The Importance of Proper Hip Hinge Mechanics
Combating Back Pain with Strength
Upfit Training Academy
-Jacob O’Connor, Brian Santanelli-
The vast majority of us have experienced back pain at some point in our lives. The individuals who haven’t yet experienced back pain are lucky outliers among a sea of people who at some degree share this experience. There are a great deal of reasons as to why one may be experiencing back pain. For some of us we may have suffered an acute injury, others may have chronic pain caused by prolonged sitting and/or poor movement patterns. My guess is that the majority of back pain is caused by the latter. Think about how much of each day you spend seated… Most of us are at a desk the majority of the day, at stressful jobs (especially New Yorkers), moving poorly if at all.
All of this time sitting takes a toll on your hips, back, neck, and shoulders, leading to stiffness and discomfort. Back pain can be incredibly debilitating for some, bleeding into aspects of life such as sleep, recreation, and simple household tasks. Do you or someone you know commonly experience back pain? What are you doing to combat your pain? Improving the strength, stability, and mobility of your hips and back is a strategy on the forefront of treating and preventing back issues.
The hip hinge is a fundamental movement necessary to master in order to perform many hip/back strengthening exercises. The hinge looks simple, but it can be a deceivingly difficult movement to conquer. You can find our progressions of the hip hinge below.
A great introduction to the hip hinge, a heavy emphasis is placed on technique execution to properly develop this movement pattern. The front loaded weight gives a trainee an idea how to use the front muscles of the core. The feet will be hip width apart while engaging the core and lats. From there, drive the hips back with a slight bend in the knees. Once you’re at the bottom of a rep (you will feel a stretch in the hamstrings) bring the hips forward and shoulders upright while squeezing the glutes through the move.
This is a progression from the medicine ball good morning. The set-up is very similar here, but now the weights should be held at the side of the hips. The weight placement forces the trainee to use and strengthen the lats, as well as the upper back. Movement execution will be just like the med ball good morning.
Now that we’re pulling from the floor, our set-up will change. Standing over the kettlebell, hip hinge backward then bend the knees more than you typically would for a good morning. Grab the kettlebell by the horns and make sure the lats are engaged with a “squeeze the armpit” cue, creating pre-tension. Then drive your feet into the ground with your hips and shoulders moving at the same speed.
Set up with the feet hip width apart inside of the trap bar. Hinge back, bend the knees and grab the bar. Center your hands and the weight, create pre-tension by squeezing the lats like the kettlebell deadlift, and fire up the core (take the slack out of the bar). Drive the feet into the ground and stand up.
Set-up with the barbell over your midfoot and feet hip width apart. Hinge back and bend the knees, grab the bar with your hands just outside your legs. Create pre-tension to take the slack out of the bar and drive feet into the ground. Make sure to stand up tall and straight, not hyperextending at the low back.
In a world full of back pain it’s important to identify exercises to strengthen these areas. As someone who has been through a few stints of back pain myself, I have a great appreciation for practical movements that go a long way. It can’t be understated how important it is to perform these movements correctly. Poor execution will not yield the same results and can be counterproductive, causing more discomfort. We hope that this progression can be of use to you and help you continue living a healthier, happier, and more physically active lifestyle.
Different backgrounds, experiences, strengths, weaknesses, and stories.
Leg lengths, hand sizes, past injuries, fears, motivations, and dreams.
Fitting square pieces into round holes will rub squares the wrong way. Can we mold our plan of fitness and health to collaborate and work with our multi shaped clients? This doesn’t mean straying away from the core principles of training, exercise science, and fitness, but instead catering the delivery, the ingredients, and communication.
A single leg squat instead of a double leg squat for those who have back discomfort, or giving a celebratory high five (pre-covid) to the apprehensive beginner vs a simple positive nod and smile of acknowledgement to the veteran trainee.
A remarkable, human approach. A people focused program. We like our stories being heard, and with consistency being the predominant determining factor for success in health and fitness, more stories need to be listened to.
“If you think the solution is more rules, and less humanity, I fear you will be disappointed by the results. Those that can bring humanity and flexibility to their interactions with other human beings will thrive.” – Seth Godin, Linchpin.
Building a Strong Foundation for Fundamental Movement
UpFit Training Academy – Squat Progression
Unfortunately, the word basic is commonly interpreted as easy or unchallenging. Too often we are influenced by snippets of physical feats performed for social media. Impressive as they are, most of this content is made for views rather than results and is not a model for how we reach our fitness goals. Any structure built upon a poor foundation is doomed to break down, our bodies are no exception to this. Building a strong foundation is the key to success, safety, and results when it comes to any movement.
