Mobility — The Unsung Hero of Progress

The smartest way to improve.


Mobility. You’ve heard the term thrown around by powerlifters and Olympic lifters, but it sounds just about as entertaining as a pre-workout detox. Mind numbing or not, the benefits of taking time for your joints and ligaments before you bum-rush the weights far outweigh any boredom.

The Demographic

Most are expecting to single out competitive athletes for whom mobility drills deliver the most benefit; however, anyone who isn’t giving their joints and ligaments attention is asking for an injury. In fact, we would suggest that mobility, pre-workout dynamic stretching, and foam rolling is most important for young lifters. This isn’t to say that older athletes or gym goers looking to maintain a solid quality of life should put this on the back burner; rather, that youthful weight lifters tend to pile on the plates with reckless abandon, and developing habits early is far better than later.

The Drills

1. Lateral Squat

These are going to feel strange to say the least, but do your best to keep your feet pointed straight ahead. This lateral movement will develop your frontal plane mobility.


2. Wall Slide

Shoulders are a problem area for most who have been lifting for any length of time. It’s a sure thing that at least three out of five individuals in the weight room would admit to having an issue with their shoulders, currently or in the past. Wall Slides will stretch your pecs and rotators, decrease the overcompensation of the traps, and give you the realization that you should’ve been doing these years ago. Start with a few sets of five incorporated into your new warm up mobility routine, and increase the reps and sets with the passing weeks.

3. Overhead Squat

Even if you’ve never performed a snatch, or never plan to, overhead squats are the perfect movement to expose problems in joint mobility. It’s important to be mindful of each piece of the puzzle as you lower down into the movement. A picture perfect Overhead Squat requires retracting of the shoulders blades, the chest to be held high, proper hinging of the hips, and a high level of ankle dorsiflexion.

A few sets of Overhead Squats with an empty bar are a great warm up for any routine, or progressively increase the load and make them a staple of your leg day.

The Outline

In case the creativity isn’t flowing at the moment, here is a sample pre-workout mobility routine. It won’t get you a pump, but it it will help keep you from having to use your health insurance.

Five Minutes – Incline Treadmill Walking or StairMaster

Dynamic Movements – Body Weight Squats, Hand Walk-Outs, Push-Ups, Arm Circles

Circuit – Three rounds of Lateral Squats, Wall Slides, and Overhead Squats – 5 Reps Each

The entirety of this safety routine shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, and might be the smartest thing you’ll do all week. Improving mobility is the easiest way to increase your progress on Squats, Bench, Deadlifts, Cleans, and Snatches.

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