How to Activate Your Hips Before Training

Last post we covered a preliminary low back protocol with emphasis placed on stability — and ultimately strength — coming before mobility. The movements should activate our core and have us ready to move into some mobility work. 

This is where we begin to “oil” our body and really open up our movement capabilities while doing so in a strong fashion. Only by first doing our foundational work — especially for those of us with low back pain — can we really capitalize on this mobility training.

Game Plan

The goal of this series of exercises is to translate the neural drive (strength) that we cued in our core stability series into more active movements of our hips. This will allow us to exhibit this strength throughout a range of motion (ROM), which is the essence of mobility training!

Even though we’ll be dealing with maximal contraction and intensity in these exercises, we must be sure to keep a relaxed breath. If you do anything with a rushed and panicked breath, your body will consider that posture as something not welcoming. It will see it as something it doesn’t want to do and will approach that posture with fear.

But if you can take at least six breaths in a position (long and drawn-out breaths!), aiming for a five-second inhale and five-second exhale, you will store this motor pattern in your body. It will crave to position itself this way!

This is something that we must keep in mind when performing all of the following exercises as well as when we are in live training and competition, too. A calm and relaxed headspace allows us to see and feel more!

Exercise #1: Bridge

Aim for 2 – 3 sets of six calm and relaxed breaths. If you can’t handle this length of time with good form, do it for as long as you can, but be sure to follow the relaxed breathing protocol I covered above!

Exercise #2: 90/90 Hip Position

Aim for three sets of both movements (PAILs and RAILs) on each side. Do each for 5 to 10 seconds. Again, MAXIMAL contraction is the key! This is how we communicate to the nervous system to accept these ranges and allow us to exhibit strength within them.

Exercise #3: Hip CARs

Aim for two sets of 3 to 5 reps on each leg. If you start feeling “crampy,” keep your extended positioning and relaxed breath. Quality is king. Move slow and controlled for this is where you “master” and “own” these ranges.

Final Considerations on Hip Activation

These movements are subtle and aren’t sexy. You may have people look at you weird.

This has been the case in my first three plus years of BJJ. But it’s funny how the strange looks have become questions and ultimately people adopting these things into their training.

This is what I seek to share: To embody you to control and move in a confident fashion without thought. The outcome being you training, competing, and living in flow.

I cover more performance training tidbits at that will help you prepare, recover, and perform better on the mats!


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