Hip Strength vs Leg Strength - Which Do Athletes Need More?

Athletes transitioning from youth levels to high school/college need a strong lower half to keep up with the speed of the game, limit injury risk, and to stand up to the growing physical demands of their sport.
In previous decades, athletes who proactively trained for their season would focus on squatting, deadlifting, leg extension, leg curls and maybe some calf raises to build leg strength.
These are all valuable drills, to varying degrees, but they do have limited value in developing the most critical muscles involved in sprint speed, knee stability and lower body power.
The hip muscles.
Glutes, upper hamstrings, and adductor/groin muscles were largely forgotten in those bodybuilding-style workouts of past years.
Yet they play huge roles in sports development and your ability to succeed at higher levels.
Squatting and deadlifting do work the hips in some fashion, provided your technique is sound, but most other leg strength drills don't help at all.
Here are some key hip strengthening drills that do translate extremely well to actual athletic performance:
  • Hip Thrusts
  • Band Walks
  • Single leg strength drills
  • Adductor pulls
  • 3-dimensional lunging
  • Sprint development movements
These are all great 'bang for your buck' drills because they'll simultaneously help you develop better speed/agility and to play stronger on the field, ice or court.
Oh yeah, they also dramatically lower your future knee and ankle injury risk.
For athletes who train on their own, or in a workout program that emphasizes basic lifts only, your sport performance would improve significantly over time if you devoted equal time to hip strength.
Is hip strength training better than leg strengthening for overall athletic development?
Probably, but they are both beneficial.
However, if your workouts solely focus on just leg strength you're leaving a lot of future development on the table.

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