Fixing your “hip hinge” for better body position on the bike

The “hip hinge” movement pattern is your basic ability to move from your hips and not your lower back. It is a vital movement on your mountain bike because without it you simply can not achieve good, balanced body position. Being able to get your butt back and chest down while maintaining a long spine improves your balance, pedaling power and reduces the amount of stress on your lower back and shoulders, however most riders have trouble with their hip hinge and so struggle with applying this concept to the trail.

On page 5 of this PDF handout covering the Functional Movement Screen is the Active Straight Leg Raise screen and if you struggle with it (or more simply struggle to touch your toes) then these exercises here will help you fix the movement issue. Once you have improved your hip hinge you will find yourself able to more easily achieve strong, balanced body position on the bike.

-James Wilson-

The Ultimate MTB Workout Program

The Ultimate MTB Workout ProgramThis workout program is designed with one simple purpose – to be the best mountain bike training program on the planet. When you are ready to take your training program to the highest level possible then you can’t do better than this workout program. Based on my years of working with some of the best riders on the planet, this truly is the Ultimate MTB Workout Program.
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  1. Mike says:

    Hey James,

    Really Excellent video! Even though I know the exercises you were doing and frequently do them with clients I thought your video and description was smooth, informative, relaxed and easy to understand. Even knowing how to instruct these movements I learned a good amount just by your verbal instructions and cues. This to me is the most important aspect of my coaching job in this phase of my career and the more cues I learn and develop, the more people I can help and get through to.

    Great Video!

    Have a great weekend and say hi to Kiele.

    Mike Hanley

    Reply • January 27 at 5:07 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Thanks Mike, appreciate that coming from a coach like you. I’ll Kiele you said hi, have a great weekend as well!

      Reply • January 27 at 5:24 pm
  2. neil says:

    Hia James,
    very interesting your explanation of the crocodile breathing.
    I can definitely feel more air coming in when I practice that on the bike.
    One thing though.
    I’ve been somewhat tensing my ab’s in order to protect the lower back. Remembering back to that Samurai book you recommended where the autor wrote about holding the ab’s pretty much as if ready to be punched in the stomach at any time. Now I’m certainly not as good at that as him, but I do feel that when trying the crocodile breathing that I have to kinda let go of the ab’s.
    I guess I’m doing something wrong for sure, but I wondered if you might have any pointers to allow the abs to protect the lumbar spine but also to allow that diaphragm breathing technique at the same time?
    thanks for changing the way I drive my bike man

    Reply • February 7 at 10:42 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      If you notice on my video I I had Chad send his breath to his lower back and obliques, not his belly button. Belly breathing may be a bit misleading – you need to breath into the belly but don’t just relax the abs and let the belly push out. It is more about sending the breath into the lower back and sides and feeling the sides push out, not the belly button. When you can do that then you can keep tension in the core to protect the spine while belly breathing.

      Another thing to consider is the ability to use tension when and as you need it. When you are sitting down and pedaling to recover for the next hill you don’t have to keep the abs as tight and can allow the belly to move more. When you are charging into a rack garden or up a technical climb you need more tension in the abs and so you will have to keep the abs a bit tighter and rely more on the lateral oblique excursion.

      It takes practice and won’t happen right away. That is why I have my clients start off each training session with 10-15 crocodile breathes before warming up – I can explain it and show them once but they won’t “get it” for a while.

      Hope this helps, glad my info has helped you enjoy riding more.

      Reply • February 7 at 12:03 pm
  3. neil says:

    Hi James
    that sure does help
    it makes sense to keep the “lower belly” tensed, definitely.
    strangely I couldn’t see that earlier today, even though you posted it on Feb 7. weird, I can’t see it on your “FB wall” either my question isn’t there, neither is your answer. that’s the Internet for ya, cooky!
    thanks lots for all the inspiration

    Reply • February 21 at 3:22 pm

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James Wilson