The glutes are powerful muscles that push the body forward during forward locomotion (walking, running, or sprinting) they also influence stance position through the hips. Training the posterior chain muscles should be in every single training program out there. Creating a strong relationship between the brain and glutes is needed for performance and function. If that sensation and relationship is not there then there are patterned tendencies to use the lower back instead of the hips throwing off all movements we try to perform. The ability to sync the mind, thorax and hips together is the endgame goal, this ensures that movement patterns performed are targeting correct movement patterns and we get the desired effect that the training is going to target.
The hinge pattern is a movement humans do every single day of our lives, we bend over to tie shoes, pick up kids, pick up things off the floor, even as we sit down or get into a car. It is performed throughout the day without many even realizing it, so for people to not train it their exercise and training program is silly, a goal of training is to prepare the body for forces and demands of everyday life and make sure the body can handle them if not we end up broken and in pain. The pattern is when the hips move posteriorly and are horizontally displaced behind the body, as the hips go backwards the torso comes forward so the chest is over or slightly in front of the knees. In order for the hips to move back the thorax needs to come down and forward, it is disadvantageous to try and keep an upright torso while the hips go back, yet again this will lead to patterning of the lower back musculature to take over.
One of the big reasons many are fearful of or avoid performing the hip hinge is due to the fact pain and lower back injuries. This is very common and understandable; this occurs when the hinge is performed with hips and ribcage in improper position and repeated overtime with load and many reps. Either it will be felt at the time of the lift or a couple hours later or the next day. The thought of performing the lift then becomes a negative emotion because of the pain or issues it caused and the person avoids the movement. I agree to full extent, I have been there and felt those issues. But it is not a reason to completely throw out a movement pattern that we need in everyday life, it means we should perfect the movement pattern and practice it in proper form and sense the correct muscles engaging without weight then progressively add some resistance to it.
The biggest bang for the buck hinge pattern by far is the deadlift, now I prefer the hex bar deadlift because it puts the body in a more favorable posture to push through the floor and engage the glutes. The straight bar deadlift is fine, but I do find that the bar being positioned in front puts the torso more forward and there is a greater tendency for lower back engagement as the pull initiates, but it is still a great movement. Now the deadlift trains the glutes to push the hips forward, and push through the ground to produce force. The lift is different from most because for the first rep there is no eccentric motion to load the body, this can be a challenge for the neurological system because it is expecting a lowering motion to get a sense of the resistance and force needed to move the weight in the opposite direction. From a motionless position the lifter has to engage the body to accept the resistance of the weight, within the first couple of inches off the ground the body will learn a lot about the weight. The initial pull and first half is the most crucial part of the deadlift to keep tension and push through the floor. Once you get through the first rep then you get the opportunity to have an eccentric movement and the body gets used to the force and can move the weight a little bit quicker. Deadlifts are a great way to improve speed, athletic performance and overall posterior chain health.
Training the hinge pattern can require the thorax and the hips to be aligned in a stacked position, as the hips move back the thorax/rib cage must be in line and over the hips to allow for proper mechanics through joints. The abdominals play a crucial role in maintaining posture of the thorax and hips while the hips move posteriorly.
The hinge is not just limited to the bilateral deadlift there are many variations of deadlifts that can be performed to target the posterior chain muscles, these include RDLs (romanian deadlifts) SLDL (single leg deadlift). These variations are all great exercises and more often than not I use them more than the hex bar or regular deadlift. Especially the unilateral movements to help train each individual leg/side of the body to function separately from the other. This will lead to performance increases in gait and running.