Simultaneous Hip Extension and Hip Flexion: Sprint Specific Training

Movements such as walking, running, sprinting, kicking, jumping off one leg, cycling, skating, and freestyle swimming involve simultaneous hip extension and hip flexion. In each of these activities, when one hip is extending the other is flexing. Many strength training gurus have written about methods to train this coordinated movement pattern. For example, Mel Siff discussed some of Yuri Verkhoshansky’s methods in Supertraining, Tudor Bompa discussed some methods in Total Training for Young Champions, and Yuri Verkhoshansky discussed some of his methods in Special Strength Training.

I believe that Verkhoshansky is many years ahead of his time, as was my favorite writer Mel Siff. Here is a picture I drew that illustrates Verkhoshansky’s methods (I apologize for the poor quality of the picture):

I’ve been experimenting with different versions of these movements and have come up with two of what I believe to be the most practical methods of employing this concept. One version is performed with vertical loading, while the other is performed with horizontal loading, so between the two you strengthen the stretched and contracted positions of flexion and extension due to axial vs. anteroposterior loading. Here is a video that demonstrates my two methods:

I’m still trying to decide if it’s worth combining the two strengthening methods (hip extension and hip flexion) together or just training each quality separately, but I thought that I’d write a blog so other trainers could start experimenting with these methods. You can use ankle weights, cables, bands, or simply tie an object around the foot for this purpose. I like ankle weights. A ten pound ankle weight is too easy for me on these movements, but if I wear two of them at the same time (20 lbs) it works really well. One drawback is that you need to be high up in order to do this right (even higher than in my video).

9 Comments

  • matibu says:

    Hi Bret, talking about single leg excercises, have you ever tried a single leg hip thrust with the non working leg supported on a bench. Its like a bulgarian split squat (rear foot elevated split squat in Mike Boyle s words).
    I came up with this variation today as I was doing single leg hip thrust with a barbell and I couldnt even the bar on the hips. With the non working leg support I could even the hips and still get a good glute work.
    As the go to guy for some glute strengthening excercises I would like to check with you what do you think of this variation, you can maybe check it with your EMG equipment.
    Cheers Bret

  • Matibu,

    I have not tried or tested that. Great idea! Do you put the non-working leg on the bench and the working leg on the ground? I’m always amazed at all the things I never considered.

    Bret

  • matibu says:

    Thats right bret, I put the non-working leg on a bench the same hight as the one that supports the trunk. I tried using a lower box, but that allowed to push with the non-working leg so I changed it.
    Give it a try let me know
    MATIBU

  • frey says:

    yo bret. Check out PowerCranks at http://www.powercranks.com. They seem to be a tool that could be useful training the hip movement you’re blogging about here.

    • frey-

      I took a look at the product and while I believe it may be useful for endurance athletes (who would benefit two-fold – from less impact forces as well as increased strength), I don’t believe it would be very useful for short-distance sprinters simply because it doesn’t strengthen the hips through a full range-of-motion. Elite 100 meter sprinters are moving their hips from full extension all the way up into full flexion so all ranges need to be as strong and powerful as possible in my opinion. At any rate, thanks for the link, I appreciate it.

      -Bret

  • RJ says:

    Hey Bret,
    I think the work you are doing on this site is great. I have just recently started training for glute activation and started doing the glute exercises you have described in other articles.
    When I get a good pump in my glutes, I definitely notice it during sprints. However I am currently on a quest to improve my vertical, from both 1 leg and 2 leg take off. I was wondering if you could write about the importance of glute exercises involved in the vertical jump. The exercises above seem to activate the glute during vertical movements so I am eager to go try them asap.
    Thanks,
    -RJ

  • Tyciol says:

    I wonder if this same concept could apply to arm training, like pulling one’s body up holding a ring with 1 hand while holding a dumbbell in the other and pressing it overhead.

  • Jimmy says:

    Bieber in the background…really???

  • Manuel87 says:

    The magic/reason for such simultaneous exercises is the effect in specific core strength!
    You can’t develop this specific core strength if you separate them.
    But i don’t your variation. I think it’s not specific enough.
    We have to mimic similar force direction, muscle length, resistance type and contracion velocity. This isn’t easy to duplicate but it’s possible.
    The most important postion for strenght is near the turnaround of each limb (at their muscle length in the cycle)

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