There's a lot of conflicting advice out there on warming up, stretching, foam rolling, and general mobility. So much so that it can leave you confused and overwhelmed — and worse, not making any progress in the weight room. Here's an easy guide to understanding where you're likely to have mobility issues, how to fix your weaknesses, and how to bust through even your heaviest lifts with ease.
It's All In the Hips
Most adults spend the majority of their day in what’s called hip and spinal flexion. That means a closed-hip fold and a poor spinal position — the instigators of bad posture. These need to be corrected in order to restore balance to your body. Having good hip mobility can decrease chronic back pain, help your glutes work more effectively, and allow you to take longer strides and “cut” more efficiently on the court, pitch, or gridiron.
These serve a dual purpose in not only opening up and stretching the hip region, but bringing the rotation of the mid back into play, too — which is another commonly restricted area in the typical adult. Twisting to the open side the way you see in the video can also intensify the stretch to the hip complex, making it even more effective.
High Knee Walks
Doing these before your workout can be the dynamic stretch the glutes need from the other side of things. Remember to stay tall and pull the knee right up to the chest. No slouching.
Don’t Forget Your Shoulder Joint
Not surprisingly, the other major ball-and-socket joint in the body is a central point responsible for the most range of motion, and for that reason, making sure it’s in proper working order is important before upper-body movements.
Shoulder dislocates are a great way to get the joint to release fluids and create more range of motion. If using a dowel or broomstick is too confining and causes pain, switch to a band, so the width of your hands isn’t set in stone as you go through the movement.
Though they’re less important when compared to the above movement, wall slides still matter to help the shoulder joint maintain proper position while going through a press pattern, which pops up a lot in weightlifting. Many people who have tight shoulder joints will find ways to compensate this pattern by overarching the spine or letting the wrists fall away from the wall. Try hard to keep every point of contact against the wall, as doing so will ask more of the shoulders’ mobility through a dynamic range of motion.
Putting it All Together: Overhead Squat
People view an unloaded overhead squat as an exercise that should have entered the conversation earlier. The thing is, there are mobility prerequisites that need to be achieved for the overhead squat to actually be an effective warm-up drill. It's a tough move that combines stability with mobility and should be attempted by lifters who have already completed their warm-up and have good coordination. For an instructional, check out the video below.
For good measure, take a look at the mobility circuit video below. In it, you’ll see a few new movements including:
- Squat with overhead reach
- Side lying thoracic rotation
- Heels-elevated overhead squats
It doesn’t mean you have to go through this entire circuit each time you train, but picking and choosing movements from it could be a big help for your mobility — and have you crushing your plateaus in no time.