Lower Body Strength

Hip Extension Activation Sequence #1

Watch the following video with the SOUND ON for verbal instruction.

Movement #1: Supine Twerk x 5 - 10 each side

  • Lie on your back with a neutral spine. This means that your bra-line area will be in contact with the floor and you will have a slight arch of your lower back away from the floor

  • Can you engage one butt cheek at a time without engaging the muscles on the front of your thighs?

  • Perform for 10 - 20 total reps before moving on to Movement #2.

Movement #2: Prone Twerk x 5 - 10 reps each side

  • Lie on your belly with a neutral spine. This means that the front of your ribcage will be tucked into your body and your pubic bone will be pressing into the floor.

  • Can you engage one butt muscle at a time WITHOUT strongly engaging the muscles on the front of your thighs?

  • This might be much harder for you than doing it while lying on your back.

Movement #3: Prone Thigh Lifts (Open Chain Hip Extension) x 5 - 10 each side

  • Use your butt muscle to lift your thigh bone off the floor.

  • The focus is lifting your thigh bone away from the floor NOT lifting your knee or foot off the floor. Your knee and foot might come off the floor, but only because they are connected to the movement of your thighbone.

  • Keep your pubic bone pressing straight into the floor as you lift your thighs.

Movement #4: Quadruped Thigh Lifts x 5 - 10 each side

  • Keep your toes on the floor as you slide your leg back.

  • Once you are in the extended position, use your butt muscle to attempt to pull your thigh up away from the floor and toward the sky. Your foot will lift off the floor because it is connected to your thighbone.

  • Keep a neutral spine during this entire exercise. As you lift your thigh, attempt to press your pubic bone toward the floor.

  • DO NOT backbend. DO NOT sag in your shoulders.

Movement #4: Quadruped Hip Extension PAILS + RAILS Contractions

  • Set up yoga blocks or some other form of bolster at the height where you can lift your thigh back WITHOUT bending through your spine.

  • Press strongly down into the bolster with your knee and hold this contraction strongly for 20 seconds.

  • Use your butt muscle to float your knee away from the bolsters. DO NOT move through your spine. Hold for 20 seconds.

  • Repeat for a total of 3 - 5 rounds before moving onto the other side.

Movement #5: Hip Bridge

Hip Bridge

Watch the following video with the SOUND ON for verbal instruction.

This is NOT a backbend exercise like the bridge sometimes taught in yoga classes, but rather a neutral spine bridge intended to strengthen the muscles of your butt and the backs of your thighs. This is a great exercise to teach and master the hip extension movement pattern.


Place your feet hip width apart with your toes pointing directly forward.

If you have one, place a yoga block between your knees and give it a gentle squeeze with your inner thigh muscles.

Set up with the neutral curves of your spine in tack. This means your mid-back (bra-line area) will be in contact with the ground, your lower back will be slightly arched away from the floor, and your chin and forehead will be level.

Without moving your spine at all, simply engage your butt muscles. DO NOT tuck your tailbone. Do not make a movement yet, just feel your butt engage.

Maintain the neutral curves of your spine as you press your feet into the floor and use your butt to lift your hips to the sky.

Consciously engage your butt muscles and keep pressing your feet into the floor.

As always, keep your face relaxed and breathe easily through your nose.


Once you have mastered the Hip Bridge, hold the top position for up to 30 seconds while isometrically contracting your hamstring and buttock muscles. Work up to 3 sets of 30 second holds.

Once you have mastered 3 sets of 30 second holds, progress to the Single Foot Hip Bridge, Alternating Single Foot, Hip Bridge March, Hip Thrust, Hip Thrust March, Single Leg Hip Thrust.

Can you understand and feel how this exercise informs your Deadlift, Squat and Lunging exercises?

Vertical Shin Squat

Watch the following video with the SOUND ON for verbal instruction.

This exercise teaches how to use your hips (as opposed to your knees) as the main engine for your squats.

Great for people who are new to strength training, recovering from knee surgery, with osteoarthritis or other knee injuries, with osteoporosis of the hip and and low back.

Once you master this movement, you can practice it every time you sit down and stand up from a chair, your bed or the toilet.

How To Do a Vertical Shin Squat:

Sit at the edge of chair or bench with your feet wider than your pelvis and your knees stacked over your ankles.

Your shin bones should be perpendicular with the floor.

Without allowing your knees to shift forward, shift your butt back and lean your torso slightly forward.

Press your feet strongly into the floor and stand up.

DO NOT let your knees move forward! Keep your shin bones perpendicular with the floor.

To return to the sitting position, sit your hips back and slowly lower yourself to the chair.

DO NOT let your toes lift off the floor as you sit back. Keep your feet strongly anchored into the ground.

As you get stronger, practice simply tapping your tush on the chair as opposed to sitting all the way down.