At UpFit Training Academy we emphasize the importance of mastering the basics before progressing to more complex movement. Keep in mind, although some movements may be less complex, by no means does this put a limit on the results and progress one can yield. By manipulating variables such as frequency, intensity, and volume impressive gains can be seen before moving to more complex variations. One example of perfecting your foundation can be seen in our progression of the squat. Our progression of the squat from least to most complex can be seen below. Note that each variation is nuanced, for example, using a box is a great way to establish depth and can be used in most squat variations.
The med ball squat press out is a great introduction to the fundamental movement of the squat. This variation utilizes a medicine ball as a counterweight, encouraging an upright posture and improving squatting mechanics. This movement is done by extending the ball forward as you descend into your squat. Returning the ball to its original position as you return to the starting position.
The goblet squat is a common variation suitable for most people. The movement is performed with a kettlebell or dumbbell held near the chest. The goblet squat puts an increased demand on your upper body and the core as it is more difficult to maintain an upright posture.
The double kettlebell front squat is a progression of the goblet squat. As you can tell by the name this variation includes squatting with two kettlebells, thus requiring the load to be carried in the front rack supported by the trunk. This variation allows for more weight to be used and adds significant demands on core stability.
The front squat is performed with a barbell in the front rack which displaces the load further from the body. This variation has a high demand of mobility, specifically thoracic extension and external rotation of the shoulders. There are a number of front rack variations that can be used for those that find it difficult to achieve the classic front rack position. Using the barbell allows for essentially unlimited load to be used during the squat. It’s very important to develop a stable front rack to facilitate sound squatting mechanics.
At UpFit Training Academy we believe in mastering the basics. Building a strong foundation in movements such as the squat is essential to achieving longevity and health in your pursuit of fitness. Simple movements, proper execution, increase in demands, further adaptation … RESULTS. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, although more complex movements can be aesthetically pleasing to the social media viewee, it’s a mistake to rush into them by sacrificing the most important step; the basics.
What does protein have to do with it?
At first apprehensive about showing her picture, Jill decided that her story was worth sharing!
This is Jill with Wes, and this is what she said to me when I asked her how she dropped 40 lbs since training with us…
“Well coming here to workout, but
a Sh%T load of chicken,
and not eating junk 70% of the time.”
Words from one of our most successful female clients down 40 lbs since training with us from 205 lbs.
As simple as it can get from someone who had about 150 questions before starting her fitness journey.
“You think lifting weights is better or cardio?”
“What about HIIT? I heard that works great.”
“What about going vegan, I just saw the game changers movie.”
“Won’t lifting weights get me bigger?”
And all questions you can expect from a beginning, inquisitive fitness hopeful overwhelmed with the black hole of internet information. And then realizing as she went on that consistency with the basics would carry her forward.
Protein, less crap, move more.
“Higher-protein energy-restriction diets lead to greater weight loss, fat mass loss, and preservation of lean mass along with greater improvements in select cardiometabolic health outcomes, over the shorter term, compared with lower-protein diets” (Leidy et al. 2015).
Simple but not easy.
“Although greater satiety, weight loss, fat mass loss, and/or the preservation of lean mass are often observed with increased protein consumption in controlled feeding studies, the lack of dietary compliance with prescribed diets in free-living adults makes it challenging to confirm a sustained protein effect over the long term” (Leidy et al 2015).
Not easy, but probably better than the Vegan and ab blaster program from your favorite Instagram fitness influencer.
Anyone remember the Silver Sneakers program?
Think seniors moving torturously slower than they wanted to doing choreographed moves over a chair.
“While there are instances where low-intensity, low- volume programs are appropriate (i.e., beginning programs for individuals with frailty or CVDs), the greatest benefits are possible with progression to moderate to higher intensity programs.” (Fragala et al. 2019)
Our progression to that Silver Sneakers program would be going home.
It’s almost as if we put a glass ceiling on our older adults, put em in a bubble.
“No they shouldn’t lift that.”
“They’re going to hurt their backs.”
We say forget that.
Our UpFit Master’s program members put a lot of young bucks to shame.
It took courage, patience, consistency to get here, but these badasses know what it means to be anti fragile.
To be strong.
To be tough. ✊️✊️
To be resilient.
And they’ve earned it..through good ol’ fashioned hard work.
Ask about our UpFit Master’s Program, and let us show you how to start believing that age is truly just a number.
“Maintaining a high muscle force-generating capacity into older age is related to beneficial effects on functional performance, which may not be achieved with recreational activity, thus highlighting strength training as an important contribution to healthy aging.” (Unhjem et al. 2019)
Learn the fundamentals of strength and power training and how to put on muscle at ANY age.
