3 Hip Mobility Exercises to Build Hip Strength and Function

Motion

Active mobility training is life-changing.

LIFE CHANGING.

In my experience, most people are going to notice the most significant improvements from dedicated mobility training in the hip and shoulder region.  

Getting the shoulders and hips working nice, pain-free, strong, and supple is a good goal for ANYONE.

And I know saying that sounds really broad, but a body that works nicely without pain during movement is ideal.  

Today’s post shares 3 hip mobility exercises that can wake up your hips and make them feel great.  

I preach to play the long game with fitness.  Whether you’re pursuing a body transformation, performance gains, or general health improvement, it’s going to take time.

Nothing long-lasting happens overnight with fitness and movement.  

It’s a process.

But after “blowing the dust” off of your hip musculature with a few good work sets of active mobility work, your hips will likely feel amazing.

“Amazing” = buttery, mobile, alive, awake, workable, etc.

The basic premise of active mobility training is to increase range of motion (progressively) and establish full CONTROL over that range of motion.

We accomplish this using a variety of isometric holds and dynamic movements. 

Conditioning the hips, a ball-and-socket joint with a really robust potential for movement in many directions, to perform tasks beyond lifts like deadlifts, squats, and lunges is ESSENTIAL.  

Deadlifts, squats, and lunges are all great exercises to include in a workout regimen.  

No question.

My YouTube channel is loaded with variations of each of those movement patterns.

But, from a joint articulation perspective, these exercises only scratch the surface.

Your hips can do more.  Way more.  Mobility training can help retrain your body to access this movement.  

Don’t interpret my message as a call to stop lifting weights.   but rather an encouragement to deliver nourishment to your joints in the form of active mobility training.   

Dedicated mobility training can help mitigate injury while boosting movement performance. 

Building strong hips is can be made simple, and these 3 hip strengthening exercises will help to improve your hip control and strength.

90/90 Knee to Heel

Touch the knee to the heel.  

Position the hands in front and outside the lead leg, using your arms to prevent any contorting of the body.

While moving the leg, hover the knee an inch or two above the floor while the foot lightly glides.  Keep the floor pressure as soft as possible.

After touching the knee to the heel, drive the leg away from the heel as far back as possible.  

Squeeze the glute hard and PUSH!

Keep the torso calm throughout the drill.

Aim for 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps per side.

 

90/90 Heel to Heel

Same idea here, except right before the knee touches the heel, articulate the hip and lift the knee upward.  

Guide the trailing foot heel to contact the down leg heel.

Some people might refer to this as a “heel click”.  

Call it whatever pleases you, just make sure you try it. 

Lightly touch heels without losing body position before reversing the range of motion and reaching back.

On the reach back, SQUEEZE your ass cheek HARD.  REACH!!!

Aim for 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps per side.

90/90 Around the World

I wasn’t sure how to name this movement, “around the world” seemed fitting.

Perform the same knee to the heel, upward lift into the heel to heel, but return to the leg to the start position by extending at the knee and swooping the leg back into extension (with a subtle rotational articulation).

All of the hip mobility shared will burn up the muscles to some degree, but this exercise will really set them ablaze.

Again, do your best to keep the upper body calm.  Avoid excessive leaning or other compensations.

Stay strict, make the hips do the work.

Aim for 3-5 sets of 8-10 reps per side.

How to Make These Hip Mobility Exercises Harder

Slow down and increase the time under tension.

Test your ownership over the movement by moving slower.  Try moving at a 3-count or 5-count pace.  Add pauses when you find weak points and GRIND!

Add ankle weights.  

Wearing 2-5lb ankle weights load will make each of these hip mobility variations significantly more difficult.

Especially on the 90/90 “around the world” variation.  Your face will begin to melt onto your neck.  

A 5lb ankle weight will feel like 25lbs when your leg is at full extension.  🔥 

A simple pair of ankle weights serve a valuable purpose with mobility training, and if you didn’t find the bodyweight variations difficult, take a shot of whiskey because adding weight is going to increase the intensity quickly.  

Consistently practicing active mobility drills helped me make gains with my lifts.   

I fought the idea for years and talk about it frequently on this blog and in the description section of my YouTube videos. 

Deadlifts clean up.  Squats clean up.  Overhead movements clean up.  

I couldn’t touch the dragon squats for months.  It got to a point where I wasn’t even sure my bony structure would allow me to perform a full range dragon squat.  Ha.  Regressions provided limited improvements.  

