Wednesday Warm-up Review: Squat Mobility

The 5th edition of the Warm-up Review takes a look at our last exercise, the Squat Mobility.  This exercise is important as it will systemically get your body moving and works on mobility in several different areas, namely the hips and the thoracic spine.

Because of the complexity of this exercise, there are several regressions we can go through till we get to the full exercise.

  • Reach down towards your toes, grab them, and actively pull your hips down.
  • As you pull the hips down, raise the chest up towards the wall in front of you.
  • Once in that down position, lift one arm up and follow it with your head.
  • Bring that hand back to your toe, and repeat on the other side.
  • Grab both toes and push your hips towards the ceiling till you feel a stretch in the back of your legs.
  • Repeat!

Here’s where it gets interesting.  If you lack the thoracic mobility to bring the arms straight up, put your hand behind your head and rotate towards that side.

If getting your chest up is hard, we want you to just work on getting into that position.  Avoid the upper body component of this drill till you can sufficiently perform the lower body portion.


Top 5 Hip Mobility Drills

Are you looking to improve how well you squat or deadlift?  How about even just moving better?  Start your path to better movement by adding in simple hip mobility drills.

Hips are meant to be mobile.  If you look at the anatomy of the hip, it’s a ball and socket joint, meaning there should be free range of motion with very little restrictions.  However, due to how our bodies have adapted to a seated position, complications and compensations have popped up.  Ask yourself this question: “How many hours of the day are you stuck at a desk or in a car?”  If its a good portion of your day, chances are you could use some hip mobility work.  What ends up happening when we get stuck in one position for long periods of time is the body adapts to make positions efficient.  But efficient isn’t always optimal.  In this case muscles around the hips tense up to protect stability of the spine.  That protection of joints results in that “tight” feeling.  It’s at that point that our hip mobility starts to diminish.  Once that happens, performance in any lower body exercise is going to diminish.

When you feel tension or “tight,” what is the go to move?  STRETCHING!!

Tightness or tension will always result in the thought process of “oh I have to stretch this muscle or that muscle.”  Stretching will solve everything and it feels good, so why not do it.  The issue is that stretching isn’t necessarily going to solve the problem.  Sure it will feel great and once you finish, that tension disappears.  But what ends up happening is that once the acute effects of the stretch wear off, that tightness or tension comes right back.  This leads to more stretching, and thus the never ending cycle continues.  All those stretches that crank away at muscles and joints may just be exacerbating the issue.

What if I told you there was a better way to gain mobility though the hips so that your squats and deadlifts improve, and get out of that tension->stretch->tension cycle. stability issue is at play.  You do this by mixing together exercises that go through active range of motion with exercises that promote hip stability.

Here are the top 5 drills that you can implement into your program that will help you move better, feel better, and most importantly keep you from feeling that hip tension.

 

Yoga Block Internal Rotation

  • Lie on your back and place a yoga block between the knees in a 90/90 position
  • Put pressure into the block, keep the core braced and move one leg out to the side
  • Make sure the movement is coming from the hip.  Avoid movement from bending laterally.

 

90/90 Hip Switches

  • Sit on the ground with one leg in front, bent at 90 degrees, and the other to the side, also at 90. The front heel should line up with the knee of the opposite leg.
  • This puts one hip in external rotation and the other in internal rotation.
  • Keep the feet planted and transfer the knees to the opposite side. Just “switch” positions.
  • Make sure to keep your chest up and core engaged.

 

Unilateral Leg Rock

  • Set up in a quadruped position, then extend one leg out to the side.  Try to avoid moving the arms and hand to compensate for the different position.
  • Rock the hips back towards the wall and less towards the heels.
  • Maintain a straight spine throughout the movement.
  • Once you feel a slight stretch in the adductors and hamstrings, return to the starting position with your weight shifted over your hands.

 

Groiners/Spiderman Lunge

  • Start in a Push-up Position and keep the core braced
  • Bring the right foot towards the right hand and plant it on the ground as close to the hand as possible without losing form
  • Drive the hip towards the ground, then return the foot back to start

Hip Airplanes

  • While holding onto a bar, extend one leg straight out behind you, much like a single leg RDL
  • Maintain a neutral spine and rotate the hips from the standing leg
  • Control from start to finish.

