The Hinge-Corrective Theme and more specifically the Nordic-Deadlift progression of the Hinge-Corrective Theme is perhaps the most fundamental and therefore important series of exercises in this system. What appears to be an over-the-top exercise progression is actually a carefully planned method for teaching lumbo-pelvic control through experiential learning and providing a platform of coordination in this foundational movement skill. The Hinge-Thrust sub-category strives to reinforce that newly acquired skill with strength.
The Corrective Theme for Hinge-Deadlift is perhaps one of the most important exercise progressions of this training system. I believe that Saggital Plane Lumbo-Pelvic Control is the most foundational athletic skill that we can teach our athletes owing to its importance in both shoulder and hip function. As such this progression is the foundation of Exercise Encyclopedia training philosophy.
2 WAYS TO COACH EFFECTIVE HIP HINGING
The image below is a summary of the Corrective Theme of the Hinge Exercise Category (for the entire Hinge Category visual go here). You’ll notice 2 entrance points for Correcting poor Hinge patterns in beginner athletes (or poor moving athletes with greater training age). They are Kneeling variations within the Nordic Sub-Category (on the middle and left) and the Supine Bridge progressions in the Thrust Sub-Category (on the right).
These 2 Corrective progressions allows coaches to teach what is a particularly complex and dynamic coordination strategy quickly and effectively with minimal cueing. By the end of it you’re athlete will be ready for more advanced Stiff-Legged Deadlift, Nordic and Hip Thrust variations which scale into eccentric hamstring options and progress towards adaptive loads for sports performance.
You’ll notice that the Deadlift-Nordic progression on the left skips between the Nordic and Good Morning columns on this visual. This 3 step process coaches capitalises on exercise constraints to foster experiential learning in our athletes. With each progression, the athlete will learn a fundamental principle of effective hip hinging and go from ground zero to an effective Hip Hinge in Standing, usually in less than 10 minutes if it’s coached well. To learn about this 3-step progression go here.
To some my progressions might seem excessive, but I believe each one is essential in a) allowing the athlete to find their own strongest postures and b) create a shared language between the athlete and myself that I can draw upon in later exercise progressions where many degrees of freedom make verbal coaching cues futile.
2 AVENUES FOR TEACHING EFFECTIVE COORDINATION IN HINGING WITH 1 CLEAR FAVOURITE
We need to teach and strengthen many distinct skills for effective Hinging if we care about a whole-body approach to athletic development.
- A stiffened and static Lumbar spine during hip flexion and extension (no additional lumbar flexion or extension under load).
- Effective counter-balancing of the hips and shoulders to keep the load over the mid-foot.
- Full hip extension at the top.
- Retracted shoulder under a distraction load, centering the humeral head.
- Neutral head position.
- How the hip controls foot position and how the foot provides an anchor for hip stability.
The Corrective Theme offers 2 avenues for layering in Hinge mechanics from absolute beginner.
Avenue 1: The Hinge-Nordic and Hinge-Deadlift Sub-Category Progressions
The Hinge-Nordic sub-category opens up rapid progressions into the Deadlift and Nordic Sub-Categories… and eventually the Glute-Ham Raise progressions. The Glute-Ham progressions only begin in the Challenge Theme levels 7-9 which suggests that teaching these to a Corrective level Hinging athlete is counterproductive. The same can be said for teaching the classic bent-knee deadlift variations (Sumo, Conventional and Hex-Bar Deadlifts) to a Corrective level Hinger.
For more details on how to coach this progression, read this article: How to coach perfect spinal alignment in the deadlift.
In our Exercise Encyclopedia you will find Levels 1 and 2 of the Nordic progression in all the Hinge-Deadlift variations since they’re the best way to get from complete beginner athlete (or poor moving advanced athlete) to any loaded bent-knee or stiff-legged deadlift variation, swing variation or single leg deadlift variation.
You’ll notice how we differentiate between 4 Deadlift Variations in the exercise encyclopedia. Good Mornings, Kettlebell Swings, Stiff Legged Deadlift variations and Bent-Knee Deadlift variations. I’ve made what some might consider an excessive distinction here because I believe each Variation has a specific place in my programming. Good Mornings & Stiff-Legged Deadlifts train the same hamstring muscles in a similar position and I like to yo-yo between the two variations as I develop hinging skill. I use Good Mornings to constrain against excessive lumbar extension and I use them throughout the exercise progression to layer in progressively greater hip stability demands. Stiff-Legged Deadlifts are more the Romanian Deadlift variations where the load is held in hand. I use these to use greater loads and also integrate shoulder retraction and positioning into the hip-hinge mechanics. These must be differentiated from Bent-Knee Deadlift variations as these are used to deliver a maximal neuromuscular recruitment, triple extension stimulus and Kettlebell Swings to deliver a high-speed eccentric loading stimulus for injury prevention.
Avenue 2: The Hinge-Thrust Progression
Practitioners have been teaching and even training Lumbo-Pelvic Control in Supine Bridging and other laying positions for decades. It’s a low stress, non-threatening position for rehabilitating athletes. There’s low coordination demands laying supine on the floor enabling the athlete to explore range of motion under low amounts of threat. The downside of this approach is that it lacks relevance to any standing position and does not transfer well in teaching other Hinge variations.
As such, you’ll see that the Hinge-Thrust sub-category only feeds the Thrust Sub-Category and not the other Hinge variations.