 

My hips didn’t understand they could move into those “extreme” ranges without compromising safety.  Our bodies are equipped with amazing safety features. 

So I turned my attention to ramping up the mobility work (along with dragon squat regressions), and whammo… depth achieved.  

I prefer these Valeo ankle weights that are adjustable from 5lbs to 20lbs.  

For Best Results

Give every work-set full attention and focus and don’t let your mind wander during the exercise.  

Center yourself, and stay in the moment.  

Expect these drills to be humbling.  Moving the hips like this will light up the muscles different than any traditional exercise. 

You can expect soreness in the days afterward. 

One workout is not enough to make forever change.  Mobility, just like strength, requires ongoing TLC.  

Patience.  

It took a while to arrive at your current state, it’s going to take some time to reverse it. 

Give the body time to adapt to the stress to make room for the next bout of stress.

Related Posts and Resources:

14 Exercise Total Body Warm-Up Routine

Home Gym Workouts! 31 Exercises to Stay Fit and Other Fitness Things

The Weighted Lizard Crawl

MyMobilityDaily (best streaming mobility training program)

Basics of The Ido Portal Training Method

Ido Portal

 

Ido Portal

{Photo Credit:  www.idoportal.com}

Ido Portal Method training is taking off like rocket and growing in popularity every single day.  There’s no shortage of Ido Portal movement videos on YouTube and commentary from bloggers and podcasters regarding his views on the health and wellness industry.

[I do not speak for Ido Portal in any way.  Ido is a man with his own original thoughts and ideas.  Anything I write or discuss on this blog is my interpretation of information he’s published on his social media page, his old blog, Youtube interviews and various other sources.]

My background…

I have a deep background in strength and conditioning.  It’s traditional in every sense of the word.  Probably too traditional in fact.  It’s taken years to drop my guard on these traditional ways and open up to other movement training philosophies.  Old habits truly die hard.  

Very quickly, I realized Ido Portal Method was a different approach to “fitness”.

Ido Portal Method wasn’t pigeon-holed to doing things one way.  It was like an open platform of movement, capable of changing shape and direction, always seeking a higher standard.

The information I was taking in was unlike anything I’d seen before. 

Since my initial exposure, I’ve begun the process of digesting and translating Ido’s information.  This article represents some of that digestion and translation. 

The shift in my movement I.Q. has been profound, despite not committing 100% to his programming.  I’ve integrated many of Ido Portal style “beginner” movement drills into my own workouts with great success.  

I’ve also played around with my own variations of locomotion patterns.IMG_4167 

Above is a snapshot of a “feeler” lizard crawl exercise.  The goal of this exercise was to feel out the demands of the lizard crawl, from a strength, mobility and stability perspective.  

It’s been humbling, frustrating and exciting to explore new realms of movement.

Here’s my interpretation of the “movement culture”.

Ido Portal Training Methodology…

If you’re looking to get the summarized view (“movement” is a hard topic to summarize) of what drives Ido Portal’s movement methodology, it’s generally accepted to resemble something like the following:

Isolation—>  Integration—> Improvisation

Step 1:  Isolation

Step 2:  Integration

Step 3: Improvisation

However, of what I currently comprehend about Ido’s training philosophies, the transition from isolation to integration to improvisation serves as the fundamental backbone of the movement system.

It’s a higher standard and a logical progression.  

Here are some details on each phase…

Isolation

In the Ido Portal Method, Isolation based movement is essential to forward progress.  

Strength is a prerequisite.  You must continually work to become stronger.

Ido Portal Method Isolation = movement patterns.

Movement patterns include variations of:  squats, deadlifts, vertical pulling and pressing, horizontal pulling and pressing, glute-ham raises, rotational exercises, core training, olympic lifting, stabilization drills, kettlebells work, etc… all fall into the Isolation column.

Most of you will be familiar with these exercises.  

There’s also a heavy emphasis on high tension bodyweight-based strength training exercises in the Ido Portal exercise catalog.  

Body levers, hanging and climbing, dips, muscle ups, parallette work such as L-Sits, and Tuck Planches, single leg squats, single arm pressing, handstand push-ups and various locomotion patterns (crawling, rolling, etc.)

Gymnastics strength training.

