate (Until They Lose It)
Hip joints in babies are extremely mobile.
In fact, there is probably no baby that can’t bring their leg behind their head.
So at the start we are all Pro Yogis!
With time however, as we are not using the entire range of motion that our hip joints offer from the start, we lose that mobility.
Yes, I’m talking overwhelming sedentary lifestyle that is not compensated with proper mobility exercises.
As the saying goes – use it or lose it!
So why don’t we put words into practice?
One of the best “exercises” is a full range squat.
Many people call it Asian squat because it’s really widespread in Asian culture where it’s actually a natural resting pose.
Here is the photo taken in Kashgar (China) which shows pretty mature men engaged in some “commerce”.
All that while seamlessly maintaining a perfect squat!
In fact, full squat is one of the natural movement patterns that toddlers use when they want to get something from the floor, play or just rest when they get tired.
Now is the time to get that squat back!
When you are just starting, you can have quite a number of limitations that will make it really hard for you to begin.
- Your big toes can be inflexible and immobile
- Your ankles might not have enough dorsiflexion (more common in women due to high heels)
- Your hip adductors might be really tight
- Your hip joint can have some limitation due to the lack of use in the full range
So if you have a few of those, we should make it as simple as possible for you so that you will actually like squatting enough for you to continue doing them (because, as I said, they are really good for lower back).
Easy Full Squat
To do the exercise:
- Use a yoga mat, a book or anything you can put under your heels
- I’m using a mat so all I need is just insert it under my heels and descend into the squat
Things to look for:
- Maintain erect posture and keep the back straight (if it’s still too hard, increase the heel elevation)
- Keep your feet and knees slightly externally rotated
Essentially you are doing the exact same thing as with the Easy Squat but without anything under your heels.
For both variations of squats I invite you to try a 30×30 Squat Challenge.
The goal is to accumulate 30 minutes of squatting per day each day for 1 month.
So if you can squat for 5 minutes, you only need 6 repetitions during the day in order to get to 30 minutes in total.
The idea is that hips require consistent intensity and 30 minutes per day for 30 days in a row is enough to get them moving.
Oh and here is a Reddit thread that has some reviews of this challenge – it definitely works!
2. Cossack Squats
I love this exercise because it requires balance, mobility, strength and the ability to use all of these at once.
This exercise is pretty advanced to begin with but…there is an easier variation.
Let’s start with the proper Cossack squats first.
Things to watch:
- Keep your back as straight as possible when you are resting on one leg
- Try to keep your butt to the floor as close as possible when switching legs
- Maintain both feet on the floor during the transition and resting stage
- Notice if there is any difference between the sides – is one easier to do than the other one?
You can also use some additional weight during the movement.
You might think that it makes it a lot harder but additional weight would help you to “sink in” into the squat and make the transitions easier after a few reps at the start.
Easier Cossack squat variation doesn’t require you to keep your other foot on the floor so your toes would simple point upwards.
I don’t recommend you get used to this variation because your hips really beg for that internal rotation (which works when you keep both of your feet fully on the floor).
So you could start in an easier Cossack variation, do a bunch of internal rotations to warm up that movement and then proceed with the proper Cossack squat!
3. Duck Walks
Now that we mobilized the hip joints in some fairly stable positions it’s time to take it to the next level with dynamic mobilization.
And to do that there is nothing better than the exercise they made us do back in my Soviet-style school program – duck walks!
Before I show you the correct way, here is the incorrect way:
And here is the correct way:
As you can see the movement in the correct example starts at the hip joint area – the upper body is almost stable.
Things to watch:
- Maintain erect spine and actually use your hips to adjust as you move forward – do not compensate by creating momentum with your trunk!
- Remember to breathe
To make the exercise even more interesting (hehe) I invite you to try doing this walk…backwards!
Here is how it would look like:
If you want to maintain a healthy pain-free lower back and keep other musculo-sceletal things in check, you need to have a mobile and healthy hip joint.
Hip joint requires intensity and movement.
Use the exercises I gave you above – move!