Strong and powerful hips Single leg hip hinges
As we have discussed before, the legs play an important part in the golf swing. Having both stability and strength in the legs is important. The hips and the back of the legs (Glutes and hamstrings) work very hard throughout the golf swing to both create and resist forces. An excellent exercise that develops many of these qualities is the ‘Single leg hip hinge’. It challenges your balance, core stability, hip/leg and upper body strength.
How it benefits your body
Being strong in the hips and legs is important to help you in virtually all day-to-day activities from walking, to standing up from a chair or stepping up on a step. The other big group of movements this exercise will help with is general bending/lifting. Often when you bend over to pick something up you should be looking to bend from the hips and utilize the powerful hip and leg muscles rather than all the effort come from the lower back (think how you often pick a golf ball out of the hole and see how similar this exercise looks to that action!).
The large gluteal (buttock) muscles are hugely important and making sure they are strong is one of the most important things you can do in your training.
Muscles can work by contracting and getting shorter as well as by lengthening under tension and acting as a brake to control a joints movement or action. The single leg hip hinge is excellent at doing both of these things.
How it benefits your golf game
In this exercise the big hamstring muscles work very hard to control the lowering of the torso as the hip hinges into flexion. As you come back up into an upright position the hip moves forcefully as it extends to a neutral position working the gluteals and hamstring muscles. Both of these actions happen in the golf swing with an explosive extension of the hips from the top of the backswing as your drive through the ball. Getting strong and stable in the hip and knee and the muscles that control these joints will have great effects on your golf swing whilst helping to reduce the chance of many common injuries we see in golfers with weaknesses in these areas.
They can be done as part of your general fitness training as well as in your warm up. These are the same type of exercises that the European Tour professionals do on Tour.
How to do an ‘Single leg hip hinge’
Keep the knee on the leg you are standing on very slightly flexed and soft during the movement but remember the knee position shouldn’t change. The aim of this exercise as the name would suggest is to ‘hinge from the hip’ as you lean forward and lower your chest towards the floor, driving the other leg back. Make sure you keep a neutral strong spine position throughout this exercise (avoid excessive rounding of the shoulders or back). Come back up to the standing position by working hard through the standing hip/ gluts and hamstrings.
- Keep your back in a neutral position and the core tightened throughout the movement (avoid bending the spine)
- Keep the standing knee slightly bent and ‘soft’ during the movement
- Keep the hips level
- Remember ‘Hinge’ don’t ‘bend’.
- Aim to get the lifted rear leg and opposite front arm horizontal with the floor at the end of the hinge.
- To progress use a Kettle bell or Dumb bell to pick up and put down with each hinge movement. First do this with the arm on the same side your standing on then try on the opposite side (much harder)
Repeat between 5-10 times for each set for 4 sets. Remember to do this exercise on both legs!
European Tour Performance Institute & Physio Unit