Mixing traditional strength training with body-weight based exercise is a potent combination.  Both are time-tested, proven strength building strategies essential to physical development. 

I do not believe traditional strength training (barbells, kettlebells, etc) is superior to bodyweight based training (gymnastics rings, single arm/leg, etc)

Both can serve a valuable purpose in a training program.

Increasing one’s athletic capacities with Isolation style training is the path to being able to piece together movement sequences, and eventually improvised movement flow. 

Fitness is evolving quickly.  Today’s baseline movement standards and practices are much higher than they were 2 or 3 years ago.  

Taboo training methods such as rope climbing, moving odd-objects, locomotion, spinal waves and bodyweight-based training are now in the spotlight.  

Multi-planar strength and movement freedom.

The lightbulb moment and humbling part for me was realizing that the lowest rung of Ido’s movement classification system is what are commonly viewed as the highest rung of the ladder for most anyone else.  HIGHER STANDARDS! 

There’s a realm of physical training that exists beyond fixating on sets, reps, weight lifted, and racing the clock to set new P.R.’s.  

Handstands, leg-less rope climbing, ground-based movement flow training packed with locomotion patterns and bodyweight movement patterns are here.  Our bodies are designed to move freely.   

 Flow

Ido Portal Method combines the best of many movement disciplines.

Integration

Integration is the point where movement sentences are formed from the words (isolation).  

A squat, is no longer just a squat.  A squat fuses itself into a seamless flow with another movement pattern, no gaps between the two.  Through progression, more and more movement patterns are strung together.  A series of movement patterns formulating a “sentence” of movement.  

  • Sidenote:  Many will notice a heavy Capoeira influence in Ido’s teachings.

Here’s a video example:

The ground conditioning (locomotion patterns, Capoiera, etc) combined with gymnastics/bodyweight/traditional strength training, fused with flexibility and mobility work is NOT NEW, but since it’s being repackaged and people are seeing incredible results, it’s definitely creating a paradigm shift in fitness.  

Baseline movement standards have risen.  “Fitness” less about who can build the best looking body or lift the most weight (both respectable pursuits), it’s about moving and how your body can perform when confronted with the known and unknown.

The shift is on and people are taking notice.

Nike has…

Ido Portal Nike

Instagram is loaded with people who’ve discovered the movement culture.  

Another example of Integration…

Integration builds on the physical preparation from isolation training.  

Pre-planned movement sequences make up part of the Integration phase.  This is similar to a dancer demonstrating a choreographed routine.  Just because the routine has been practiced for months doesn’t make it any easier to execute.  

I’ve watched the “Locomotion Research” video 50+ times.  Watching someone move like water is inspiring.  The movement sequences demonstrated in the video are deceptively difficult.  

Ground-based locomotion is a multi-planar movement requiring a level of body awareness, joint range of motion and on again/off again body tension most people rarely practice.  A lot of it is quadrupedal, performed with hand and feet in contact with the floor. 

Again, I’m talking about scenario where it’s bodyweight versus gravity using various dynamic patterns (crawling, twisting, turning, balancing, etc).  Many of these patterns are animal-like.

On first exposure, people are often quickly humbled by the amount of mobilityvand strength needed for locomotion patterns.  You’ll be sore in the days after.

I’ve found variations of the Lizard Crawl to bridge the gap between “lifting weights” and putting those gains toward challenging movement patterns.

While crawling, there’s a feeling of connectedness, awareness, task oriented challenge.  I don’t get the same feeling from squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, etc.

Improvisation…

Ido has commented on numerous podcasts that improvised movement represents the highest form of human movement.  I couldn’t agree more.

Dominating isolation exercises makes the transition to integration significantly easier.  

With consistent practice of Isolation and Integration, one will arrive at the final progression of Ido’s movement philosophy… improvisation.

World-class gymnasts (pound for pound the strongest people on the planet) are rarely expressing improvised movement.  Competition routines are all pre-planned, practiced and choreographed prior.  

Improvisation is the combination of isolation and integration.  You’re essentially making it up as you go, or “flowing”.  Though it will likely take years of dedicated practice, improvised movement flows are achievable.  

This is where progression becomes important.  

Flowing like Ido Portal doesn’t happen overnight.  This isn’t to say significant progress won’t be made, but like anything worthwhile, practice is king.  Gains may come fast, than slow, than fast, than halted, etc.   

