Similarly, when in a dominant position, such as the side control and mount, the fundamental technique requires maintaining heavy hips, applying pressure to follow through opponent’s movements. Proving the importance of the hips, this is also the key reason why students are instructed to block the hips of their opponent by framing and posting the foot or knee when defending a pass. Aside from that, our hips give us the driving power we need when initiating and finishing takedowns, submissions, and sweeps.
The hip muscles are responsible for movements such as abduction and adduction (movements away from and towards the centreline of the body), internal and external rotation (rotation towards and away from the body), and extension and flexion (straightening and bending of joints).
Our hip muscles must also be mobile and strong to provide better stability in the core and pelvis. A strong pelvis will act as a stable foundation during lower body movements such as walking, running, and jumping. During sports activities, the hip transports power through the upper and lower body, and without the stability, it provides with the core, the transfer of energy will be disoriented. Most people often experience pain in their hips daily because of their extensive usage. It is also vital to work the surrounding muscles, such as the core, hamstrings, quads, and glutes, to prevent weakness, instability, and imbalances.
Today, Evolve Daily shares 8 hip exercises that will significantly benefit your game in BJJ.
1) Kettlebell Swing
Kettlebells enhance explosive movements, which is excellent for grapplers when bridging or executing a takedown. The kettlebell swing is a basic and popular exercise in building power and endurance. This hip-extension movement works the hips and other muscles in the core and posterior chain greatly. It can be performed in small spaces and is not time-consuming.
2) Barbell Hip Thrust
This exercise is similar to the bridging motion in BJJ. The barbell hip thrust is to be incorporated into the strength and conditioning programs of grapplers, as it significantly strengthens the hips. It focuses on enhancing the driving and bridging power that comes from the hips, which BJJ athletes will benefit greatly.
3) Box Squat
The box squat is one of the best exercises to build explosive power that comes from the hips. Performing the box squat translates to hip strength and power when performing explosive throws and takedowns. Ideally, this exercise should be done with a slow tempo downward and an explosive force when getting back up.
4) Single-Legged Deadlifts
The deadlift is an excellent exercise for overall strength in grappling. This exercise improves the power that comes from the hips because it drives the hip forward during the lockout. The deadlift is a great exercise because it can be done in different variations and any type of free weight. Performing single-legged deadlifts such as the Romanian deadlift is a great way to focus on a muscle imbalance in the hip area, which grapplers typically experience, as they unconsciously perform most movements with their dominant side.
5) Butterfly Stretch
The butterfly stretch is a seated hip stretch that targets the hips, inner thigh, and groin. It improves the mobility and flexibility of the hips, which is ideal if you use a lot of open guards in BJJ, especially the butterfly guard. The butterfly stretch can be performed before or after training sessions to help loosen up the tensed-up muscles in the surrounding area.
6) Hip Flexor Stretch
The group of muscles located at the top of your pelvis is called the hip flexors. They play an essential part in the movements of our lower body. As important as they are, living a sedentary lifestyle or sitting for long periods weakens the hip flexors. Performing the hip flexor stretch will awaken the hip flexor muscles, which are helpful when executing takedowns. This stretch is similar to the position when shooting for a takedown and should be rightly performed before training sessions.
7) Shin Box
The shin box works the external and internal rotation of the hips, which helps improve mobility. This is a great stretch to incorporate into a warm-up, especially if you plan on working with your positional control, as this stretch’s movement is similar to the execution of an S mount.
8) Pancake Stretch
The pancake stretch is commonly used by gymnasts. It improves the overall hip mobility in BJJ and benefits grapplers greatly because of the extensive use of active guard, guard retention, and other inversions in BJJ. The stretch also helps ensure flexibility within the hips when performing quick movements, preventing the risks such as having an inflamed hip when fighting.
With martial arts constantly evolving, the demand to perform specific moves require certain levels of strength and mobility from our bodies. Specifically, BJJ where some moves and submissions require significant hip strength and mobility to maintain and execute specific moves.
Performing hip mobility drills before and or after training sessions will help prevent unnecessary injuries. It is important to incorporate hip-strengthening exercises in our strength and conditioning program to help us become more functional grapplers. Above all, having a healthy hip will let us enjoy life freely and refrain us from having unwanted pains in the lower back and lower body joints!
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