11 Best Hip Hinge Exercises + Workout

best hip hinge exercises

Hip hinging is a movement pattern that trains the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Not only is hip hinging essential for muscular development, but it is also critical for daily life, sports, and overall joint health.

As a strength coach, I will teach you the exercises you should be doing to learn how to properly hip hinge and strengthen the muscles in this movement pattern.

The 11 best hip hinge exercises are:

  • Glute Bridge
  • Rack Pull
  • Trap Bar Deadlift
  • Deadlift
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Stiff Leg Deadlift
  • Goodmorning
  • Hip Thrust
  • Staggered Stance RDL
  • Kettlebell Swing
  • Power Clean

I’ll review the benefits of each of the movements below and how you can integrate them into your workout routines today.

If you want to train hip hinges to increase muscle mass and strength of the deadlift and squat, let Fitbod help. On average, a new Fitbod user who trains 3 times a week for about 45 minutes will see a 34% strength increase after 3 months. Try Fitbod for free.

Hip Hinge Overview

The hip hinge is a movement in which your body bends at the hips so that your hips track backward, allowing your spine to stay neutral (not rounding or extending). 

You can bend your knees at varying degrees; however, the main joint movement should occur at the hips (hip flexion or bending).

When hip hinging, two muscle groups are the prime movers, and one other muscle group works isometrically (contracting, without changing position).



The glutes are made up of three smaller muscles, the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and the gluteus medius. These muscles are responsible for extending the hips (bringing the hips back to an open position after being bent over). They also work when the leg moves out laterally from the body, such as during side-lying leg lifts.

Related Article: 11 Knee Friendly Glute Exercises



The hamstrings run along the back of the legs and work at both the hips and the knees. During hip hinge movements, the hamstrings act at the hip to assist the glutes in extending the hips after being bent over.



The erectors are the muscles of the lower and mid back that work to keep the spine from flexing (rounding). During hip hinging exercises, they work isometrically (contract without lengthening or shortening) to resist the loads wanting to round the lower back.

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Benefits Of Hip Hinge Exercises

The benefits of hip hinge exercises include:

Stronger Glutes and Hamstrings

Hip hinging targets the glutes and hamstrings, making hinging movements ideal for targeting those muscle groups. Train 1-2 hinging exercises per session with hard intensity to develop the glutes and hamstrings. 

You can train them two or three times weekly, depending on the program’s goal. If you want to develop those muscles, train to hinge three times a week; if you want to build your squat, train them twice weekly).

Learn How to Bend Properly to Protect the Back

Hinging is when the pelvis and knees coordinate to allow the body to bend over without flexing or over-extending the spine. The hip hinge is a fundamental movement pattern as it will enable you to lift objects from the ground without injuring your lower back.

Learning to hinge correctly is step one, but reinforcing the hinge pattern by developing the muscles responsible for the movement (hamstrings, glutes, and back) is the key to protecting the back.

Improved Athletic Performance

Hip hinging improves your athletic capacity for sports, running, jumping, sprinting, and other explosive movements. Research has shown that stronger glutes and hamstrings (trained through hip-hinging moments) can increase all those abilities.

That said, hip hinging will give you more muscle and power to do those movements, but the skill of jumping or playing your sport is still necessary.

Decrease Lower Back Injury Risks

Hip hinge exercises decrease the risk of injury by encouraging proper movement patterns and increasing the muscular strength and tissue size of the hastings, glutes, and lower back. 

Research has found that one of the best ways to alleviate joint and lower back pain is to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes.

If you are experiencing lower back pain, first make sure you can train by seeking a medical professional. 

From there, choose exercises to prepare for the hinging movement with limited lower back involvement, such as the glute bridge, hip thrust, trap bar deadlift, and potentially staggered stance RDL.

Related Article: 8 Reasons Why You Have Knee Pain During Deadlifts

11 Best Hip Hinge Exercises

The following are the 11 best exercises for better hip-hinging mechanics and muscular development of the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

1. Glute Bridge

The glute bridge is a movement that teaches fundamental hip-hinging mechanics, builds the glutes, and helps you prepare your body for more strenuous hip-hinging exercises. 

I start all my clients with glute bridges in warm-ups (more advanced lifters who use them to get the movement patterning ready for heavier training) or in the workout itself (for beginners still learning the proper form and how to fire the glute muscles).

How To Do It

  • Lie on the ground on your back and place your feet hip-width apart. The feet should be flat on the ground, with the knees bent.
  • Flatten out your lower back onto the ground, and contract your abs.
  • Lift the hips by driving through the heels, ensuring you lift through the hips, not the ribs.
  • Pause at the top for 1-2 seconds, flex the glutes hard, and then lower and repeat.

Pro Tip

As you do this, ensure you are not arching your lower back as you lift. I often think about pulling my belt buckle (imagine you are wearing a belt) into my body as I lift. This cue will force the glutes to extend the hips rather than using the lower back to arch excessively.

