Hip Flexors The Most Underdeveloped Muscle Group In Strength Training

Hip Flexors The Most Underdeveloped Muscle Group In Strength Training



Despite their importance to​ a​ wide range of​ athletic and sporting activities, the hip flexors are the most neglected major muscle group in​ strength training. it​ is​ very rare to​ find training programs that include hip flexor exercises. By contrast there is​ usually a​ great deal of​ emphasis on exercises for the leg extensors.

There are some obvious reasons for this comparative neglect. The principal muscles involved in​ hip flexion are the psoas and the iliacus, collectively known as​ the iliopsoas. Because they are relatively deep-seated rather than surface muscles they may have been overlooked by bodybuilders who have traditionally been the major innovators in​ strength training. Secondly, there are no obvious ways to​ adequately exercise them with free weights. Finally, these muscles do not have the obvious functional importance of​ their extensor counterparts. Yet, as​ antagonists, both hip and knee flexors perform a​ vital role in​ controlling the rate of​ descent and ascent in​ leg extension exercises such as​ the squat.

There is​ no corresponding problem of​ underdevelopment with the muscles responsible for knee joint flexion, the hamstring group. Because they cross two joints they are active in​ both leg extension and leg flexion. They act to​ flex the knee joint and also to​ extend the hip joint. Therefore they tend to​ be strengthened by complex leg extension exercises. Also hamstrings can be developed and strengthened through the use of​ the leg curl apparatus.

Strong hip flexors provide an​ advantage in​ a​ wide range of​ sports and athletic activities. in​ sprinting high knee lift is​ associated with increased stride length and therefore considerable attention is​ given to​ exercising the hip flexors. However, they are usually not exercised against resistance and consequently there is​ unlikely to​ be any appreciable strength increase.

Hip flexor strength is​ directly relevant to​ a​ range of​ activities in​ football. Kicking a​ ball is​ a​ complex coordinated action involving simultaneous knee extension and hip flexion, so developing a​ more powerful kick requires exercises applicable to​ these muscle groups. Strong hip flexors can also be very advantageous in​ the tackle situation in​ American football and both rugby union and rugby league where a​ player is​ attempting to​ take further steps forward with an​ opposing player clinging to​ his legs.

In addition those players in​ American football and rugby who have massively developed quadriceps and gluteus muscles are often unable to​ generate rapid knee lift and hence tend to​ shuffle around the field. Having stronger flexors would significantly improve their mobility.

It is​ commonly asserted that marked strength disparity between hip extensors and hip flexors may be a​ contributing factor in​ hamstring injuries in​ footballers. it​ is​ interesting to​ speculate on whether hip extensor/flexor imbalance might also be associated with the relatively high incidence of​ groin injuries.

Other sports where increased iliopsoas strength would appear to​ offer benefits include cycling, rowing and mountain climbing, in​ particular when scaling rock faces.

The problem in​ developing hip flexor strength has been the lack of​ appropriate exercises. Two that have traditionally been used for this muscle group are incline sit-ups and hanging leg raises, but in​ both cases the resistance is​ basically provided by the exerciser's own body weight. as​ a​ consequence these exercises can make only a​ very limited contribution to​ actually strengthening the flexors.

Until now the only weighted resistance equipment employed for this purpose has been the multi-hip type machine. When using this multi-function apparatus for hip flexion the exerciser pushes with the lower thigh against a​ padded roller which swings in​ an​ arc. One difficulty with this apparatus is​ that the position of​ the hip joint is​ not fixed and thus it​ is​ difficult to​ maintain correct form when using heavy weights or​ lifting the thigh above the horizontal.

With the release of​ the MyoQuip HipneeFlex there is​ now a​ machine specifically designed to​ develop and strengthen the leg flexors. it​ exercises both hip and knee flexors simultaneously from full extension to​ full flexion. Because the biomechanical efficiency of​ these joints decreases in​ moving from extension to​ flexion, the mechanism is​ configured to​ provide decreasing resistance throughout the exercise movement and thus appropriate loading to​ both sets of​ flexors.

The absence until now of​ effective techniques for developing the hip flexors means that we do not really know what benefits would flow from their full development. However, given that in​ elite sport comparatively minor performance improvements can translate into contest supremacy, it​ is​ an​ area that offers great potential.




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