4 Biggest Reasons Why You Need to Train Your Hips (Plus: FREE Hip Workout)

Question from one of our readers:

“I’m a dragon boat athlete, why do I need to train my hips and legs? Isn’t that a waste of my time?”

Well young Viking, the world is not just chest and biceps…unfortunately. As awesome as everyone would look if this were true, function and performance are the focus in the world of sport, not just aesthetics.

Luckily for you, there happens to be an uncharted land of un-tapped muscle and power located below the belt.  You ladies and gents are sick you if thought we weren’t talking about your hips (glutes and hamstrings).

Here are four reasons why you need hips:

[read until the end for a FREE hip workout]

1. It’s all in the hips


As a wise, wooden-armed Chubbs once said to Happy Gilmore, “it’s all in the hips, it’s all in the hips.” At the time we all laughed but Chubbs was onto something.

Regardless of whether the sport is golf, dragon boat, hockey, football or anything else, the hips are the primary joint capable of delivering the most power. In sport, power is king. The athlete that can apply the most amount of force in the shortest period of time reigns supreme. The hips therefore deserve to be trained and utilized if victory is your goal.

So if all you’re doing for dryland is training upper body, you’re leaving untapped power and speed on the table. Training the hips is so important if we had to choose only one exercise for an athlete, it would be some variation of squat or deadlift, regardless of the sport.

Don’t believe me? Ask Shakira. Her hips don’t lie.


2. Load the hips to reduce the strain on all other joints


Ever tried paddling with just your arms, shoulders and back? Well you’ll know you can’t generate any large amount of power, you fatigue quickly and ultimately, you move slower than a turtle.

By transferring the load to the hips and letting the big engine do the work; you reduce the load on every other muscle group. What does this mean? It means less overall fatigue, reduced injury rate and a better performance.

When shoulder and low back injuries are common place, learning how to utilize your hips for power production will help you win more races and stay healthy in the boat. Nobody likes watching their team dominate the competition while they nurse sore shoulders and backs in the infirmary on the side lines.


3. Hip mobility so you can get into optimal paddle position


Now it goes against common knowledge that weight training can actually be the BEST flexibility and mobility training you can do.

Most people resort to yoga, Pilates and other various forms of bodyweight exercise, but the reality of it is, strength training is one of the best ways to increase flexibility.

Think about it. If I add 400lbs to your back and ask you to get in a squat position, wouldn’t you think gravity will provide a little support in pushing you closer to the ground?

Now, how does this transfer to dragon boat? Well, if you have extremely tight hips, getting into the boat becomes a challenge and getting into a proper paddling position is exponentially harder. If it’s hard to get into that position, you can bet you aren’t paddling effectively and potentially setting yourself up for an injury.

Therefore, if we release the hips and strengthen them through a full range of motion, you’ll be able to get into more effective paddling positions and improve your technical habits.


4. Build bigger glutes so you can resist getting callouses on your glutes


The most important reason of all for dragon boat athletes to train lower bodies comes from the structural adaptations attained via hip training; namely hypertrophied gluteals.

While some out there may enjoy hard wood rubbing up on their butt cheeks – mind in the gutter again – most would attest that a pad to cushion the seat would be a blessing. Officials can prevent you from padding up the seat, but they can’t take away your butt cheeks so build them up with a healthy dose of squats and deadlifts. Sore back sides are never fun and calloused glutes are only cool if you got the muscle to sport them.

We’ve finally convinced you why your hips are so important but you may be unsure how to implement it. We’ve got you covered. Here’s a sample day to build the hips and accelerate you athletic development:

Free Workout For Your Hips


A) Rocking Hip-Flexor Stretch – 3x 5s contract, 10s relax each side
B) Alternating Deadbug + Goblet Squat PNF – 10/side + 3x 5s contract, 10s relax each side
C) Spiderman Lunge with Reach + Groin Stretch + Rockback –  x5/side


A) Goblet Squat to box 3×10
B) RDL 3×10
C) Reverse Lunge 3×10/leg

So hopefully you see the uncharted land isn’t as scary or complicated as you once thought. Hips can unlock a world of potential if you train them with exercises such as the squat and deadlift. They can help you generate more power, keep you healthy, increase your paddling potential and ultimately give you a back side worthy of Valhalla.

Time to get your hips on!


Photo Sources: chubbs, dragonboat, vandamme, squat, glutebridge

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