Think you need to loosen up those hips? If you’re not acutely injured, but you’re limited by hip tightness or your technique on the big lifts is hampered by hip tightness, then here’s your answer.
The aim of this self-test is to stand in space and imagine you’re in the center of a giant clock face projected onto the floor. Lunge to every number on the clock with both legs.
The aim is to keep the pelvis as close to your forward-facing direction as possible. This way it forces your hip joints to do the lion’s share of the work and will naturally identify where you have muscular limitations affecting your range of motion.
At 3 and 9 o’clock, moving completely sideways, there’s a little extra too. On these numbers you need to test side lunges and Cossack lunges, as well as curtsy lunges.
The difference between a side lunge and a Cossack lunge is that in the side lunge (the first lunge I do to 3 and 9 o’clock in the video) you keep the trailing foot and knee facing forward.
In the Cossack lunge, you let the trailing hip externally rotate. The knee and foot point upward towards the sky. They affect the hip and adductor group differently so you need to test both. Most people will be better at one than the other because one way of moving will have become their natural habit.
The aim of this self-test is to find which of the 26 lunge variations are really hard for you – where you lose balance, where you feel a big stretch, or where you can’t keep your pelvis facing forwards. For you, those are the ones you need.
Do them in front of a mirror and get good at them. Force your hips to do the work and force the limiting muscles to stretch while they’re also working.
Doing this will address your hip tightness in the specific ranges you need. It will strengthen your hips in that range too, which could be the underlying reason for the imbalance in the first place.
As you improve your limited range of movement, you’ll improve stability too. You wouldn’t be able to achieve the same thing with just static stretching.
Periodically – maybe every eight weeks – retest the full clock face to check that all is well and, if needed, spend the next period of time drilling whatever lunge variation tests poorly again. This is necessary because everything is in flux as your program and lifestyle change.