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Solo Tib Bar 129
Hip flexors are the muscles that lift up your legs. As we stop sprinting due to age or injury, hip flexors get stiffer and weaker. With the ATG Split Squat for length and hip flexor lifts for strength, we have a route to prevent degradation and find out what our true speed potential is, since the hip flexors happen to be the greatest muscle size difference between elite sprinters and regular humans.
Below are the methods I use in the ATG programs, from low to high in terms of equipment cost. This is by no means a full list of all hip flexor exercises. Rather, they are the most user-friendly I’ve found with as close to infinite progression as possible. What this means is that virtually anyone can start, and even the fastest person in the world could go to MEASURABLE failure.
0. In the Zero Program we use the L-Sit. This costs NOTHING.
1. The cheapest personal purchase to load your hip flexors with measurable accuracy is a Reverse Squat Strap. However, this implies you have access to a cable machine, which is common in gyms but not practical at home.
The Cable Reverse Squat provided me with measurable feedback from coaching hundreds of people, ranging from grandmothers to athletes worth over a hundred million dollars. This led to 3 numbers for every ATG exercise:
The ATG Standard: This is a basic number which most people can’t do, but most people can do with consistent training, thereby fixing a modern human deficiency. For the Cable Reverse Squat, this number is 50% of bodyweight for 20 reps with hamstrings covering calves on each rep.
The ATG Longevity Standard: This is the number you can probably maintain for the rest of your life, but which probably less than 1% of society will, based on training seniors extensively. 25% of bodyweight for 20 reps is fantastic.
The Freak Checklist Number: I don’t know what it’s like to have freak genetics. I had the lowest vertical jump and the slowest 40-yard dash time on my high school basketball team despite leading the team in scoring and assists. I worked so hard at my body and skills, but not along a route. It was random. Some things worked. Some didn’t. I avoided the things that I needed most to bulletproof my body. So I reached my 20s having never once grabbed the rim. I was hooked on painkillers and had a partially artificial kneecap, meniscus transplant and surgically repaired quad tendon. Life sucked.
By comparison, my same work ethic applied to a step-by-step route toward the body I wanted now has me dunking easier than I ever dreamed — at age 31. I’m faster now than ever and am only approaching my true potential, thanks to measurable targets THAT I HAVEN’T REACHED YET. But in training hundreds of elite athletes, I know what the natural freak athletes can do, in every common area of athleticism and bulletproofing. For the Cable Reverse Squat, it’s 75% of bodyweight for 20 reps with your hamstrings covering your calves.
I spent an equal amount of time working on the L-Sit and Cable Reverse Squat until…
2. The MonkeyFoot was born. If you don’t have access to a cable machine, the MonkeyFoot allows you to lift dumbbells with your feet. Could you use heavy ankle weights? Sure. But it’s actually cheaper to buy one MonkeyFoot than to buy pair after pair of heavy ankle weights. If you’ve ever used ankle weights, they’re fine in the lower sizes but get incredibly annoying in the higher ones. Also, you can travel with the MonkeyFoot which is super light, whereas traveling around with heavy ankle weights would be ridiculous.
The ATG Standard: 10% x 20 getting thigh above parallel with back glute and quads flexed
The ATG Longevity Standard: 5% x 20
The ATG Freak Checklist Number: 15% x 20
3. Thanks to ATG, there’s a new subject of dual tibialis / hip flexor devices. This was originally done at ATG by using floss bands to attach dumbbells to your feet. The MonkeyFoot unfortunately doesn’t work well for tibialis raises since the dumbbell is horizontally attached at your heel and therefore doesn’t give you a good stretch in the bottom position. When vertically applying a dumbbell to your foot, you then have some good load in both the top and bottom positions. Now products exist which intentionally load from the ball of the foot, therefore being fully effective single-leg tibialis loading devices — which can be crucial for rehab and bulletproofing — yet they also work for hip flexor lifts. My own prototype is complete, works perfectly, and will be sold soon at an extremely low price for this industry. Mine is just steel plus velcro, thus being user-friendly and durable. The same ATG numbers apply as when using the MonkeyFoot, however some of these items are heavier by nature, so you may have to weigh your implement itself and compare it to a MonkeyFoot, which only feels to be about a pound.
4. Lastly, there is the subject of pre-set loads which can be used for hip flexor lifts. This would relate to gyms doing group classes, for example. You could have all your weights set up along a line and your people can just flow through and use them pretty instantly. This category could be more expensive than the previous categories, however; something like a 30-pound KyuBell costs $182 and can be used the rest of an elite athlete’s life. So for someone who already knows exactly how much weight they need and wants to splurge on something to make training even easier, this could be a long-term option. If your gym has kettlebells, you might check them out. Most people don’t find them comfortable for hip flexor lifts, but if your gym already has them I’d say it’s worth trying! The main difference between a kettlebell and KyuBell (in terms of hip flexor lifting) is that the KyuBell has a wide foot space and a super thick handle so it’s much more comfortable on the foot. It also fits virtually all shoe sizes. Out of respect to the Kyubell inventor, the Mad Scientist Chris Duffin, let me finish by saying that this is just one of many uses for the product and if you’re an equipment enthusiast, you may enjoy more gems from his arsena.
To conclude this article I must remind you that I have only coached hip flexor lifting in combination with hip flexor lengthening. The ATG Split Squat provides a measurable route for this.
I remember being told by well-educated, expensive trainers not to strengthen my hip flexors because that would make them stiff. Well, with only hip flexor lifting, ATG Split Squats, and the Couch Stretch, I can do front splits on each side. I’m one of the few people in the world with enough explosion to throw down tomahawk dunks and enough flexibility to drop down into splits. And my first nickname in high school was “Old Man” because I was so stiff and unathletic! Clearly, out potential is greater than we’ve been broadly taught.
The bottom line is that making people fear ABILITY is dead wrong. You can have strength and length.
Most importantly, every exercise I use scales so that my parents can do the same exercises. This concept of scalable ability training gave me the gift of helping others. I hope it helps you, too.
Yours in Solutions,