strength training

Mastering the Hip Hinge

The hip hinge is a key basic athletic movement that must be mastered to perform many strength training exercises in the weight-room. Squat, deadlift, push press, and Olympic lift variations are all highly reliant on this fundamental ability, plus, a rock-solid hip hinge has numerous benefits to whatever sport you play. The hip hinge is the basis of the fundamental athletic position. Building strength and endurance of the back, glute, hamstring, quad, and calf muscles involved in hip hinging will make you powerful in many elements of your game.

What is the hip hinge?

The hip hinge is the movement of pushing the hips back, maintaining a neutral spine and no more than a slight bend of the knees, balancing bodyweight between forefoot and heel. This is the power position and is a part of almost every sport–NFL combine athletes hit this position when testing their vertical jump, baseball players prepare for a ground ball in this position, sports like football, basketball, lacrosse, and soccer play defense from this position, volleyball players bump from a hip hinge, tennis players serve return from the hinge, Olympic lifters hang clean from this position, and finally, this is the deadlift position. The hip hinge is the point of optimal strength of the main muscles of the lower body: calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.


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Mastering the Hip Hinge

The hip hinge is a key basic athletic movement that must be mastered to perform many strength training exercises in the weight-room. Squat, deadlift, push press, and Olympic lift variations are all highly reliant on this fundamental ability, plus, a rock-solid hip hinge has numerous benefits to whatever sport you play. The hip hinge is the basis of the fundamental athletic position. Building strength and endurance of the back, glute, hamstring, quad, and calf muscles involved in hip hinging will make you powerful in many elements of your game.

What is the hip hinge?

The hip hinge is the movement of pushing the hips back, maintaining a neutral spine and no more than a slight bend of the knees, balancing bodyweight between forefoot and heel. This is the power position and is a part of almost every sport–NFL combine athletes hit this position when testing their vertical jump, baseball players prepare for a ground ball in this position, sports like football, basketball, lacrosse, and soccer play defense from this position, volleyball players bump from a hip hinge, tennis players serve return from the hinge, Olympic lifters hang clean from this position, and finally, this is the deadlift position. The hip hinge is the point of optimal strength of the main muscles of the lower body: calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.


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Off-Season Training for Lacrosse

While many athletes are rolling straight from spring lacrosse to summer club ball, others will have the next few months away from structured sport. Off-seasons are critical to long-term success as valuable time to lay a foundation of strength, size, speed, and athletic fundamentals. Year-round structured sports can lead to overuse injuries, burnout, and failure to maximize potential by depriving athletes of off-season training.

I’ve written many times over the last year about the value of an off-season and how to train during off-seasons to maximize success and potential. Rather than write this all again, here is the collection of off-season resources and links all in one place. A few notes: (more…)

FAQ: Squats for Rowing

baby squatThe squat is the king of lower body lifts. If you’re looking for a lift to inject power into your stroke and build a pair of thighs worth having out on race day, look no further. However, this is also a lift that can be intimidating for the beginning lifter or athlete. Familiarize yourself with the lift, how I teach it, and what cues I focus on first in my “How to Train Your Rower: The Squat” article, then check out my answers to some frequently asked questions about this awesome lift.

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How to Train Core for Rowing

Rowers love the core. No rower disputes the merit of having strong trunk muscles of the rectus abdominis, obliques, and muscles of the lumbar spine. The purpose of this article is not to convince you to train your core, because chances are, you already are!

First, let’s talk about spinal flexion training, with exercises such as crunches and sit-ups. Much has been written about this topic from a spine health perspective and whether or not loaded spinal flexion puts excess pressure on the intervertebral discs. From a rowing performance perspective, I don’t feel that it’s a movement all that useful, as spinal flexion is not a desired part of the stroke. There are plenty of other ways to train the trunk muscles that don’t risk excess spinal loading or train movements with limited carryover to rowing.

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Strength Coach Roundtable: Episode 2 Recap

In this episode of the Strength Coach Roundtable, we talked all about strength training for rowing performance.

Blake, Joe, and I wanted to go in depth on strength training purely for rowing performance. Check it out below and let us know what you think. Our next episode is going to be the other side of the coin, strength training for injury prevention, and we’ll announce a date for that soon.

Will Ruth: Twitter, Facebook, StrengthCoachWill.com

Blake Gourley: Twitter, Facebook, RowingStrength.com

Joe Deleo: Twitter, FacebookLeoTraining.io

Hear it also on Soundcloud and iTunes

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Strength Training for Masters Rowers

Will Ruth

The previous excerpt from “Rowing Stronger” discussed training and strength training at a broad level for masters rowers with topics of recovery, exercise progression, and injury prevention. After I got a shout-out from renowned masters coach Marlene Royle on a recent Rowing Chat podcast, I received several questions from masters rowers about specifics of strength training and how to start training if you are 50+ years old and have never really lifted before. Here’s my advice for how to start strength training for a male or female masters rower.

