I have narrowed down my choices lately while in the gym and worked on getting my mobility exercises very precise to what I am trying to achieve. Day to day I will add in a few more exercises here and there that will help with the workout but those are decided on the day, however, the 4 listed below are for sure the ones I try to get done every day. As I work full body 3-4 times a week, I need my full body feeling great. So these stretches and exercises will allow my body to work in top condition and hopefully, I will be injury free for a while to come.
Mobility is extremely important, not only does it prevent injury, but it also allows you to get a fuller range of motion while you are in the gym. A fuller range of motion = more eccentric loading which means more muscular damage which in turn can lead to more muscle gain.
Disclaimer: I am not your physical therapist. I can not tell you what exercises to do and if you have serious muscular imbalances or injuries please see your physician first before beginning any of these exercises.
Dead hangs are great for many things. They increase your grip strength which will allow you to hold more weight in rows, deadlifts and even hold the bar longer for pull ups. But most importantly they are an incredible exercise for the spine and shoulders. I try to hang at least once a day and fully relax into it with my scapula elevated up to my ears and my arms completely straight.
This helps your Thoracic spine to extend, your lats will be able to stretch, your back can flatten and your abs can relax. If you have a partner, get them to push your t-spine forward (gently) which will create a massive stretch in your chest and anterior shoulders!
This is by far one of the simplest stretches you could ever do, all you need to do is grab a bar or ledge overhead and hold on! If your grip is still getting better and you don’t have full strength to be able to fully hang from the bar, keep your feet on the ground and simply bend your knees down to allow a full extension of the shoulders and arms.
We are always told while lifting in the gym to keep your back straight. While this is great advice and should definitely be followed while doing heavy lifting, the spine is also designed to be able to move. Each vertebra should be able to flex and extend, not stay still. As long as you go slow and don’t load up the weight with a Jefferson curl, it feels incredible for the posterior chain.
This is a staple exercise for gymnasts and Olympic weightlifters around the world. It is also highly recommended by one of the best gymnastics coaches in the world Chris Sommer.
When performing this stretch, think about trying to roll each vertebra individually starting from your cervical spine at the top of your neck all the way down to the base of your back. As I said, go slow with this and don’t try to load it up. Once you become sufficiently mobile enough you can raise it up and stand on the edge of a box which can allow you to get deeper into the movement. The end goal for this in terms of mobility is being able to get your chest on your knees with the weight hanging down.
This is a great video to watch if you’re not sure on what do.
The human body isn’t designed to sit down for as long as we do. The main sufferers will be the hips. Your glutes will turn off and stop activating while your hip flexors take over to compensate, thus leaving you looking like Donald Duck with your arse poking backwards. This is an extreme case but your glutes will start to deactivate and not fire during vital movements after sitting down for a long amount of time.
Activating your glutes will eventually start to allow you to lift more weight and who doesn’t want that?
There are many ways of doing this but my preferred method is just grabbing a resistance band and putting it around the knees. From there you can go into a glute bridge and really squeeze the bum at the top of the movement while also pushing the knees out and stop them from caving in. If you really squeeze the bum you will start to feel this movement in around 10-15 seconds. Generally, your hips will start to loosen as your glutes become more and more activated because you are able to stand in a proper extended position instead of in a slight forward lean. This will allow your hip flexors to loosen up too
Loaded Ankle Dorsiflexion
Regardless of who I speak to, a trouble area always seems to be the ankles. Dorsiflexion is the ability to bring the toes towards the shin. If you wear heels at all (even small heels on your shoes count gents) your ankles are already in plantarflexion, the opposite movement. Over time, your body adapts to this and will tighten and lock up your ankles in this position so your ability to dorsiflex is limited.
Dorsiflexion is crucial for a good squat, anyone who says your knees shouldn’t go past your toes during squats has obviously never tried to walk without this happening. It’s almost impossible to stop this happening day to day life, so why should squatting be any different?
Also if you are finding you are struggling with a “butt wink” in the deep squat position, this can be reduced or even solved by your ankle dorsiflexion.
My current favourite stretch is before squatting or loading up a bar, rest the bar across both knees. Force your knees forward while keeping your heel on the ground. This can be done with a dumbbell for each individual ankle too.
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