I'm an average male, which means my hips are incredibly tight. When women cross their legs, they're usually able to lay one thigh on top of the other. Like many men, I can get about as far as resting one ankle on top of my other knee. Hip tightness among men is so widespread that this ankle-on-knee position is pretty much considered the go-to male version of crossing your legs.
Maybe you can cross those stems at will, but once it comes time to squat, your hips tell a different story. It could be back squats, front squats, goblet squats—you name it, the story is the same. You look good for the top-half range of motion, but then the torso tilts, the butt winks, the heels come up—all the bad stuff they tell you not to do.
If you want to lift and live to your fullest, you need hips that can swivel and crouch with the best of them—the best, of course, being "Elvis the Pelvis," the king of hip mobility.
Get Down On It and Do That 90-90
Strength coach Dean Somerset, author of the article "Mobile Muscle: Your Active Mobility Plan for Increased ROM and Strength," recently published a video laying out the essentials of the 90-90 hip rotation.
You may know it as "that thing all those freakily mobile people on Instagram always seem to be doing, but I didn't know had a name." Now you can not only know it, but squeeze it in from time to time throughout the day—as long as you have a place where you feel comfortable getting down on the floor and moving around a bit. Somerset says he's done this workout on the floor at an airport in full view of his fellow travelers. If that kind of open display isn't for you, just find a more private place.
Viking Strength Through Mobility
If you want to go a little deeper and understand just what's going on in your hips, including your hip flexors, Matt Biss has both the science and the system to improve your hip mobility and overall athleticism. His article "Flex Those Flexors: 3 Steps to Powerful Hips" lays out a three-step approach. First, unglue the hip flexors (painfully) with a lacrosse ball, then stretch them with the "couch stretch." Next, strengthen them with floor-slide mountain climbers.
Mobilize, stretch, then strengthen. That's the way to build hips that aren't only mobile, they're ready for action.
Fear Not the Ball, Roller, or Squat
Powerlifter Matt Vincent is a big fan of well-trained hips, too. When squat depth is part of your sport, you have to be!
In his article "Unlock the Power of Your Hips," Vincent notes that "for athletes—and strength athletes in particular—where it counts is the hips. Your ability to move with strength and authority is determined by the amount of power and force you can generate, and that power comes from your hips."
Vincent shows you how to use lacrosse balls, foam rollers, paused squats, and band-assisted squats to not only boost mobility, but also enable your hips to be the powerhouse of all of your athletic endeavors—as they should be.
Learn from all three of these approaches to hip mobility and you'll see better results in the gym and, who knows, maybe on the dance floor, too.