Q&A: How to engage the hips more while pedaling.

“I have a question about the actual riding application of the hip-snap movement that is being learned via the deadlift variations in your program. I can certainly see how that movement is used to clear obstacles, thrust through deadspots in technical climbs, etc.

But I also hear you talking about a more general “hip forward” or “hip-extended” approach to pedaling the bike. I am trying to visualize this — are you talking about the somewhat extreme posture BMXers use when leaving the gate? Or are you talking about just a slight change of how I should “visualize” my position when standing?

Please help me tie this all together — so I’m not self-teaching some weird postures or movements as a result of mis-understanding your approach.”

John Joyce



I guess that the easiest way to explain it is that even when you do not achieve full hip extension, like you would see with a gate start, you can still engage the hips more than you usually do when pedaling.

When I cue you on the single leg deadlift to push through your heel and squeeze your butt cheek on the way up I get you to engage the hips more. You can do that same movement without following those cues which will get you up but will not engage the hips as much.

When you are pedaling you can do the same thing. If you think about engaging your glutes you will get more hip engagement. Even though you still will stay in your seated or standing pedaling position this mental trick will still get you engaging more muscles.

Try it next time out on the bike – don’t change your position, just think about driving with the glutes more. You will notice an immediate increase in pedaling power and leg drive. The stronger you are with hip extension the more drive you will be able to get out of the hips no matter what position you are in on your bike.

Hope this helps, let me know if you run into any more questions…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

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  1. mb says:

    James – at what part of the pedal stroke should you focus on glute engagement? Does it change if you’re seated vs. standing, flats vs. clipped in?

    Reply • August 18 at 9:46 am
    • bikejames says:

      You should just drive your leg down and squeeze your glute on each pedal stroke. Your body will engage the hips more when and where they are needed; I wouldn’t overthink it too much. The hips should be helping the entire time although they help more towards the bottom of the stroke than they do at the top.

      Reply • August 19 at 7:56 pm

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