By VAHVA Fitness on November 29, 2019
Can you hold this for just 90 seconds? Test your hip mobility with this one simple exercise...
When it comes to hip mobility, a lot of people can twist their legs in all kinds of ways but very few have good levels of actual active mobility in their hips.
And truth be told, most people have done zero mobility work for their hips even if they do regular exercise or go to the gym.
It's common for fitness enthusiasts to train every muscle in their arms and upper body but when it comes to legs, very few know how to train the legs properly.
Doing heavy back squats and heavy deadlifts once a week is definitely not enough for healthy, strong and structurally balanced legs.
One area of the lower body that is often neglected is the adductors. Adductors are the muscles on the inside of thighs that "close" the hip and also assist in hip flexion. These are also called the inner thigh muscles.
The main reason for lack of mobility whether it's upper body or the lower body, is always the fact that muscles lack strength in their natural range of motion.
It's not the lack of flexibility but the lack of strength that is causing the problems (flexibility is a form of strength). Neglecting the adductors may lead to knee and hip problems, poor performance and tight hips.
Some big lifts such as the back squat (especially when you squat all the way down) do train the adductors but poorly with a small range of motion and short time under tension.
Moreover, different adductor muscles are activated and worked based on the angle of your hip (adduction and transverse adduction) which means there doesn't exist a single exercise to cover it all.
ANY muscle needs to be thoroughly trained to reach the muscle's full development. In theory, a back squat or a deadlift activates most muscles of the lower body but in practice they train mostly the prime movers well.
Training your inner thighs will lead to more agile performance, will increase your strength and make your lateral movement a lot faster. It can also alleviate or fix knee and hip pain if the muscles are weak and aren't working properly in many movement patterns.
A lot of people may think that this is only for endurance but 90 seconds is still in the realm of general strength training.
30 seconds is often considered ideal for strength, 60 ideal for muscle growth. In reality, they all develop strength. Especially the 90 seconds hold.
Long isometric holds ensure you are properly activating the correct muscles and that the muscles are activated under resistance for sufficient amount of time (time under tension).
The reason why many big compound lifts are poor for targeting and developing the structure of the body is because most people do the repetitions quite fast with the help of unrelated body mechanics.
Although heavy and explosive repetitions may look cool, they mostly train the prime movers, the big muscle groups of the body and barely train the less dominant muscles (or the smaller muscles) with optimal time under tension and range of motion.
To truly develop the structure of the body and dig deep into the body, you need slow controlled repetitions and controlled isometric holds like this.
Surprisingly, most people will not be able to hold this for even 15 seconds with straight legs. This indicates weakness and lack of mobility in the quadriceps.
Even with bent legs, this exercise will feel strongly in various parts of the hips. Although this exercise is primarily for developing the adductors, many also feel the exercise in their hip flexors (upper thighs) or side glutes (lateral glutes).
Core is another area that is heavily targeted in this exercise because the abs stabilize the spine and prevent your back from arching. Expect your inner and outer abdominals to get stronger (and make your entire core look better in the mirror).
The rotator muscles can also cramp because hip rotation is an area that is often neglected. For a lot of people, this exercise is the first exercise they have ever done to train the rotation of their hip.
Either way, feeling strong sensations in any part of the body is likely a sign of weakness . Do not despair, holding this exercise can help although it alone isn't sufficient (there isn't 1 exercise for everything no matter what some people may try to tell you).
This exercise can also be incredibly uncomfortable to do at first. In this case, it's better to do different exercises for the hips and then come back to baby legs once the hips and legs have become more mobile.
In addition to this exercise we recommend checking out the adductor plank. It is also quite advanced though:
If you want complete structural training, check out Athlete 20XX. It starts from the very basics and covers every muscle of your lower body, including the adductors. The initial exercises (Phase 1) are just way easier and more comfortable than this one.
Athlete 20XX is perfect for beginners to start but eventually it gets as advanced as any program can ever get.
Why does the structure matter? Because it will eventually catch up with you. You may be fine doing bad training for several years but then one problem after another just starts to appear.
This is the most common way to experience this: people train like maniacs for a few years and get good results without experiencing serious injuries.
Then, suddenly they hit a plateau that they cannot bust through and they start wondering if they "hit their genetic limit". Eventually their back, hips, shoulders, knees or elbows start to hurt and making progress becomes something you wish from the gods.
It doesn't have to be this way. In fact, once we learned how to target the structure and develop the body properly, we threw away luck. We threw away wishing.
The results became methodological and we haven't had a plateau for nearly 5 years. Every WEEK we continue to make progress.
Eventually the tortoise beats the hare.
Moreover, we are not just about injury prevention. This kind of training produces great results even in athletic performance over the long haul.
The baby legs exercise is one of the 6 mobility drills we teach in our 100% FREE mobility class A Day of Mobility. You can learn more about it here.
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