2. Rack Pull

The rack pull is a deadlift movement that trains the hip hinge in a partial range of motion. Rack pulls can be helpful when learning how to deadlift or when you cannot control the back in standard deadlifts from the floor (you can build up the strength and form and slowly work yourself to the floor). 

You can do these from the knees or just below the knees if you want to shift more of the work to the glutes and back (going from a lower pulling position will train the hamstrings more).

How To Do It

  • Start with a barbell resting on the pins so that the bar is in line with the top of the shins (below the knee).
  • Step up to the bar and have the shins touch the bar, with the shins vertical.
  • Push the hips back and flatten the back, then grip the bar with a double overhand grip.
  • Stand up using the back and hips, keeping the bar in contact with the thighs the entire pull.
  • Lower it down to the rack, and repeat.

Pro Tip

Your knees may be slightly more forward than off the ground in the deadlift (they are still mostly vertical). Think about standing up with your quads and hips. 

3. Trap Bar Deadlift

The trap bar deadlift is a hinge that keeps your torso more upright than a deadlift or RDL. This exercise is ideal when learning how to hinge or if you want to train the quads and the glutes (and not so much the hamstrings). 

How To Do It

  • Load a trap bar with weight, and stand in the middle of the handles with your feet hip-width apart.
  • With a flat back, push your hips back, softly bend the knees, and grab the handles.
  • Stand up using your legs, keeping your chest up and arms long.

Pro Tip

The higher your hips are (and less knee bend), the more you will hinge at the hips and use the glutes and hamstrings to lift the weight. If you increase your knee bend and drop the hips, you will shift more to the quads (knee bending). Adjust this based on the goal.


The deadlift is like the rack pull but from the floor. When done from the floor, the deadlift trains more of the hamstrings and glutes and requires more hip hinging and flexibility than the rack pull and trap bar deadlift. 

How To Do It

  • Stand 1-2’ behind a loaded barbell on the ground, with your feet hip-width apart. 
  • Bend over by hinging at the hips, keeping your back flat. Grab the barbell with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. You can use a double overhand grip or mixed grip.
  • With a soft bend in the knees, straighten the back and stand up using the legs, hips, and back until you stand upright with the chest up, shoulders back, and legs straight.
  • Slowly lower the weight back down and repeat.

Pro Tip

Maintain tension as you lower the weight back to the floor to take advantage of the eccentric portion of the deadlift, reinforcing the hip hinge pattern and strengthening the muscles of the posterior chain.

5. Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift (RDL) is a hinging movement that targets the glutes and hamstrings. This exercise involves less knee flexion (bending) than the deadlift, which minimizes quad usage and places the lifter in a more bent-over position. 

It also isolates the hamstrings and glutes more, so it’s an excellent option if you struggle to grow or strengthen these muscle groups.

How To Do It

  • Approach a barbell on the ground and place your feet 1-2” about hip-width apart.
  • Lean over with a flat back and stiff knees and grab the barbell with a double overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  • The shins should be vertical, and you should feel tension in your hamstrings. 
  • With the spine neutral, stand up using your hamstring and hips, ensuring the knees do not bend or shift forward (keep the shins perpendicular to the ground).
  • Slowly lower the weight down and repeat.

Pro Tip

Ensure that your chest and back stay flat and your hips stay high. If your chest or hips drop, you are either rounding your back, not feeling your hamstrings, or both.

6. Stiff Leg Deadlift

The stiff leg deadlift is similar to the RDL. However, the knees are more rigid (only slightly bent). Due to the lack of knee bending, the hamstrings take on more load.

How To Do It

  • Grab a barbell with a shoulder-width grip and position your feet hip-width apart.
  • With a flat back and knees very slightly bent, push the hips back and stretch the hamstrings without letting your lower back round.
  • Lower the weight as low as possible to feel the stretch in your hamstrings, then stand back up.
  • If you don’t feel the hamstrings, ensure your knees are straight (but not hyper-extended), your back is flat, and you’re going as low as possible.

Pro Tip

If you feel this in your lower back, you may be allowing your back to round as you go down or are trying to go down so low that you end up not keeping your back straight. Adjust your position to keep your spine neutral.

7. Good Morning

The Good morning is a hinge movement with the weight on your upper back like a back squat. This movement is excellent for targeting the glutes, hamstrings, and upper and middle back. You can do this with a barbell or a safety squat bar.

How To Do It

  • Place a barbell on the upper back with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Push your hips back with a soft bend in the knees and chest up as you allow your torso to lean forward. 
  • The barbell should remain over the middle of your foot, and your chest should be proud and parallel (or near parallel) to the ground.
  • Once you cannot go any lower, keep tension in the hamstrings, stand up using the hips, and repeat.

Pro Tip

The more knee bend, the more you feel your glutes and back, whereas the straighter the knees, the more hamstrings you will get. 

8. Hip Thrust

You can use a barbell, dumbbell, or machine to do the hip thrust. This glute movement is similar to a loaded version of the glute bridge, making it great for all levels who want to train the glutes hard with weight while minimizing lower back involvement.

