3 Movements to Increase Hip Mobility for Weightlifting, Squats, and Functional Fitness

Most of us (weightlifters, powerlifters, functional fitness athletes, etc.) have spent a great amount of time and effort on the improvement of mobility, specifically in the hips. Mobile hips offer us injury resilience, increased performance (weightlifting in specific), and help to ensure sound joint integrity in the surrounding knees, ankles, and spine.

In earlier pieces, I discussed some quick and easy ways to increase mobility and flexibility in the hips and surrounding areas, with the top articles shown below:

In this specific article, I want to share with you quick and effective movement series that I have used to increase hip mobility and squat performance with myself, weightlifting and collegiate athletes, and aging populations.

The Series

The movement series is detailed in the below video, as well as added descriptions and explanations of each of the three movements.

Single Leg Isometrics

This exercise works very similar to most PNF stretch techniques, however is highly specific to squat patterning (you can also do it without a partner). Start by loading the stretch portion of the exercise to the end range of motion, and then actively isometrically contract the leg muscles, brace the core, and hold for time. Upon cessation of the isometric contraction, you should feel an immediate increase in range of motion. Repeating this can lead to increases in both neuromuscular control and range of motion in this squat-specific movement.

Front-Foot Elevated Couch Stretch

This take on the standard couch stretch (hip flexor stretch) increases the range of motion of the hip, knee, and ankle (due to the elevated front foot). The additional opportunity to open the hip flexor and TFL, while also performing isometrics (mentioned above) can take this movement to the next level.

Side Bends and Oblique Opener Drills

While strong and active obliques, abdominals, and hip flexors are highly beneficial to squatting, sprinting, and nearly every explosive human movement, athletes should regularly stretch and restore range of motion of these muscles and connective tissues. Performing a series of side bends and rotations, preferably in the pre-loaded movement above (front-foot elevated coach stretch), can make this opening series even more effective. By allowing the hip flexors, obliques, and TFL to become more mobile, your hips will be able to flex, extend, and rotate more freely.

Final Words

The above video and supplemental reads can be very helpful at both maintaining and attaining proper hip mobility and joint health. That said, if you have had prior injury to your hips, knees, or other joints, please refer to you sports medicine doctor is you are experiencing any pain and/or discomfort. Nonetheless, weightlifters and functional fitness athletes should place a high emphasis on their hip (as well as all joints) mobility and joint integrity. 

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured Image: J2FIT Weightlifting via Lisa Haefner Photo

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Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.