“Despite what could be interpreted as a blunted ‘physiologic reserve’ in aged skeletal muscle, numerous studies provide encouraging evidence that older muscles adapt vigorously to resistance training with marked myofibre hypertrophy.” (Hunter et al. 2004)
The program is here, the community is here, the coaches are here. Are you?
Obesity is killing us! Stop the fat shaming!
How about Fit Shaming?
You ever heard of it?
“Jeez you’re so skinny, you have to eat more. ”
“Just have a cookie man.”
Yeah these are things that have been said to me, as I sit at a normal (albeit a lower than average body fat percentage #shredlife), a normal BMI (body mass index or height to weight ratio), and probably taking in more calories than said shamer.
“That girl looks so silly.”
As an overweight girl tries to figure out how to follow along with a youtube dance video.
“What the hell is that guy doin?”
As the baby boomer gentlemen who has never exercised is attempting to do kettlebell swings for the first time.
Things I’ve heard in commercial gym settings.
The biggest reason we might die as per the newest research is not that we’re fat, its that we don’t MOVE.
“Findings from a recent meta-analysis suggest that poor cardiorespiratory fitness is an independent and a better predictor of mortality than obesity, and that the risk for all-cause and cardiovascular mortality is higher in individuals with normal body mass index (BMI) and poor physical fitness, compared with individuals with high BMI and good physical fitness (Silverman and Duester, 2014).”
Fit shaming, ever heard of it?
– Your Fitness Liason
Paul W. Park Co-founder/Owner
Semi Private Personal Training – Is it for me?
Yes! Seems like we’re jumping the gun? Well… Upfit’s small group training program is for everyone.
Personal trainers are incredibly effective for achieving your fitness goals. They help you with form, programming and keep you motivated throughout. But what if we told you that with group training you get the focus of a personal trainer and the fortified support of a community working right alongside you. You know how they say there’s power in numbers well group training might be just what you need to unleash your own.
The cost of semi-private training is the perfect middle ground.
We’d be remiss if we ignored the cost aspect. After all it’s a major factor in almost every life decision. Group personal training is the equivalent of a ride share with your friends. You’re all headed in the same direction and in either situation you’re going to get there, but with a group you’re going to split the bill and have some laughs along the way. Not only that but you’ll be able to take a cab more often due to the savings from that last ride. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
But I’m used to training one on one. Won’t I lose some of that attention?
Small groups will still have a private trainer giving you all the personal attention, the right pointers and ensure you’re using proper form. You will still have the utmost highest quality fitness training program tailored specifically to your needs. Often people worry that the transition to a group from one on one training will decrease the efficiency of the program but, in the hands of the right trainer, that couldn’t be further from the truth. What’s actually going to happen is you will still be guided thoroughly but also gain the energy and support from those who have joined you in your journey. It’s an extremely powerful tool in being able to push your body to new limits. This pack mentality will help you break through mental and physical barriers you never thought possible. Consistently training in a group setting has you motivating each other. It’s easy to skip leg day (and then another one, and then another one…) when you’re training alone. When training together, peer motivation will keep you going.
Large fitness classes get me motivated. Is this really right for me?
Group fitness classes are wonderful. You jump into a high intensity activity with a sea of people and burn burn burn for the next hour. This goes on for a while and then you hit a very common roadblock; injury. In massive group classes it can be very difficult for a single trainer to be able to keep tabs on the proper forms of all the attendees. A warm up for one person is a full workout for another. We can’t fault them because it would be nearly impossible for any fitness trainer to train 20+ people with any sort of focus or control. Sadly, injuries can set someone back and even stop them from ever returning to the activities they love. At UpFit our trainers are going to keep you excited about your workout and just as motivated as any large class but they’re going to do it in a safe manner that allows you to continue pain free.
Semi-Private training sessions are the perfect middle ground between the most popular training modalities. UpFit’s signature cost efficient small group training program combines individualization with the fun dynamic energy of a group setting. If you’re looking to take your fitness to the next level come try it out today. You’ll wonder how you trained any other way. Check out the results other members have had!
Personal Trainer Traits To Look For
By: Paul W. Park M.S. CSCS
When I first became a personal trainer I remember a colleague saying “People become personal trainers when they don’t want to be waiters”. As a young trainer at the time it seemed a little condescending. Surely being a trainer required a special set of skills and proficiency that not everyone had? Fast forward a bunch of years and here I am today, a career trainer, with a an understanding of what he meant.
The fitness industry is not regulated. Legally speaking anyone is a trainer in their own right. There’s no overseeing body that gives out licenses and no state exam. We have independent companies giving out certifications but no one to accredit those institutions. The amount of choices out there is unfathomable. The masses have determined a select few to be well respected (NASM, ACSM, etc.) but that doesn’t mean you can’t go online and get a different cert in minutes. Don’t get me wrong, most gyms will not hire someone without a more accredited cert but that doesn’t change the overall landscape. You’re not going to find the best trainer by looking at a resume but watch their training and you’ll clearly distinguish between the ok trainers and the great ones.
