Charlie Weingroff and Mark Cheng: Touch the Wall Drill

Drs. Weingroff and Cheng cover a quick and easy drill to make sure your hip hinge is where it needs to be: as far back as your anatomy and flexibility will allow.

I would like to demonstrate the right hinge that we’re going to take to lifting heavy things. Then, I’ll ask you to come over here and we all will be facing away from the wall, because everybody wants to get their butt back as far as possible. You’ve got that slingshot that’s slammed way up or forward.

When we hold things in our hands, we need some kind of intervention, so I’m going to add that into the hip hinge, as well as getting to touch the wall.

We’re going to coach everybody individually on where we think their feet should be because everybody’s a little bit different. The first thing I want you to do is to get into this lousy, forward posture. Remember what I said about the neuromuscular effect—when you get into the wrong position, you have a better opportunity to feel the right one. Now that I’ve thrown my body forward, I’ve got a good cue to sit back.

When I touch the wall, I’m going to turn my palms up, which really locks in my shoulder blades, and I feel very comfortable. I’m not leaning on the wall. I’m not dumping to the letter ‘L,’ so what I’ll do then is move forward a little. I’ll start over and get the scapular stability trick and I’m going to get back, then let my knees bend a little because I’m farther away from the wall . . . and I can’t touch the wall.

I’m going to come back halfway and try again. I’m touching. I’m going to keep going back and forth until I’m satisfied I’m getting back as far as possible. For this to work, this forward posture should precede the movement back. I don’t want to lean on the wall. This would mean I went too far, even if I had good mechanics. You can’t lean when you’ve got 24 kilos between your legs.

Look for the letter ‘V,’ look for the vertical tibia, do the scapular stability thing. Then, we’ll continue to coach because now you’ve got a target, you might feel like the letter ‘L’ is really the letter ‘V,’ but then, I want you to keep wiggling off the wall just a tiny bit.

I want you to internalize this position, if you can get your hip back further, you’ve got a bigger windup to lift something or swing something very heavy, and that’ll help when we get to lifting weights.

When you get back to the wall, turn your palms up. You’ll probably feel your shoulder blade lock in a little, which we’ll use as internalization of what that feels like when we start to get it. Everybody should be at the point where they have their hips back as far as possible.

Here’s what I’d like you to do. We’re going to do one more hip hinge. Don’t worry about the arms. I want you to look up to the ceiling as high as you can.

Try to do your hip hinge, but keep looking in up. Well, well, well.

Just like I tried to do as soon as we started talking, I put it in your hands. If you think it’s a good idea to look up or look at the horizon when you are doing your hinges and deadlifts, try it when your neck is extended.

You tell me which position you like, especially after you told me you wanted your hips to go back as far as possible. Your neck never looks up. It never looks down. As Doc Cheng said, your head belongs right here, stacked above your torso.

If I have a coaching tool for somebody who finds that neck position difficult to hold, I’ll add tension to that coaching environment and tell you to hold it there and keep your neck packed, feeding the tension forward. Hard, Hard, Hard!

You should still touch the wall, but now I would ask you to push a little off the wall. Feed the tension forward and pack your neck, and then see if you can get your hips back farther.

I know this may seem like splitting hairs, but the eye position on this is important, too. If your neck is in relative neutral structurally, but your eyes are looking down, the eye position affects how the muscles of the occiput fire.

Keep your eye line perpendicular to your spine, on the way up as well as when you’re going down. Rather than looking down, try that and see if it helps.

We want you to have every strategy possible so you can get your hips back as far as your anatomy and flexibility will allow.

Want more coaching tips and drills from Charlie and Mark?
The secrets to hip mobility are in Hacking the Hinge
Hip Hinge Video