It’s not possible to overemphasize the importance of learning to properly express power from your hips. This is a skill that plays a part in nearly everything we do in CrossFit, and by extension nearly everything we do in everyday life. The most powerful forces we are capable of generating with our bodies begin with our hips, so learning to use them properly is absolutely imperative.
Look at the picture below. The figure on the left illustrates the proper usage of the hips: the butt and knees have traveled in opposite directions, and the torso is stable and upright. In this figure everything is as it should be and all the proper muscles are doing the work they’re meant to do to support the body.
Now look at the figure on the right. In contrast to the figure on the left, the hips have “chased the knees,” and the shoulders are rounded. In this position the quads are doing nearly all the work.
There are two main problems with this position: it is extremely inefficient for transferring power from core to extremity. Just as problematic, though, is the injury risk this movement pattern exposes us to. By not loading our glutes and hamstrings appropriately, we are placing a lot of unnecessary strain on our knees and our lower backs.
Have you ever noticed your knees or lower back hurts after high volume push presses? It’s likely you have a muted hip of some degree.
Don’t worry though, you are far from alone. Most people exhibit some degree of muted hip. So how do we fix it? First of all, it’s important just to be aware it’s an issue. If you notice at the bottom of a push press dip, or really in any squatting movement, that your weight is primarily in your toes, that’s probably a muted hip pattern.
After we become conscious of a muted hip, next we need to practice to reverse it. Hundreds of reps where we’re focusing deliberately on our knees and butts traveling in opposite directions, our chests staying up, and our weight staying mostly in our heels.
The next time you hear one of your coaches say “butts back, knees forward, chests up!”, this is why!