Use These Hip Extension Exercises to Become a Better Athlete

STACK Expert John Cissik offers four exercises all athletes should be doing to improve their sports performance.

Hip extension exercises are an important way to improve athletic performance. The ability for the hamstrings, glutes and lower back to work together is critical to sports performance. This is incredibly important for exerting force against the ground, levering off one side of the body, absorbing impacts without tearing an ACL, and lower-back health in general. In other words, it's important for injury prevention, jumping, sprinting, stopping, changing directions, throwing, kicking and hitting. Not only that, but the hamstrings have to be strong in the lengthened position. This is important for preventing those annoying hamstring strains, which are associated with sprinting and take forever to heal.

Four Exercises to Boost Your Sports Performance

Use These Hip Extension Exercises to Become a Better Athlete

There are four exercises every athlete should be doing to strengthen these muscles in a way that transfers to improved sports performance. This article describes these exercises and suggests how you can incorporate them into your strength and conditioning program.

1. Romanian Deadlifts

The Romanian Deadlift is one of the best exercises to train the glutes, hamstrings and lower back. It also strengthens the hamstrings while they are lengthened. All of this makes it an exercise that packs a lot of benefits in a short period of time.


  • Stand up holding the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart and your palms facing your body.
  • Stick your chest out and pull your shoulders back.
  • Your feet should be hip-width apart with a slight bend in your knees.
  • Push your hips back, and as you do so, lean forward and allow the bar to slide down your thighs.
  • Keep your shoulders back and your chest out.
  • Lower the bar as far as you can while maintaining this position with your chest and shoulders, then reverse directions and straighten out.

Do this exercise for 4 to 12 repetitions per set. My goal is to have my athletes do this exercise with a weight comparable to what they use on the Squat.

RELATED: 3 Ways You're Messing Up Your Romanian Deadlifts

2. Good Mornings

This exercise has a movement pattern that is very similar to the Romanian Daedlift, except that the barbell is on the back of the shoulders instead of held in the hands. This exercise works the same muscles in the same way as the Romanian Deadlift.


  • Stand up with the bar on the back of your shoulders.
  • Stick your chest out and pull your shoulders back.
  • Your feet should be hip-width apart with a slight bend in your knees.
  • Push your hips back and lean forward as far as comfortable.
  • Reverse directions.

Like the Romanian Deadlift, do this exercise for sets of 4 to 12 reps. The weight should be comparable to what an athlete would use in a Lunge.

RELATED: Why You Should be Doing Good Mornings

3. Partial Deadlifts

This is a great total-body exercise. In addition to the hamstrings, lower back and glutes, it also develops the quadriceps. To perform this exercise you either need a power rack or heavy duty boxes on which to set the barbell.

Since we're training for improved athletic performance, this exercise needs to be done conventionally (i.e., feet hip-width apart and hands outside the legs).


  • Begin with the bar at knee height.
  • Squat down until your hands can grip the barbell.
  • Stick your chest out and pull your shoulders back.
  • Keeping your arms straight, lift the bar off the rack or blocks. Do this by extending your hips and knees. When done right, your shoulders, hips and knees all travel up at the same speed.

This is the kind of exercise on which you can work up to a lot of weight. With that in mind, there are two important pointers. First, focus on keeping your chest out and shoulders back to protect your lower back. Second, keep your arms straight to prevent a biceps tear.

This exercise is normally done for up to 8 repetitions per set.

4. Reverse Hyperextensions

This exercise develops the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. Like the other exercises, it does so in a way that strengthens hamstrings in the lengthened position.


  • Lie down on a bench with your chest and hips in contact with the bench.
  • Place a dumbbell between your feet.
  • Keeping your legs together, lower your legs as far as possible toward the ground.
  • Keeping your upper body and hips in contact with the bench and your legs together, raise the dumbbell as far as your legs can comfortably move. All the movement should come from your hips.

This exercise is normally done for 8 to 15 repetitions per set.

Incorporating the Exercises into Your Program

Back Squat

To incorporate these exercises into a strength training program, perform one of them into any maximal strength day. For example, if Monday is your maximal strength training day, your workout might look like this:

  • Back Squats: 3x6-10@80-85%
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 3x6-10
  • Bench Press: 3x6-10@80-85%
  • Bent-Over Rows: 3x6-10

If you are performing a hypertrophy-themed workout, these exercises need to balance out quadriceps-dominant exercises, pretty close to 1:1. Here is an example:

  • Front Squats: 3x8-12@80%
  • Lunges: 3x8-12 each leg
  • Partial Deadlifts: 3x8-12
  • Reverse Hyperextensions: 3x12-15

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