As Shakira says, the “hips do not lie.”
I remember seeing her music video for the first time and being absolutely floored at how she could move her hips. I know you men reading could, too.
Not only are her hips mobile, but they’re also powerful and strong.
Yes, I’m comparing Shakira to soccer players.
So why do soccer athletes need to build their hips?
Well, to ignore them would be hindering performance, decreasing speed, and increasing risk of injury.
Ever seen a player jump a several feet off the ground to win a 50/50 ball?
Ever seen a player “break ankles” with their sharp 1-vs-1 jukes against a defender?
Ever seen a player able to put on the brakes at top speed and change direction at a rapid pace?
All of these tremendous actions are not possible without the strength of the hips, as well as the many functions at play. To be more specific, the hips have four main actions:
– Hip Flexion
– Hip Extension
– Hip Adduction
– Hip Abduction
Each of these functions equally play roles in soccer specific movements, and in order to be a strong and durable athlete, it bodes well to attack all of these components. Additionally, it’s wise to add power drills to further increase the performance of the hips for optimal speed and explosiveness.
So how do soccer players build their hips? Let us dive in:
1. Hip Flexion Exercises
Here is what you need to know: hip flexor strength allows soccer players to strike the ball with a powerful follow-through, sprint at maximal speed, and hone passing technique. But oddly enough, the hip flexors are the most ignored when it comes to bulletproofing the hips. More often than not, soccer players are under the impression their hip flexors are tight, when rather, they are weak.
With that said, here are two exercises to strengthen the hip flexors:
Perform 2-3 sets, 10-12 reps each side.
Perform 2-3 sets, 10-12 reps each side.
2. Hip Extension Exercises
Taking the conversation back to jumping higher and sprinting faster, hip extension is paramount to any action that is explosive in the beautiful game. Since hip extension movements target the largest, most powerful muscle of the hips, the gluteus maximus, these should be paramount in any soccer performance program.
Here are two hip extension movements:
Perform 2-3 sets, 10-12 reps (add weight for progression)
For hypertrophy, perform 2-4 sets, 10-12 reps
For strength, perform 3-4 sets, 4-6 reps
3. Hip Adduction Exercises
Groin strains are becoming more rampant in the soccer world due to lack of adductor strengthening movements in performance programs. Oftentimes, athletes focus too much on abduction exercises and fail to realize a nice balance of both is needed.
Here are two to try:
Perform 2-3 sets, 30-45 seconds.
Perform 2-3 sets, 5-10 each side
4. Hip Abduction Exercises
The hip abductors allow players to externally rotate their hips, so they can change direction efficiently. Additionally, hip abductors help with stabilization, especailly with the plant leg when striking a shot. The better the stabilization of the abductor, the more free the shooting leg can move in a controlled, yet powerful manner without losing balance.
Here are two hip abductor exercises to sprinkle into your program:
Perform 2-3 sets, 30 seconds
Perform 2-3 sets, 10-12 each side
Building strong hips for soccer takes attacking all the functions so athletes are not unbalanced or favoring one muscle group. Think of the hips as the main engine of the soccer player that fuels a plethora of actions in the game. It bodes well for you to fill the engine up as much as you can to optimize performance.
5. Hip Power Exercises
Now that the athlete has built a base level of strength, it’s time to get the hips explosive. You know, to improve acceleration and maximal sprinting speed.
Here are a few drills to try:
Perform 2-3 sets, 4-6 reps. I’d argue to pair this with a strength exercise to maximize post activation potentiation for power development. Normally, I pair this with Zercher squats or deadlifts.
For the lateral lunge, perform 2-3 sets 6-8 reps each side.
Perform 2-3 sets 4-6 box jumps.
I hope the above movements help. The hips, after all, are the base of what a soccer athletes does during a 90-minute match, so train all functions, all planes, all aspects accordingly.
Very quickly, you’ll be able to tell if a player if building their hips enough in the gym, and able to withstand the demands of the game.
Remember: the hips don’t lie.
For more specific programming of hip exercises and to work with me more closely, go here.