Hips don't lie: Tips to improving hip strength

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The ability to produce power is a must to play dominant football. Top football players generate these punishing forces primarily from their hip muscles. This hip power that they possess can be generated in many directions: forward, backwards, sideways and rotationally, and is then distributed to the rest of their bodies. But what are some exercises that can improve hip power in all of these different motions for football? This article will demonstrate four easy exercises to strengthen your hip muscles and improve multi-directional hip power.

The Single Leg Bridge is an effective exercise to develop gluteus maximus strength. This is an overlooked exercise as I have trained numerous NFL football players who can squat a ton of weight but could not perform this specific exercise effectively. Much of the glute, or butt muscle, is designed for power, which is trained in lunge and squat exercises. But another function of this muscle is designed to help stabilize the hips and ultimately extend the hip in power movements. This stabilizing effect allows for more power to be generated by the hips and legs muscles.

In order to perform this exercise — with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor — simply lift the hips off the ground to create a straight line from the knees to the shoulders. Then extend one knee, but do not let the hips or trunk move up or down. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat to the other leg for three sets. Eventually work up to three sets of one minute bridge holds for each leg.

The Sidelye Up is a great exercise to strengthen the outside of your hips. These muscles help stabilize your hips for power, but also help generate power to move side-to-side. This side-to-side strength will drastically improve one's agility on the football field. In order to execute this movement, lie on one side with the bottom elbow bent to help stabilize the trunk. Then, with the trunk in a straight line, lift the hips off the ground as far as possible. Perform three sets with eight to 10 repetitions. As this exercise becomes easier, progress it by attempting the same movement, but with only the bottom leg on the ground and the top leg separated from the bottom leg. This is an advanced exercise which can be attempted for three to four sets of six to eight reps.

The Walking Lunge is a great functional exercise that will strengthen the hips and leg muscles for straight-line power production. First, take a forward step and lower the hips down so that the front leg is parallel with the ground. Then, rhythmically alternate steps for each leg so that each leg will receive eight reps. Do this for three to four sets. To make this exercise more intense and improve hip power, carry dumbbells in each hand and/or wear a weighted vest. Remember to always perform this drill with proper posture and running form (even though you are not running). Another version of this exercise can also be done by walking backwards in the same fashion as the forward-walking lunge. Remember, the walking lunge will create and improve straight-line hip power forward and backwards!

Around the World is an exercise that is designed to strengthen the hip rotators. First, stand on one leg and slowly lower a weight that is held in both hands down to one of three targets. (The three targets are slightly to the inside, directly in front of, and slightly to the outside of, the standing leg). Touch each target four times in a set with the weight; always returning back up to the starting position. Perform three sets on each leg. Around the Worlds will help the athlete move on angles, create spin moves and improve overall agility.

Go ahead and implement these cost-efficient, easy to do and highly effective exercises into your leg training days and enjoy your newfound multidirectional power!

- Brett Fischer is the owner/founder of the Fischer Institute in Phoenix, Ariz. He is a licensed physical therapist, certified athletic trainer, certified strength and conditioning specialist and a certified dry needling provider. He has worked with the University of Florida, New York Jets, PGA & Senior PGA TOUR and the Chicago Cubs.

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