Hinge of history

My son, camp counselor and green team leader, lost a closely contested Color War competition last summer. The outcome of the entire tournament came down to the final event – a tug of war. Independent of strategy and heart, the other squad was just stronger.

At such moments, there’s little comfort that a dad can provide. I simply conveyed over the phone one of life’s most difficult lessons: you can do your best and still lose. In fact, this paradox is so painful even religion gets involved. For true believers, loss is a test of faith. You must trust in God’s plan, even if you can’t see it.

There’s another, similar way of looking at the world when things head south. The principle is: you did the best you could at the time with what you knew. Put more succinctly, painful lessons teach best. This paradigm applies to the metaphysical, like learning how to make your relationships work, or to the very physical, like injuring yourself at the gym.

So, what if I had known more when I began my fitness journey? What if I could start over from the first day I began lifting weights? What advice would I give to my teenage self?

On Twitter, I recently came across a video from a man in his mid-70s posting his first try ever at deadlifts. His effort was courageous but his form needed work. He asked social media for beginner’s advice. I gave a recommendation that I realized applies regardless of age: First, learn the hinge.

The hip hinge is the foundational movement for bending and straightening your low back. Proper hinge form will teach you how to pick things up off the ground uneventfully, from a piece of paper to a heavy barbell. It teaches you how the deadlift (done correctly) is not a low back exercise, but rather a loaded movement for strengthening your glutes.

Hip hinge mastery from the start could help countless gym enthusiasts avoid a lifetime of low back problems:

Mastering the hip hinge
The correct back angle for all forms of the hinge
Deadlift is a weighted hinge

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