I’ll spend less time describing the Improvisation phase of the Ido Portal Method because most folks need to focus on nailing down the elements of Isolation and Integration for a long, long time.  

In interviews, Ido has mentioned several times he thinks there is a dimension to be explored beyond Improvisation.  Where do we go after improvisation?  Ido wasn’t quite sure, but the feeling is that something else exists.

Levitation? 🙂

Isolation and Integration Progress

The Ido Portal Method represents an incredible shift with how we view and define fitness.  

Humans are made to move (climb, run, jump, roll, carry, etc) and I think there is an emerging sector of people who want to experience the thrill of moving in this way.  

It’s important to clarify that traditional physical fitness modalities aren’t obsolete.  Nor should they be.  

A person must spend a great deal of time gaining ground in the Isolation phase,  grooving technique, building strength, improving joint control throughout a range of motion.  

Hammering away on the basics (Isolation exercises, squats, pulling, etc) is fundamental to progress.  Further down in this article I’ve shared two training programs that will bring a person very close the foundational work needed to progress through the Ido Portal Method.  

At the end of the day, a stronger, more stable, more mobile, more resilient body makes for a more useful human.  A life lived through movement can be an exhilarating life.  

Training Programs Similar to Ido Portal Method

Several years ago, I started looking for alternatives to the Ido Portal Method because nothing was being offered through Ido’s web store link.  It seemed like there were plans to create a product, but ultimately it never came to be.  

Here are a few programs I highly recommend:

  • Movement 20XX
  • Global Bodyweight Training
  • MyDailyMobility

Each program provides a different benefit.  Yet used in combination, they help each accelerate results. 

Movement 20XX  is the program for learning and practicing ground-based movement, locomotion patterns (lizard crawl, etc), building movement sequences and graduating to improvised flow work.  Movement 20XX is the best option in the ground based conditioning department.

Global Bodyweight Training teaches the potency of properly administered bodyweight strength training techniques.  Strength is critical for performance and long-term health.  Pistol squats, one arm push ups, handstands, l-sits, body levers, upper body pulling, etc.  The most effective movements are detailed in GBT.  

MyMobilityDaily is a mobility based training system designed expand joint range of motion and create OWNERSHIP (strength, stability and control) over the range of motion.  Building strength at end range is CRITICAL.  The follow along techniques in MDM create full ownership over your joints. Effective mobility training is the most mis-understood area of fitness.  Gym goers perform leg swings, T-Spine drills and static stretches for years without any results.  

The guys at MDM are teaching techniques from Functional Range Conditioning, which is the single best thing to happen to the fitness industry.  

Starting in on a quality mobility training regimen is life changing. 

I’ll have a full write up on why MDM is a game changer.

Here’s bit more about Movement 20XX and Global Bodyweight Training…

Movement 20XX

Screen Shot 2019-11-15 at 11.12.03 AM

Movement 20XX is a ground-based bodyweight training system that teaches many of the locomotion patterns and flow work found in Ido Portal Method.   

Locomotion consists mainly of quadrupedal ground-based exercises like crawling (Lizard Crawl, etc), switches, transitions, etc… and you’ll find a ton of floor work inside of
Movement 20XX.  

Integrating Movement 20XX into my own workout regimen has been a game changer.  

Flow training broke the monotony of traditional lifting and brought me back to natural movement, free of equipment, just me, my thoughts, my bodyweight and the floor.  

It restored the creative side of moving and put the spotlight on my lack of body awareness in space, mobility and strength.  

Depending on how I structure elements of Movement 20XX for the day, it’s also been great for strength-endurance work.  

Movement 20XX is loaded with smart exercise progressions.  

Novice or advanced, it doesn’t matter. Movement 20XX provides exercise progressions for all movement levels, all of the way up to movement mastery.    

Movement 20XX introduction to ground based movement begins with pre-planned movement sequences, very similar to Ido Portal Method.

Crawling patterns, switches and transitions are all worked in isolation first, integrated into flowing sequences, and later fused into improvised flow workouts.

Similar to Ido Portal Method, Movement 20XX combines ideas from many different movement disciplines to create a hybrid system of movement.  

The tempo of exercises and workouts can be manipulated to elicit a cardio-strength training effect or a dynamic yoga-like experience.

I’ve played around with adjusting the tempo, exercise variations and even brought Movement 20XX based exercises into cardio based work capacity circuits for conditioning.   

