Hip Involvement In Certain Lifts And What It Means For You

A picture of a female athlete dragging a sled. She is grabbing handles behind her back to drag the sled. She’s dragging it in a parking lot outside of a gym.

I’m getting right into this post because I want to get back to research.

I recently read a pretty awesome article from the Strength and Conditioning Journal and have been doing a lot of thinking since.

Here are some of the key points/highlights:

What The Research Says:

The article details 5 studies. Combined, the 5 studies looked at squats, lunges, conventional and Trap bar deadlifts, jumping, and sprinting.

Each study found that there is an increased contribution of hip extension when compared to knee extension as the intensity increased.

To summarize- your hips are responsible for more force production as exercises get heavier.

“For athletes training with exercises that closely resemble their competitive activities (sprinters sprinting or powerlifters squatting), it is likely that submaximal performances will involve significantly lower hip-to-knee extension moments.”

In order to address this deficit, here’s what they suggest:

1. Add in additional work for the hip extensors.

If you’re looking to do this, read this post- A New Approach To Developing Your Hips.

It helps to explain which exercises will have a better carryover for you based on your specific needs.

Also, be sure to check out this post- Glute Strengthening For Better Performance.

2. Emphasize more maximal work and de-emphasize submaximal work.

The authors caution that this should be done “to the degree that is possible within the periodized program that the coach considers necessary for the long-term development of the athlete.”

Basically- don’t start maxing out all the time.

One way I’m getting around this is with heavy Prowler pushes and sled drags.

When loaded appropriately you can reach near maximal efforts, but these two exercises won’t leave you “burnt out” like heavy squats and deadlifts do.

At least, that’s what I’ve found so far.

3. Perform exercises using loads that maximize power output at the hips.

For example, the authors cite a study that found Jump Squats at 42% to produce maximal power at the hips.

Make sure the percentages are specific for maximizing power at the hips, not just maximizing power output in general.

“Future research should be conducted to determine the optimal loads for hip extension power with other explosive lifts, and to determine whether training at these loads is more beneficial for performance than training at optimal loads for system power.”

Paper Referenced

Beardsley, C., B. Contreras. The increasing role of the hip extensor musculature with heavier compound lower-body movements and more explosive sport actions. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 0(0), 1-7. 2014.

Cool Chart Made By My Brother:

Here’s a chart summarizing the research studies reviewed by Bret and Chris. The ratios are hip to knee torque.

A chart made by Chris White. This chart details…

Here’s a pic from a couple years ago after a fight I had in Plymouth, Mass. Chris is standing on the left.

A photo of Dickie and Chris White along with 6 other people at a restaurant after one of Dickie’s fights in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

…I know, you’d never guess we were brothers.

What This All Means:

Remember when I started this post saying I wanted to get back to research.

Well, it’s because I want to relearn how to calculate moment arms.

Ultimately I want to be able to draw some stronger conclusions on what this info means specifically for shooting a leg attack.

Until then, here’s what I suggest:

1. Slow drilling is essential to get technique down.

But, once you are comfortable with it, get in some hard shots too.

Remember- this summary of research suggests that performing leg attacks at maximal or near-maximal effort will have a different hip-to-knee ratio.

Therefore, to ensure a better carryover to the mat, some hard, near-maximal shots are important.

To keep things safe (so you’re not slamming your partner on each takedown), consider performing half of the shots without finishes.

2. Follow the suggestions the authors make that I expand on above.


As always, if you have questions leave a comment below or email me at dickie@wrestler-power.com.

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion

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8 Comments. Leave new

  • For jump squats, is 42% of what? A 1 rep max of normal squats?

  • Hey dickie based on the chart which exercise should I be doing most? I’m confused as if the lunges are better or if it’s dead lifts or maybe trap bar?

    • Well, Steve, that really depends. In one side of the coin you could argue that lunges are the best option because they produce the highest hip to knee ratio. While the other argument would be in favor of either sprinting or jumping under the assumption that a leg attack would produce similar hip to knee ratios in terms of force production. The reasoning behind this is that when you shoot, you’re not working against external resistance (like you are when you deadlift, squat, lunge). I unfortunately don’t have an exact answer at this time. However, I can say that based on what I’m finding with the tendo unit, I would lean more toward jumping and sprinting having a better carryover to speed and power production when taking a leg attack. Finishing is a shot once you’re in is a different story, but it’s also something I’m not currently “researching”.

      Does this help? Thanks for the comment man, talk to you soon.

      • Yes this helps a lot. When it comes to finishing a shot, are you still big on hip extensions exercises, rows and pullups in regards to finishing a shot once you’re in?

        • Yeah, more rows than pullups/chinups though. I’ve added a lot of static holds too, in order to better simulate the specific strength needed to hold the leg(s) when looking to drive through.

          In all honesty, I haven’t programmed recently specifically for finishing shots, I’ve really been focused on developing speed and power from the get go under the assumption that that will carryover to a higher finishing rate.

          Here are some posts on pulling exercises and some hip exercises that you may find useful:

          Quick Adjustment For More Takedowns

          Exercises To Finish Single Legs

          Exercises To Finish Single Legs Part 2

          Are these what you mean by pulling and hip extension exercises to help finish?

  • Yes these are great exactly what I meant. I’ll start trying to put these all together.


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