Do you have trouble getting into a deep squat? Do your knees and lower back hurt after workouts? While there may be a few reasons why this is happening, one of the more common issues is lack of hip mobility and flexibility, which can be attacked right now with the Russian Baby Maker Stretch.
So what is the Russian Baby Maker? The Russian Baby Maker is a stretch that works to increase flexibility of the inner groin muscles and help reinforce a strong squat. The stretch starts by kneeling on all fours with your knees outside of shoulder-width distance, and then using your arms, pushing your hips toward your ankles.
In this article, we will discuss the proper technique to perform the Russian Baby Maker correctly, provide two useful video demonstrations, go more in depth regarding the benefits of each, and even offer supplemental hip flexibility and mobility exercises that you can also use in your training and stretching routines.
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How To Do The Russian Baby Maker – Everything You Need to Know
The Russian Baby Maker stretch is widely performed in functional fitness gyms and serious training facilities around the globe. Olympic weightlifters to runners will perform this movement to warm up the hips, inner groin muscles, and knees for a strenuous workout.
1. Start by placing your feet hip width apart, keeping the heels fully planted on the ground at all times.
2. Sit down into a squat, focusing on keeping the heels down.
3. As you sit in the squat, place your elbows deep inside the thighs near the groin.
4. With the elbows deep inside the groin, press your elbows outwards to place a deep stretch on the groin muscles that are closest to the pelvis. Many individuals will simply push the knees out, however this is not the most effective way to stretch the hips (see both video demos below).
5. You may or may not be able to maintain a flat back, which in this case is not critical to the movement as you are focusing on a deep groin stretch.
6. If, however, you can start to push the elbows into the inner thighs, relax the hips, and start to extend the spine to flatten the back and bring the chest up, the more this movement will translate to a squatting movement.
7. You can also make this a more dynamic stretch by going in and out of the deep stretch position, as performed in the video demons below.
Below are two slightly different ways to perform the Russian Baby Maker stretch. The first, and arguably the correct way, focuses on the deep hip stretch , whereas the other way is a less intense “stretch” to warm up the ankles, knees, and hip for the squat.
You can use both in a given program, however just note that the original was most likely done in the aggressive manner, which is demonstrated below.
THE AGGRESSIVE (AND CORRECT) HIP OPENER WAY
According to Greg Everett, Olympic weightlifting coach and Founder of Catalyst Athletics, the Russian Baby Maker is correctly done by sitting in a squat with the elbows pressed deeping into the inner groin/thigh (rather than lightly on the knees). The purpose of this stretch is to stretch the muscles of the inner groin open at where they connect the pelvis, rather than simply pushing the knees out.
THE “OTHER” WAY
This is the more common way the Russian Baby Maker is performed, which in fact may or may not actually be the correct way to perform it. In the video below, you can see how the individual sits deep into a squat and keeps the knees out, while then pushing the hips upwards (hamstrings stretch) and downwards into a deep squat. This is a great way to increase multi-joint mobility (ankles, knees, and hips), but may or may not truly be the correct way to perform the Russain Baby Maker (according to the video above).
WHICH WAY SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?
If you are looking for a basic and general squat warm up exercise, the “other” way may be just fine for you. If however you are looking to increase flexibility of the deep groin muscles and increase hip mobility specifically, the more aggressive way may be exactly what you need.
I recommend experimenting with both, and seeing which one you like more, with the understanding you can always perform both ways. Just note, that if you are performing the “other” way, some individuals will say that you are not performing the Russian Baby Maker stretch, but rather an entirely different stretch.
WHEN SHOULD YOU DO THIS STRETCH?
Like all stretching, your goal dictates the intensity and time in which you should perform this strength.
If you are looking to warm up the hips and body for a workout, such as prior to squat or the olympic lifts in which you need hip mobility, you can perform these in warm-ups using light stretching intensities.
The goal here is to not over-stretch them muscle, but rather to place a light stretch on the muscle to restore range of motion.
If you are looking to gain flexibility, you want to make sure your muscles are fully warmed up already to minimize injury risks. Your stretching intensity would be greater than in the warm ups, with the focus on placing a deep stretch on the muscle, yet still within a manageable amount of discomfort.
You should never over stretch a muscle proper to exercises as this can decrease stability and increase injury risks.
Lastly, if you have soreness or straining the muscle after a stretching session, you now know that you were too aggressive in the intensity of the stretch, or simply performed the stretch for too long.
3 Benefits Of Doing the Russian Baby Maker Stretch
Below are three main benefits of performing Russian Baby Maker Stretch. You can do this either way, however the more aggressive way will attack hip mobility to a greater extent.
1. IMPROVE HIP MOBILITY
The Russian Baby Maker Stretch increases hip mobility via increasing flexibility of the inner groin muscles (adductors). If your adductors are restrictive, you will not be able to properly externally rotate the femur at the hip joint, which could lead to knee pain and tightness of the entire hip complex.
2. INCREASE RANGE OF MOTION IN DEEP SQUATS
The Russian Baby Maker Stretch can be done to increase hip, knee, and ankle mobility necessary for deep squats. By performing these in the dynamic manner (the “other” way) you also can increase hamstring flexibility; all of which can contribute to stiffness and lack of depth in a squat.
3. DECREASE KNEE PAIN AND STIFFNESS
Tight hips and adductors can cause tension above and below the hips, often resulting in lower back pain, rounding of the lumbar spine in the squat, and knee pain. If you find you have tight hips, and also suffer from knee pain and lower back stiffness, there is a strong chance that you will benefit from performing this stretch.
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Do You Have Tight Hips? Try These Stretches Too!
Tight hips can create a slew of issues like knee pain, lower back stiffness, and decreased performance and mobility. Here are a few more hip and groin stretches that you can use to improve mobility and mix into your training!
90/90 HIP MOBILITY ROUTINE
The 90/90 hip mobility exercise is a movement that works to increase functional range of motion and control. Unlike most stretches, this routine also strengthens and adds stability to the deeper muscles of the hip to not only increase mobility but also enhance performance and injury prevention.
Static stretching may help you increase flexibility, but you must also incorporate dynamic movements like the fire hydrant to increase mobility and help develop the muscles of the hip so that they can become stronger to support the new range of motion you have attained. This is also a great drill for increasing glute activation and hip mobility (hip circumduction).
The Cossack squat is one of the most powerful hip, knee, and ankle mobility exercises out there. You can do this as a stretch, as a movement, or as an exercise that incorporates external loading to increase deep hip strength and pelvic stability.
Looking for a hip, knee, and ankle warm up routine to do before your next squat session? Try this 10-minute hip/knee/ankle mobility and squat warm-up routine before you squat, or on a recovery day to improve mobility and decrease muscle stiffness!
The Russian Baby Maker, as well as the other hip stretches listed above, can all be used within a training program to increase hip mobility, increase squat performance, and decrease knee pain and lower back stiffness. It is important to remember that when stretching, you should ease into positions, and not overstretch a muscle. Typically, when warming up you want to stretch the muscle to the point of a light stretch, nothing more. Following training where the muscles are warm and have been worked adequately, you can push your end range of motion more aggressively to try to increase range of motion for following training sessions.
About The Author
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.
Mike has published over 500+ articles on premiere online media outlets like BarBend, BreakingMuscle, Men’s Health, and FitBob, covering his expertise of strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, fitness, and sports nutrition. In Mike’s spare time, he enjoys the outdoors, traveling the world, coaching, whiskey and craft beer, and spending time with his family and friends.