The Hip Hinge Versus The Squat
Are you hip hinging or are you squatting? And more importantly, why should you even care since a squat contains a hip hinge? A push-up contains a plank but they’re two completely different exercises, so, bear with me while I explain the reasons you should care.
The reasons to know the clear definition of an exercise or the rules so to speak is to
know when one or the other is performed correctly
know when one turns into the other
know exactly when to provide corrective cues
know what corrective cues to provide
speak one language amongst us trainers
The following information is extremely important to be able to clearly define when a movement is a hip hinge or a squat. After seeing a lot of confusion and misjudgments I started looking for a clear definition on either of the two, ie. when exactly does one turn into the other?
I found that there is no clear definition and even on highly respected websites there are references to a movement as a hip hinge while it is clearly a squat.
To get across a clear hip hinge and squat definition let’s go through each attribute step-by-step and if at any stage those definitions are wrong, then this attempt at providing a clear definition for each of the exercises failed.
If however, you find that each broken down attribute is clearly and correctly defined, we can both agree that this is then the clear definition for a hip hinge and a squat.
The Hip Hinge
Hip = hip joint.
Hinge = a movable joint which connects the upper to the lower body.
Hip hinge = movement of the hip joint.
A true hip hinge equals flexion followed by extension in the hip joint only (one joint).
Most people, on the other hand, will also call hinging in both the hips and knees (two joints) a hip hinge. Fine.
The knees bend to create a counterbalance (especially with the conventional deadlift) or to make the movement easier. Easier as in you just added another muscle group to perform the action (knee flexors and extensors). But a true hip hinge will always remain a stiff-legged hip hinge.
5) The hip hinge movement involves either 1 or 2 joints, the hips always, and the knees being a variable. The shoulders lower and hips stay high or move back and slightly down when the second joint is involved.
The squat movement always involves 3 joints, the ankles, knees, and hips. Shoulders stay high and the hips lower.
A squat contains a hip hinge but a hip hinge does not contain a squat, just like a push-up contains a plank but a plank does not contain a push-up. These are called exercise variations, the squat is built upon the hip hinge like the push-up is built upon the plank.
The knees stay above the ankles with a hip hinge—you’ll recognize this cue from the conventional kettlebell swing instructions (hip hinge style) or conventional deadlifts—so that no ankle dorsiflexion is created because when the knees move forward it becomes a squat!.
A squat is further defined by depth, dip, quarter, half, full.... there should, of course, be some leeway as a complete static ankle is near to impossible. Even when wanting to keep it completely static there will be 0.5 to 2% dorsiflexion which in turn will be cause for the knees coming forward.