What makes the difference in an elite athlete over a weekend bagger? Aside from millions of dollars of annual income a lot of it has to do with proper training in the gym that leads to having a level of explosive power and agility many of us only dream about. That is not to say that with proper training anyone can suddenly become the next Emmitt Smith, but we sure would be a lot closer than we are now.
One area that elite athletes often crush us mere mortals is explosive power in the hips. Any time you are running, pivoting, twisting to throw or catch, kicking, or similar motions you are using the hip and groin muscles for stabilization. That stability is key to then having your body lined up and ready to explode into the next motion using the rest of the muscles in the body.
Imagine someone like Emmitt Smith when he would plant his feet, crouch and pivot, then explode in a quick change of direction. That stability makes it all possible.
Training the Hips
If you are an athlete or play sports regularly then you need to train your groin and hips. Along with the glutes and hamstrings, these muscles help during critical points of stabilization and changing direction. The best exercise for doing this is the Split Squat.
Basically a split squat is a lot like doing a lunge. You can do this exercise with a barbell or dumbbells. The position is to start with one foot forward and one backwards. You bend both knees and descend straight down focusing on lowering your hips straight down. At the finish point both legs will be at 90 degree angles.
The rear knee should almost be touching the ground a little bit behind your spine. The front knee should be squarely over the middle of your foot. You do not want the knee to travel further forward over the toes or beyond because it puts more emphasis on the quadriceps as well as stress on the knee joint.
You pull your body straight down and then use all of your leg muscles to push yourself back upright. Keep your back and abs flat to support the torso and head looking forward. A good range would be 3 sets of about 8 to 12 reps for each side (with each leg forward). You can use more weight with a barbell but sometimes dumbbells are easier to learn with because the weight placement reminds you to go straight down and there is less concern on balance. This also makes it easier to get the foot placement correct.
The Bottom Line
You hear announcers talk about the ability to cut, pivot, or turn quickly and what a difference it makes to an athlete. It doesn’t matter if you are talking football, baseball, soccer, or basketball; having strong and stable hips and groin muscle will pay big dividends on and off the field. Stabilizing muscles like the core, hips, and groin are used so often each day that ensuring that they are in the best shape possible will only help you in the long run.