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There will always be debate among health and fitness professionals over the “best” exercises for our clients. New versions are created every day but two “oldies but goodies” we like are the basic push-up and hip hinge. They are the foundations for movements of every day living and help build strong, fit bodies.

Let’s start with “The Hip Hinge“.  Anytime you pick up something or bend over you are performing a hip hinge. This move should consist of bending the knees and then hinging at the hips. Often people will use their upper backs and round over instead of hinging correctly.  When bending over you will use muscles in the upper and lower back but when you bending forward you use your hips as a hinge while utilizing the glutes and hamstrings.  Our “backside” muscles are weak due to the fact we sit at a desk, on a plane, or in a car, a lot; it’s how we spend a large majority of our time.  Our posture suffers due to this weakness and is often the cause of many injuries, aches and pains.

When hinging correctly, these muscles get stronger, our posture can improve and we move better in sports and life.  Some basic hip-hinge exercises are the deadlift and kettlebell swing. They recruit many of these large muscles and are great for fat burning and muscle building.

To learn how to perform a hip hinge correctly you’ll need a dowel that is about 3 ft long (like a broom handle). Place it against your back with one hand up behind the neck and one hand at the lower-back area. Make sure the length of the dowel doesn’t go below the tailbone and keep the back of your head, upper back (between the shoulder blades) and tailbone against the dowel through the entire movement. Pay attention to your shoulders and make sure they stay down as you move forward and maintain the natural curve of your lower back. Your body weight should be even between ball of your foot and heels; stay out of your toes.

Press your back against a wall and step one foot-length away from the wall. At this distance, place your feet at shoulder-width distance apart. Begin with the knees slightly bent, but don’t let them bend any further during the movement. Move the hips backward toward the wall and the torso toward the floor, keeping all the above-mentioned points of contact with the dowel. Keep the hips moving backward until they contact the wall, and keep the torso moving downward until it either reaches parallel to the ground or you begin to lose contact with the dowel at your head, the area between your shoulder blades or the tailbone. Once this point is reached, keeping all points of contact, return to the upright position. Breathe out as you go down and breathe in as you return to standing.

Our second choice is the “Push-Up“.  Push-ups use nearly every muscle in the body and require the body to work together as the muscles of the front and back of the body move the body down to the ground and back up again. A good checklist to follow for your push-ups are as follows: start on hands and knees with shoulders over your hands and the hips over the knees; head in front of the fingers and hands a little greater than shoulder width apart. Lift up into a plank. Hips should be in line with the spine and parallel to the ground; squeeze glutes tightly and keeping shoulders away from the ears lower yourself to the ground. Breathe in as you lower yourself to the ground and exhale as you push up.

If you cannot do a full push-up you can do it on your knees, on an incline bench or the wall.

There are many additional foundation exercises but by mastering these two exercises your strength and fitness will be enhanced.

For additional information or if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask one of us – we are here to help you.