Ok, so not many of us really think of our hips as an important part of a killer beach body. The folks sweating it out to P90X or Insanity certainly won’t stress this. But the one of the most important aspects of functional, rather than merely aesthetic fitness is to build a strong posterior chain.
Here’s a rundown of the benefits of training the posterior chain for those unfamiliar with it. The linked article is mostly concerned with maximizing your vertical jump, but think of how improving the performance of your calves, glutes, and hamstrings can help you as a martial artist–increased kicking power, more explosive punches, and more agile footwork.
It’s important to add the hips to the mix as well. Here’s a great article on the subject; however, the synopsis is this: the strength, power, and flexibility of your hips will make you a better athlete who is less prone to injury.
Here are a few exercises, listed by type of fitness, that can help you get the sexy, athletic hips you always dreamed of! ;)
There are MANY resources on each exercise on the web. For this article, I chose each video based on its instructional value and its short length. (Don’t worry if you don’t recognize some of these trainers by name. I love to learn from the experts as much as the next guy, but experts LOVE to talk.)
Having strong hips not only allows you to lift more weight, but it can improve your balance. This is essential for wrestlers and judoka who need excellent takedown defense. It can also help you dominate an opponent against the cage or in the muay thai clinch. Any movement that requires sustained upward force is rooted in the posterior chain and relies on strong hips; deadlifts and squats are old standbys.
Developing power in your hips is one of the keys to maximum athletic performance. It doesn’t just help you run faster and jump higher, though. Think of all the martial arts applications: the best punchers torque their hips to throw their strikes, wresters shoot for takedowns and execute throws with their hips, and a strong sidekick or roundhouse fires from the floor and follows the trajectory set by the hip. Olympic lifts like the snatch and swinging a dumbbell or kettlebell are great ways to become powerful.
Any guard player in jiu-jitsu or high-kicker in taekwondo will tell you that having flexible hips is the key to success. Utilizing the hips’ full range of motion helps you to control a standing opponent from the ground as well as reaching the head for a knockout kick. But grappling and attacking are not the most important things; having flexible hips allows for smooth, injury-free movement. Have a look at these simple stretches for some ideas on how to make your hips more flexible.
Outside Hip Stretching
1. Laying Back
2. Sitting Forward
These are some basic hips to work on your hips. If you’re unfamiliar with these exercises, try them out and you will undoubtedly see improvements in the martial arts. If you have other favorite exercises or techniques, let us know about them.