My Experience with Movement 20XX

I stumbled onto Movement20XX not long after finding The Ido Portal Method.  

At the time, I wanted to know what was beyond lift weights, adding weight, etc.  

Crawling patterns peaked my interest, but I wasn’t sure where to start or how to implement crawling into my workouts.

Natural, bodyweight-based ground conditioning seemed like a logical approach to filling in the gaps missed from traditional resistance training.  

Founder of Vahva Fitness and creator of Movement 20XX, Eero Westerberg, has great movement capacity and was demonstrating a lot of these ground based techniques on his YouTube channel.  

This led me to Movement 20XX.

Since then, I’ve cherry-picked many different exercises and movement sequences from Movement 20XX.  

I started with the basics.  

The first few months of ground work left me frustrated and sore.  

I was a pretty athletic guy, but felt uncoordinated, lost in space and flustered with the sloppiness of my movement.  

My spinal control was terrible.  Years of “bracing”, “neutral spine” and stability training had left me SUPER STIFF.  In time, this improved.  

Comparing older videos to more recent videos, it’s amazing to see the difference.  

It’s liberating (and fatiguing) to move around an open space for 20-30 minutes, varying the movement patterns, sequences and tempo.  

👉 Learn more Movement 20XX, here’s the official website: Movement 20XX

Global Bodyweight Training:  

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 6.12.15 AM

Strength is the foundation of movement and control over one’s bodyweight.

Bodyweight Athlete is a bodyweight based strength program designed to build premiere movement patterns, such as horizontal pushing, horizontal pulling, vertical pushing, single leg squats and progressive core training.

Bodyweight Athlete covers the following:

  • Muscle Ups
  • Handstand Push Ups
  • Single Arm Push Ups
  • Single Arm Body Rows
  • Pistol Squats
  • Handstands
  • L-Sits
  • Human Flags (aka: body levers)
  • Back Levers

Improving performance in any or all of the movements listed above has great transfer into ground flow training and eventually, improvised work.  

Earning higher level movement requires an constant pursuit of strength in basic bodyweight movement patterns.  Pressing, pulling, squatting, core strength and stability, etc.  Single arm and single leg work.  

Once I realized how potent effective bodyweight training can be, it changed my opinions on what it means to be “strong” and have bodyweight control.    

The workout design, exercise progressions and step-by-step tutorials make Bodyweight Athlete a great bodyweight-based program.    

   

The human body is adaptation machine. 

You‘ll struggle with many of these bodyweight movements early on.  

In the beginning, only the eccentric phase of single arm push ups might manageable.  

With consistent practice and adaptation, full range single arm push ups become a reality.  

Same goes for lower body and core drills.  The human body is an adaptation machine if you keep introducing progressive stress.  

Proper progression, consistent practice and willingness to put forth effort will transform your performance.

Strength (like many athletic qualities) is built with…

  • Smart exercise progression.
  • Progressive overload.
  • Progressive exercise complexity and volume.
  • Rest and Recovery.

Smart progressions are extremely powerful.  Combining smart exercise progressions with simple accessory work like mobility, stability and flexibility training… strength gains can be made safely and quickly.  

Improving the basics of Isolation is often a missing link to building movement capacity.

Gaining strength in isolated chunks is essential to improving movement capacity.  

GBT’s flagship training program,  “Bodyweight Athlete” costs $150.  

Considering the time you’ll likely waste trying to piece meal your own program or the cost per hour of hiring an in-person coach, that $150 investment quickly becomes quite inexpensive.

Bottomline…

Find a program and follow the details.  When movements, reps, sets, flows start to feel easy, move on to the next progression.  Celebrate your progress but don’t celebrate for too long.  Set your sights on the next challenge

Don’t be afraid to film yourself.  Take before and after videos to see the progress.  There are few things more motivating than to to see your movement (and your body) change.  It’s a highly personal experience and very rewarding.  You put in the work and you receive the reward.  

Speed bumps and stalls in progress are temporary.  Deliver the training stimulus, recover, adapt, attack the training stimulus once again.   

There will be days and weeks where you feel like you’re not gaining any ground on your goals.  These are the moments are when you strap in and train harder/smarter, with increased focus and intent.  Discipline.  

Above all else, keep moving and moving often. 

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If you’ve enjoyed the material here, make sure you check out other M(eaux)tion content:

Cheers to the Basics of The Ido Portal Training Method…

KG

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