What are hip shifts, how do they happen, and what can you do about them. Pro powerlifter Stefi Cohen explains how to fix hip shift in your squat.
The hip shift if the inability of one lower extremity to accept weight, which leads to the hips shifting to one side at the bottom position of the squat. It’s common in people recovering from leg injuries but can also happen in the absence of injury.
How to fix hip shift in your squat?
The most important aspect to fixing your hip shift is technique. Technique is the foundation and, if you lack it, it won’t matter how many strength exercises, mobility drills, or position alterations you do, the hip shift will not be fixed.
Make sure you:
- Master the squat patterns
- Master movement proficiency: the ability to perform back squats
- Master motor control: your muscles, joints and nerves are able to perform coordinated movement patterns
To fix your technique, you can:
- Squat in front of a mirror: don’t depend on the mirror to squat, but this technique can help you focus on the way you’re performing the back squat and allows you to make changes during the exercise.
- Try different squat variations: Stefi Cohen’s favorite ones are Tempo Squats and Pause Squats.
If you have muscle or strength imbalances between your legs, working on your single leg strength can be a great way to fix hip shift in your squat.
You can add strength exercises before you start squatting to prep the movement and get each leg ready, ensuring each leg is generating the same amount of power.
- Single Leg Box Squats
- Staggered Stance Squat
Focus on putting all your weight on your back leg. These exercises shouldn’t tire you out, so they’re great to perform before your squat workout. Perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps.
You can perform other single leg strength exercises after your workout and load them up more. Try:
- Bulgarian Split Squat
Read more: Should you Track Your Macros? Top Powerlifter Stefi Cohen Offers 5 Approaches
Mobility restriction at hip level are a common cause of hip shift. Additionally, ankle mobility issues could be causing this problem.
Internal and external rotation issues on the hip mean that, at the bottom of the squat, one side of your hips is able to open/close up more, which manifests through the hip shift.
- Hip 90/90
- Hip 90/90 without hands
The hip 90/90 is a great exercise to improve external and internal rotation of the hip, as well as a great assessment tool to figure out whether or not you have mobility issues in your hips.
Positioning is all about awareness. Be aware of where you’re pointing your feet, how wide your legs are, etc. to figure out whether your squats look symmetrical.
Positional faults are generally a result of joint mobility issues, lack of strength or poor technique, so being aware of them will help you know what problem to address.
Watch Stefi Cohen explain how to fix hip shift in your squat
- Tia Toomey back squat: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.