Mobilize and Prep Your Hips for Squatting

*Updated 6/7/18
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Need more hip and low back mobility? Start with Day 1 of our Hip/Low Back Mobility Program for free:

Introduction

Warming up, mobilizing, and preparing your hips before squatting is important to get the right areas mobilized and the right muscles prepared.

Getting your body ready for any big lift is more than just stretching and foam rolling. In this video and post you will learn a 4-step process you can use before your next squatting work out.

The 4 steps are:

1. Rolling out the hip rotators and quads
2. Stretching internal/external hip rotation
3. Prepping the adductors
4. Putting it together in an actual squat

The Routine

5-8 Minutes going through the following:

Roll out the glutes and quads - 15-20 seconds each (lightly)
Hip internal/external rotation stretching - 5-10 reps each leg each way
Lateral lunges - 5 reps each side
Slow and controlled goblet squats - 5 reps with 3 second hold at bottom

Foam Rolling the Hip Rotators and Quads

To foam roll the external hip rotators, set yourself as shown in the image with a foam roller, one leg crossed over the other.

You will be placing pressure on the hip muscles of the leg that is crossed.

Doing this shouldn't be painful. It should feel good. Use the leg that's on the ground and press it firmly into the ground to take some weight off the foam roller if needed.

Spend approximately 15-30 seconds on each hip, rolling back and forth.

To foam roll the quadriceps, set yourself up with a foam roller as shown in the image.

Work from the top of your quad down to the top of your knee cap. It should feel comfortable.

This is an area people typically roll out too aggressively. It doesn't need to hurt to be beneficial.

Use your arms or the free leg to press into the ground to take pressure off the foam roller if it hurts. Spend approximately 15-30 seconds per side.

Hip Internal and External Stretching

Now that we have decreases some muscle tension with foam rolling, we can work on the mobility of the hip joint.

Using the stretch shown in the video and in the photo, we can strategically work on hip joint internal and external rotation.

You should set yourself as shown in the image, with both knees bent at 90 degrees, ankles at 90 degrees, and 90 degrees between your thighs.

Rotate forward and backward as demonstrated in the video. When you rotate and bend over the forward leg, you are working external rotation and hip flexion.

When you rotate backward toward the back leg, you are working hip internal rotation and extension (which is why I recommend in the video to lean backward when going into internal rotation. Stretching internal rotation in flexion is a test for hip joint impingement and not recommended).

Learn more about hip anatomy and the hip joint in this article.

Working on the Adductors

Next, let's get weight bearing and work on the pattern of squatting one side at a time and stretch the adductors.

Using a wide stance to start, perform a lateral lunge to one side, keeping both feet flat on the ground. You should feel a stretch in the inner thigh of the straight leg. This is stretching your adductors.

Some people will feel this on the inside of your knee. One muscle of the adductor group, the gracilis, crosses the knee joint and that might be what you're feeling. As long as it's not painful it is ok.

Work side to side for the prescribed number of reps. Your back should stay flat and not round during these reps.

To learn more about the adductors, you can watch our video on the anatomy of the adductors and also specifically how to stretch them.

Goblet Squat - Putting it Together

To put it all together, perform a goblet squat.

Grab a kettlebell, get your feet into a squat stance, tighten your abdomen, squat down, and hold for 3 seconds. Repeat for several reps.

It's important when you are working on your flexibility and mobility that you work on the exercise you are trying to improve. If you just stretch and mobilize without working on the more complex patterns of lifting, you can do tons of stretching but never change the way you move.

Finishing this series with the squat pattern is important for the changes to stick.

After completing the goblet squats, continue from the beginning of the sequence for the allotted time.

If you want additional ways to prep for the squat, here is another complete back squat warm up.

Summary

Preparing for the squat is more than just performing a few simple stretches. That can work if you already move well. If you already have a competent squat, you may not need all of these drills.

If, however, you need work on your squat, this is a great place to start and incorporate into your squatting days.

One thing not included in this warm up is specific work on the ankles. If you believe you have stiff ankles that are preventing you from squatting well, check out this video on ankle mobilization.

Need more hip and low back mobility? Start with Day 1 of our Hip/Low Back Mobility Program for free:

Other Things You Can Try

If you are still looking for other ways to work on your hips and your squat, you may find these other videos and articles helpful:

1. Full Back Squat Warm Up
2. Better Adductors for Better Squatting
3. Modifying the Squat to Get Rid of Hip Pinching
4. Strengthening Your Hips for Squatting
5. Improving your Squat Mobility

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