Charlie Weingroff: Hip Hinge Biomechanics

Charlie Weingroff talks biomechanics: the importance of the hip hinge to lifts and swings and what may be keeping you from going back as far as you need.

Excerpted from Charlie Weingroff & Mark Cheng Hacking the Hip Hinge

Let’s start with the biomechanical perspective of the hip hinge. We should be able to agree that the big pieces to the hinge are the hip and the lumbar spine.

I need the hips to be able to move at a degree that exceeds the lumbar spine. If my lumbar spine is not stiff enough compared to the depth of the deadlift I want to execute, I run a risk of perhaps what Dr. Shirley Sahrmann would call “relative compensatory flexibility.”

Stiffness means certain things in a physical sense. If we biopsy muscle, we find that the stuff that’s in muscle can create stiffness, but I think it’s more than just muscle that creates this connection.

When we look at biomechanics, at the other pieces of the muscles that attach from the pelvis through the leg posteriorly, etc., we need to consider the joint capsule in the posterior hip that allows for this posterior migration of the femoral head. You may have muscles that are extremely nimble and supple and maybe not in need of transformation through manual therapy, needles or other therapies.

Capsules act differently than muscle because of their constituency. There’s much less elastin in joint capsules. If we have a joint capsule that does not allow the femoral head to slide out the back, then we’re in trouble and what we will probably execute is a biomechanical hinge that’s more L-shaped than V-shaped. If somebody put their hand on my back, they’d say my back isn’t rounding—except I am having to work very hard to not round my back.

This is not good. This is wasting energy and in a neurological sense, this is called a “high threshold strategy”—not to mention you’ll notice the difference of the mechanical move I do here when I’m sticking my butt backwards versus keeping it tucked in and just bending. Doing the latter, it’s almost hard to not fall over a little bit.

I have a question and do expect an answer. From your experience in terms of deadlifting or kettlebell ballistics or even the first pull in the Olympic lifts, would everyone agree that getting your hips backwards is the best approach to creating power or force?


Everybody cool?

I want to be able to get my butt back, so I can pop forward.

Obviously, the knee position and the ankle position will be different at different times. We all want to get it back. Not only do we need to analyze the muscles, we need to analyze that joint capsule. We want to get backwards as far as possible to create this slingshot of the posterior chain, so we can slam forward.

Interested in more from Hacking the Hinge? Click here for more sample clips.

Charlie Weingroff and Mark Cheng Hacking the Hinge