You’ll notice the Thrust Sub-Category diverges into 3 Variations- Hip Thrusting, Bridging and Hamstring Bridging. The coaching strategy behind Hip Thrusting is to get to adaptive Hip Thrust loads as quickly as possible to maximise Gluteus Maximus development as a muscle group key for performance in most sports. The strategy behind the Bridging variation progression (which may seem like it should lead into the Hip Thrusting progressions) looks to progress to single leg variations & transverse plane hip strength in hip flexion-extension hinging tasks which has more subtle performance implications than hip thrusting. Hamstring Bridging (as the name suggests) focuses effort more on the hamstring group with the keen in a more extended position.
COACHING TRUE HIP EXTENSION IN WITH HIP HINGING
At level 3 in the Hinge-Deadlift progression you might notice the introduction of Good Mornings with Band Resistance (both conventional stance and sumo) which isn’t a particularly popular exercise. I use Hinge-Deadlift exercises to teach a very specific coordination pattern which I call True Hip Extension. I believe True Hip Extension is important for both performance and injury prevention reasons and I’ll harp on about it to anyone that will listen!
There are 2 tactics in the Hinge Category that are essential to teaching True Hip Extension that may notice in my progressions and we use both the Hinge-Deadlift and the Hinge-Thrust sub-categories to teach it.
1. USE OF BAND RESISTANCE AROUND THE HIPS IN THE HINGE-DEADLIFT SUB CATEGORY TO IMPROVE COORDINATION
IN THE CORRECTIVE THEME THIS IS GOOD MORNINGS WITH BAND RESISTANCE
As the athlete nears hip extension, the pull of the band tries to pull the athlete into a poor position whereby hip extension stops and the athlete becomes upright by extending the lumbar spine.
The bands cue the athlete to finished extending the hip by engaging gluteus maximus to posteriorly tilt the pelvis while Rectus Abdominis braces to resist lumbar extension- an important co-contraction if the athlete is going to find full hip extension.
I use this tactic consistently throughout the Hinge-Deadlift Sub-Category to constantly remind athletes to fully extend at the hip during other lifts as well (e.g., Romanian Deadlift with Band Resistance, Deadlift with Bands around hips). The set up doesn’t really work with the early Nordic variation (Kneeling Hip Hinge or Kneeling Good Morning) or Thrust Variations either hence why this only appears at Level 3 in the progressions.
Why then do we need to use Hinge-Thrust variations?
2. IMPROVE STRENGTH IN TERMINAL HIP EXTENSION USING THE THRUST SUB-CATEGORY
I use band resistance in Deadlifting patterns to cue effective coordination in hip extension but we know that good coordination with poor levels of strength and endurance won’t last on the sports field. The band assisted deadlifts do not provide enough load to force a structural adaptation in this pattern and we need that strength to support an unfamiliar coordination pattern. If we’re smart about our exercises selection, this is where the Hinge-Thrust sub-category really comes into it’s own. Unlike Deadlifting, terminal hip extension is the hardest part of the Thrust exercise and therefore (if coached with True Hip Extension in mind) we will force an adaptive load into Gluteus Maximus as a hip extensor. We will also reinforce rectus abdominis in a synergist role by resisting bracing against lumbar extension- anterior pelvic tilt to facilitate gluteus maximus extending the hip.
How do we do that in our exercise selection as coaches?
In the Hinge-Thrust Corrective Theme you will notice how we emphasise Supine Bridge Holds at Level 1 before progressing to dynamic Supine Hip Bridging (Level 2). With a 30secs hold of a Supine Bridge, that give me ample opportunity as a coach to teach True Hip Extension (avoiding lumbar extension) and with good Gluteus-Maximus and Rectus Abdominis cocontraction and for me to establish a common language with my athlete ahead of more dynamic and loaded exercise choices.
In much the same way as I use bands around hips to remind my athletes of True Hip Extension in the Hinge-Deadlift sub-category at every level of progress, I constantly yo-yo between Thrusting holds and dynamic exercise (i.e., Hamstring Bridge Hold vs Hamstring Bridges as I ratchet athletes up the Hinge-Thrust Category progression ladders.
I do this because in my experience, True Hip extension is a) an extremely important physical quality and b) it is easily lost with all the sitting, driving and working that we all do these days so it’s something I constantly coach in every athlete.
You’ll notice the pattern continues at Level 3 by introducing 3 holding variations (Floor Thrust, DL Bridge w/ SL Lift Off and Hamstring Bridging) of a Thrusting motion ahead of more dynamic exercises in the Fundamentals (Red) Hinge-Thrust theme.
The Hinge-Corrective Theme introduces many fundamental and foundational principles for quality athletic development. These progressions are designed to be coached and have been refined over many years working with many athletes. If done well the Hinge-Corrective Theme will provide a platform in your coaching to add more movement complexity on top and allow you to progressively overload quality movement patterns which will serve your athletes well in their careers.
THANKS FOR READING, IF YOU’D LIKE TO SEE MORE HERE’S A COUPLE OF OPTIONS…
The article you have just read leans on my exercise selection framework which I call the Exercise Encyclopedia, a comprehensive reference manual of over 450 exercises, all indexed and categorised for smooth exercise progression.
Link to the Exercise Encyclopedia is here
GET A FREE GUIDE ON ALL 14 EXERCISE CATEGORIES RATIONALES FOR INCLUSION IN THE EXERCISE ENCYCLOPEDIA
Receive our 14 Exercise Categories for heavy strength training and learn about the taxonomies of our Exercise Encyclopaedia.