How To Do It

  • Place a barbell across your hips with your knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart (and flat).
  • Your upper back should be resting across a bench.
  • Lift the hips with the glutes so that your hips align with your shoulders (torso parallel to the floor).
  • Lower your hips back down and keep the upper back on the bench.

Pro Tip

Adjust your foot placement if you struggle to feel this in your glutes. If you feel your quad more, walk your feet further away. If you feel it more in your hamstrings, walk your feet closer to you. 

9. Staggered Stance RDL

The staggered stance RDL is an RDL that allows you to train one leg more than the other without being limited by your balance. When building muscle, we want to provide a stable environment for the muscles to produce force.

If you want to train the hip hinge on a single-side basis, I recommend you do these over single-leg RDLs as you can strengthen the movement and improve balance, rather than just improve balance (your balance will fail before your muscles do in a single-leg RDL).

How To Do It

  • Grab a barbell with a shoulder-width grip (or dumbbells held to the sides) and stand with your feet in line, hip-width apart.
  • Step your right leg back 4-6” and lift the back heel so that your weight is on your front foot and your back leg is used only for balance (non-weight bearing).
  • Shift your weight to your left leg and push the hips straight back, keeping the shin vertical as you develop tension in the left hamstring.
  • Lower the weights, keeping your back flat and hips high, and then stand back up once you reach the very bottom of your range of motion.
  • Repeat for reps, then switch sides.

Pro Tip

It is helpful to think about pulling the hip back slightly (don’t rotate the body, but just slightly pull the hip of the leg you are working back), as this will help you shift more of your weight into the glute.

10. Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is an explosive movement traditionally performed with a kettlebell, but you can do it with a dumbbell.

This exercise helps develop powerful hips and improve explosiveness. However, it is not the best muscle builder compared to other movements because the eccentric phase (lowering phase) is rapid, and momentum is used rather than controlling the tension without momentum.

That said, this movement aims to increase the power and explosiveness of the hips, which is ideal for sports performance and movement coordination.

How To Do It

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and toes forward as you hold the kettlebell (or dumbbell) with both hands between your hips.
  • Softly bend the knees and push the kettlebell back under your groin, keeping your back arched.
  • Push the hips back quickly and swing the kettlebell back through the legs, keeping the arms and back straight.
  • Extend the knee and hips and stand up aggressively, propelling the kettlebell in front of you as your chest stays up, legs are straight, and arms are not bent.
  • As the weight gets to the apex of the swing, pull it back down with your lats, cycling back into the next rep without stopping.

Pro Tip

Your hips should be doing the work, not the arms or shoulders. Remember, this is not a front raise shoulder movement; instead, the arms are just limbs connected to a kettlebell, keeping it on a path (not lifting the kettlebell).

11. Power Clean

The power clean is an explosive movement used to increase athletic power output. You should only perform this movement if you can adequately perform deadlifts, front squats, RDLs, and trap bar jumps.

How To Do It

  • Start with the barbell on the ground, as you would a deadlift, and drop your hips so that they are below your shoulders but above your knee level.
  • With a flat back and long arms, position your chest above the bar and stand up using the legs.
  • As you stand up, keep the bar close to the body and keep your torso bent over the bar until the bar reaches the mid to upper thighs.
  • At this point, forcefully straighten your hips and knees as if you were jumping.
  • Move the bar into the front rack position and land with the elbows pointed up with the bar resting on the front of the shoulders.

Pro Tip

You can also do this from the hang position, which offers the same benefits of the power clean (from the floor) but is easier to master as you do not need to navigate around the knees. This variation is my favorite for lifters just learning the power clean technique.

Looking for a workout program? Try using the Fitbod App, which will design your program based on your logged training data and goals. The workouts will adapt automatically to your levels of recovery and rate of progress. With over 600 movements and exercises videos, you can be sure to perform the movements correctly for optimal results. Take the guesswork out of your workouts. Try Fitbod for free.

Sample Hip Hinge Workout

sample hip hinge workout

Below are two sample hip hinge workouts. 

The first is for beginners who need to gain experience hinging from the floor. The second workout is for more advanced liters looking to strengthen their hinging abilities and add muscle to the hamstrings, glutes, and back.

Note: These workouts are not found in the Fitbod app as they are written below; however, you can use this sample training plan as a template to create your own workouts within the app. All exercises are in the Fitbod app, complete with how-to videos. 

Hip Hinge Workout 1 (Beginners)

  • Glute Bridge: 3 sets of 15 reps, resting 30 seconds between sets
  • Trap Bar Deadlift: 3 sets of 5-10 reps, resting 2-3 minutes between sets
  • Hip Thrust: 3 sets of 10-15 reps, resting 1-2 minutes between sets

Hip Hinge Workout 2 (Intermediate to Advanced)

  • Staggered Stance RDL: 3 sets of 15 reps, resting 30 seconds between sets
  • Deadlift: 3 sets of 5-10 reps, resting 2-3 minutes between sets
  • Hip Thrust: 3 sets of 10-15 reps, resting 1-2 minutes between sets

About The Author

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.