Issue #154


by Juan Carlos Lopez

20 Questions with Cover Model Larissa Nowak

Video Interview with Amateur Bikini Larissa Nowak

Larissa Nowak, Kat Secor, Kimberly Rieck, Layla Vossoughi & Lindsay Bradley

Three Simple Exercises to Improve your Leg Training and Function
by Tina Jo Orban

Video Interview with Amateur Figure Krista Stevens



Three Simple Exercises to Improve your Leg Training and Function by Tina Jo Orban

When people think of training their hips and “glutes” they typically think of “go-to” exercises such as the mighty squat, lunges, jump squats, box jumps, RDL’s, deadlifts and so on. However, the hip is a fascinating and interesting joint that is capable of far more than just sagittal plane movements. The hip joint is called the acetabular-femoral joint. This joint is capable of many movements including external rotation, internal rotation, extension, flexion, abduction, adduction and even circumduction. It is a miracle in terms of kinesiology. This joint in layman's term is a ball and socket joint. And in anatomical nomenclature it is classified as a synovial joint and enarthroidial. This simply means the round head of one bone fits into a rounded concave cavity of another bone. Think of a baseball and and a catcher’s mitt. It also has a well lubricated (hopefully) joint capsule. This is filled with synovial fluid.

In addition to the many planes of movement that the hip joint is capable of, the hip joint has many small deep muscles that allow for what I like to think of as finesse movements. Indeed, similar to the shoulder joints famed “rotator cuff” there are six deep muscles (Piriformis, Gemellus superior, Obturator internus, Gemellus inferior, Obturator externus, Qaudratus femoris) that serve a similar purpose like the rotator cuff. Well sort of, let me explain. The rotator cuff primarily serves to hold the head of the humerus in the glenoid fossa of the scapula, as well as stabilizing the shoulder joint this small but powerful “cuff” works to rotate the humerus both externally and internally. The rotator cuff muscles also create some abduction and adduction. Conversely, the deep six work as small yet powerful external rotators of the the hip joint. Think of them as the dynamos of the hip. Sure the “glutes” “quads” and “hams” get all the focus when hip/leg training but don’t forego your specific deep six training. But don’t deep six them! [1]

When the typical gym goer trains legs/hips external rotation is often overlooked. But you’re not typical. You’re informed and want maximum performance. That is precisely the reason for this article. That is precisely why you are reading this. Let us focus on some core training in the hip area that underlie the major muscle groups that most people are familiar with.

The hip joint primarily functions to support the weight of one's body in standing and in dynamic movement such as walking and running. We can train the muscles around the hip such as the extensors: hamstrings (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris) and the Gluteus medius, Gluteus minimus and the backside star the Gluteus maximus as well as the some of the hip flexors (Tensor fasciae latae. TFL and the iliopsoas) with squats and lunges and deadlifts (Oh my!). But the purpose of this article is to focus on the muscles that underlie those powerful extensors and flexors of the hip. Again the external rotators of the hips are what we trainers and the like call the deep six muscles. As aforementioned they are: Piriformis, Gemellus superior, Obturator internus, Gemellus inferior, Obturator externus, Quadratus femoris).

These powerful core hip muscles in the acetabular-femoral joint (hip joint) serve primarily to powerfully externally rotate the hip. This means the femur is rotating or spinning laterally. This is torque power and if you want to be dynamic it is a good idea not to neglect specific training of this group. There are ligaments that prevent extreme external rotation, of course as well as internal rotation in the area but the muscles can still be trained maximally to increase their strength and power to provide a more stable functional joint. I have compiled a few exercises you can perform PRIOR to your arsenal of hip/glute work. To be in the know just know lunges and squats are excellent for what we trainers call sagittal plane exercises. Sagittal plane exercises occur on a coronal axis. Squats, lunges and even deadlifts occur in this plane. And they occur in a coronal or frontal axis in space. That is fine for this joint and the major muscles that move it. On the contrary with external rotation we are working in a transverse plane (think horizon) and working on torque strength of the hip joint! Think of a baseball pitcher just after his wind up and powerful throw.  

Indeed rotational velocities that pitchers achieve to throw a baseball in upwards of 100 mph are linked in a kinetic chain that relies on “the deep six.”[2] . Read on below for a few exercises I have compiled for you to achieve maximum performance out of YOUR legs and hips.

Exercise Number One:
Side Lying Twisted Hip Abductors
Lay on your side. (gee that was easy). Start with knees together then lift and twist against a training partners hand or use a TheraBand[3] . See image on link.) [4]
Sets Three or Four. Reps 15. Rest One Minute.

Exercise Number Two:

Modified Wood Chop.

Position your self at a cable weight with single D-handle grip (*improvise TheraBand or resistance cord with similar grip).
Stand with your side toward the axis point (i.e., the weight or resistance). Keep your feet in an athletic stance, knees slightly bent, feet hip width apart. As if you were going to perform a wood chop don’t do the upswing just twist at the hip (less so at trunk). See Woodchop[5] . Drive your heel on the same side that grips the D-handle. Do the other side!
Sets Three or Four. Reps 15. Rest One Minute.


Weighted Cable Abductors

Suzanne Somers used to hawk this personal medial thigh remedy called the Thigh Master. Rumor is she made millions on this contraption that you put between your legs a gave it a squeeze. (I’ll make no further comment). The antagonistic movement to the thigh master is what we are going for here in the Weighted Cable Abductors. If you have access to one of those leather cable ankle straps, strap that on your ankle.  As in the the former exercise, keep your feet in an athletic stance, knees slightly bent, feet hip width apart. The ankle with the strap should be on the farther side from the weight stack. Perform abduction move your leg out slowly as if performing a one sided jumping jack. As you raise your leg outward you should rotate your toes so they face outward (see image)[6] .  The only difference is you should turn your foot out as you raise your leg. Sets Three or Four. Reps 15. Rest One Minute.

Velocity of these exercises should be slow and controlled. This is particularly true when you are attached to cables. Keep that in mind. Now go out and work those hips.

[1] Deep Six means to destroy something irrevocably. Its an old nautical term referring to toss something overboard so as to lose it forever. Apple Inc. Dictionary. 2018.
[2] Kinetic Chain in Overhead Pitching. National Center for Biotechnology. 2008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445080/

[3] TheraBand source: http://www.theraband.com/
[4] Side Lying Abduction https://i2.wp.com/haleyduke.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Hip-Abduction-Side-Lying-Single-Leg.jpg
[5] Wood Chop. Source: Caversham Health & Fitness.  Image jpeg. https://clubchf.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/wood-chop.jpg  Jan. 4 2018.
[6] Standing Cable Abduction. Source; Muscle & Fitness. https://cdn-maf0.heartyhosting.com/sites/
Jan. 6 2018.


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