Jim Bishop once said that a good drunk doesn’t necessarily make a good bartender. A fit person doesn’t necessarily make a good trainer. There’s simply a lot more to it. As I delved further into the industry I started to see all the different aspects needed to make a truly good trainer. So with that here are some things to look for:
1) Look for higher education. This is your health we’re talking about. Your trainer should be fully invested in fitness and in turn your well being. A degree in the field really means a lot. It’s not the end all and doesn’t automatically make someone good but it’s definitely a nice start. Also look for someone who wants to further their education. Continuing education is a huge part of the field as our understanding of the human body progresses. If your trainers education remains stagnant there’s a good chance you will too.
2) A passion for fitness. More directly a passion for your fitness. If a trainer shows no interest in your session then it’s time to move on. Look for a high energy individual who loves what they do and gets as excited as you do when you reach your goals.
3) Correction and Attentiveness. Let’s start with the obvious. A trainer does not need to be on the phone the whole session. If they aren’t particular about your movements and showing your correct forms then you need to look for another trainer. During the workout if at any point you don’t feel comfortable, you need to speak up. The trainer should attempt to fix, enlighten, or offer a replacement. If the trainer doesn’t respond constructively, you need another trainer! All the workouts in the world mean absolutely nothing if you walk away with injuries and cannot continue. I can’t overstate how important form is to all of this. It’s ok to ask questions, your comfort and well-being should be priority in all your sessions.
* A special side note for group fitness here. I recognize it can be difficult for a trainer to manage large workout classes but it’s all the more important you see them correcting improper form. This is why at Upfit we cap our group fitness classes at only 4 people. It’s important to us that all clients receive ample attention.
4) Look for programming. Often I see trainers throwing random workout routines at people. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why those movements were used. There’s no tracking, there’s no progression. Even worse they ask “What did we do last time?”. If your trainer doesn’t even know what they did with you during your last session that’s a huge red flag. How can you reach a specific goal if there’s no quantitative progression towards said goal? Look for a personal trainer who creates customized fitness regimens for their clientele.
5) Find a personality you mesh with. This one will be more so based on personal taste but you should enjoy being around your trainer. If you dread their personality or if you seem to clash then you need to move on. For many people staying consistent is hard enough, the last thing you need is a trainer who doesn’t brighten your day. I’m not saying we’re therapists but the word “personal” is in our job title so odds are you’re going to want to like the person. It goes both ways; a trainer has to be comfortable and enjoy training their client. While a session can be physically grueling it still needs to be absolutely enjoyable for all involved.
Paul W. Park is a personal trainer and co-owner of Upfit Training Academy a workout studio offering unique 4 person capacity fitness classes in NYC
The ability to bounce back.
To learn from our mistakes.
Our bodies ability to build bone density with weight lifting.
Our immune system’s natural way of vaccinating us against diseases.
It’s what makes the human being so resilient.
More specifically anti-fragile.
As Nassim Taleb explains in his book “Antifragile”, antifragility is better than resiliency, because it allows for gain from stressful events.
We have the awesome ability to get better and stronger, physically and emotionally after recovering from stressful events.
Our hardships develop our character. As does exercise for our physical bodies. As does going outside playing and rolling around in the dirt as a kid fortifying our immune systems as adults.
We have that ability, but we’re not bulletproof, there’s a Goldilocks zone. Where the soup is not too hot, not too cold, but just right.
Are we getting enough SLEEP? Are we eating nutrient dense foods? Hydrated? Are we over-stressed from our demanding bosses, bills, relationships? People forget that stress is not just a mood but a physiological response.
Stress is not a mental thing that can be wished away but a physical part of your being at any given moment.
That’s why we ask these questions to new clients during our initial UpFit Assessment. Because we might need to dial back the first week.
There’s been more times than I can count as a young ambitious coach when I put new clients through hard workouts their first day. No matter how much sleep they got, no matter their fitness level, never asking how they were feeling.
2 days later they would text me saying they’re sick, and can’t make the next workout.
80% of the time I would never see them again.
We forget exercise is inherently a stress as well. And to an unfit, over-stressed, and under-slept trainee it can put them into the too hot “goldilocks” zone where you end up burning your tongue.
Bring out those anti fragile capabilities of our body. As we become more fit, our physical anti fragile abilities will fortify. Just make sure you’re hydrating, prioritizing your sleep, and telling your boss to shove it.
-Coach Paul is a master trainer and co-owner of Upfit Academy – Small Group Fitness and Personal Training Specialists proximal to Midtown NYC.