I think that Marlene’s opinion of strength training in her podcast was spot on. Strength training is a vitally important part of masters training, especially for injury prevention, but it is small in comparison to technique, aerobic endurance, and ability on the water and on the ergometer. If you aren’t technically sound on the water or on the erg, you won’t be able to display the full potential of your strength. However, if you’re a masters athlete who has spent a lot of time in the sport, developed great technique and aerobic base, but hasn’t been seeing improvement, strength training could be the missing ingredient. Read the first chapter of Rowing Stronger for free to see why training endurance from the top-down with strength work is so effective.

Technique is the first thing I emphasize with an athlete of any age. Technique is important to develop the movement patterns that will help you both in and out of the boat. I’d suggest working with a personal trainer or qualified coach on lifting technique, because it isn’t intuitive or natural to a lot of people and there are many ways to go wrong when learning a new skill. You can take this article to a personal trainer or qualified coach so they can teach you the proper technique on these simple exercises. (more…)

How to Train Your Rower: Overhead Press

Will Ruth

Part 1: The Squat

Part 2: The Deadlift

The overhead press is one of the best upper body exercises for rowers. Not only will it help you go “up and over heads,” the overhead press is a great exercise for scapular function and strengthening the whole upper back and shoulder muscles. However, this lift is often executed incorrectly in ways that fail to reap the rewards of this great exercise and have the potential to cause injury. Quality execution is critical in all exercises to gain the full benefit of strength training.

ohp

In the previous articles, I explained my system of teaching a large group of rowers the basic barbell exercises by breaking each down into 3-4 parts to simulate the commands of “arms-body-legs-catch.” You’ve seen videos from my clinic for the back squat, front squat, and deadlift. Now we will cover the final barbell exercise and main pressing exercise I use with rowers—the overhead press. In addition to tight hip flexors, many rowers have mobility restrictions in their mid back, or thoracic spine. I first instruct the athlete as best I can, then prescribe scaled-down versions of the exercise while the athlete works to develop mobility. Scaled-down versions of the overhead press include the unilateral dumbbell overhead press and the incline bench press, but the goal is that each athlete can do an overhead press safely and effectively. (more…)

Total Body Warmup for Rowing

In case you missed it, Joe Deleo, Blake Gourley, and I talked a lot about warming up and preventing rowing injuries yesterday on the first-ever Rowperfect Strength Coach Roundtable Podcast. Here’s the link to the recap with timestamps and links!

This series of exercises is designed to stretch and activate target muscles of common problem areas for rowers to be used before rowing, erging, and strength training. Warming up is an important part of maximizing performance in the short-term and health and longevity in the long-term. In the short-term, warming up helps prepare your body to execute the coming workout as effectively as possible. This is especially important for rowers who practice or train first thing in the morning. For rowers, this means activating the glutes, stretching the hip flexors, and getting the muscles of the upper torso firing. This sequence should take no more than 10 minutes.

  1. 3-5 minutes of low stress aerobic activity

Before putting strain on the muscles, increase your core body temperature with 3-5 minutes of jump rope, jogging, light erging, or stationary cycling. You should have a light sweat and slightly elevated heart rate by the end of the 3-5 minutes. (more…)

Rowing Injury Prevention: Snapping Hip Syndrome

Originally published as a guest post on Rowperfect.co.uk

Snapping Hip Syndrome (SHS) is another common injury in rowing. The most noticeable characteristic of SHS is a palpable or audible “snapping” sensation around the hip joint that may be painful or not painful. This is a common injury in rowing due to the seated and bilateral nature of the sport, resulting in chronically tight hip flexors that can lead to SHS. Prevention revolves around care of the hip flexors and muscles involved at the pelvis as well as strengthening of the antagonist groups to prevent chronic hip flexor tightness and move through a full range of motion.

There are two types of SHS, Internal and External. Anecdotally, External SHS is more common with rowers than Internal SHS. The snapping sensation in external SHS is felt on the outside of the thigh around the head of the femur, and is associated with the IT band tendon or gluteus maximus tendon. Internal SHS is felt more toward the groin and is associated with the iliopsoas tendon. Both forms of SHS are uncomfortable, often painful, and are usually a chronic injury, not a traumatic injury. [2]

I personally dealt with external SHS as a rower after a particularly vigorous early winter season of training. I have since learned a lot about the mechanism of injury and the anatomical causes, but the real problem was adding too much training volume too quickly. In Part 1, Blake mentioned the 10% rule for increasing training volume. I ramped up volume quickly on my own, adding sessions of lifting and erging to my coach’s team program without her advice or input, and suffered the consequences. This is lesson #1: always consult with your coach before adding extra work on your own. (more…)