 

Give some of these a try before you immediately jump to stretching your hips.  These drills can fit perfectly within your warm-up or in between sets of lifts.


Wednesday Warm-up Review: Unilateral Leg Rock

Unilateral Leg Rock

Week 4 of our Warm-up Review takes a look at the Unilateral Leg Rock.

The Unilateral Leg Rock works to mobilize the hips and prepare you for any lower body exercises you may do during your training.  You may notice some stretching through the adductors, glutes and hamstrings.  This is what you want to feel.  It doesn’t have to be an “Oh my god” painful experience, but a slight discomfort through the musculature.  Increasing mobility is all about testing out your range of motion, and then improving upon it where necessary.   And if you spend a lot of time sitting, this is one you’ll need.

For this drill, we’re going to go back to our last two drills, the bird-dog and the Reach Roll Lift.  From that quadruped position, you’re going to extend one leg out to the side.  Try to avoid moving the arms and hand to compensate for the different position.

Once you’re in position, rock the hips back towards the wall and less towards the heels.  You want to be able to maintain a straight spine throughout the movement.  Once you feel a slight stretch in the adductors and hamstrings, you can return to the starting position with your weight shifted over your hands.

With this drill, you want to do 8 reps per side to ensure that your hips are properly mobilized for your workout.  This exercise will definitely help improve next weeks mobility drill, the squat mobility.

Common Faults

  • Misaligning the hands
  • Lack of Core Bracing
  • Tucking the hips under
  • Bending the  Knees
  • Bending the Spine
  • Hands Too Close

 

Take it slow with each rep and only go as far as your mobility will allow you.


Recovery

One of the most overlooked aspects to your training and fitness goals is recovery.  You’re only as good as your ability to recover.  You push and push as hard as you want during your workouts, but if you’re not adding in proper recovery strategies, then your results will suffer.  Each successive workout will have a little less behind it, and sooner or later it is going to catch up to you.  This is why we tell our clients to take rest days to allow their bodies to rebuild.

Results don’t come during your training, they come from what you do outside of your training.  Nutrition, SLEEP, stress management, mobility, SMR, and massage are all part of the recovery process.

Nutrition

Make sure your nutrition plan is solid.  That means that 80-90% of your diet is made of of lean protein, lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.  Avoid striving for perfection, you’ll just drive yourself crazy.  But if you’re able to stay in that 80-90% range, you’ll be on point.

Good rule of thumb with each meal is to make sure there is at least one serving of protein and 2 servings of vegetables.  You can’t go wrong with that.  Nutrition also includes hydration, so make sure you are drinking plenty of water every day.

Sleep

In our busy lives, it seems that sleep takes less of priority than it should, which is a shame because our bodies CRAVE sleep.  The bulk of recovery occurs during restful sleep.  Muscles rebuild, soft tissue repairs itself, and the nervous system has a chance to recharge for the next day.

6-9 hours of sleep is a good place to start, with 6 being the bare minimum.  It would be better to see that number up around 7-8 hours, but life gets in the way, especially with kids and work schedules, so do your best.

Set yourself up with a nighttime routine so that you fall asleep with ease.  This means getting into a dark room, eliminating distracting lights like phones and tv.

Stress Management

Everyone has stressful lives, but managing that is the key.  Exercise is stressful on the body, which is why you want to take recovery days and not add to the stress you already have.  But life in general is full of stressors that test us. Come up with strategies to combat stress in order to keep sanity. This could mean a 5 minute meditation process where you just focus on breathing or writing in a journal.

Mobility, SMR, Massage

After all that, our muscles and soft tissue still need a little TLC.  Tense muscles still need attention whether its doing some self care or going to see a professional for a massage.  AMP has a foam rolling sequence for that very purpose, to aid in relieving some tense muscles.  It helps you feel good and move better.

 

Progress doesn’t come from how much you do, or how much you beat up your body.  It comes from how well you can recover.  If you’re not recovering, you’re not progressing.  So if you’re struggling to see results, try to avoid looking to add more to your routine till you reflect on how much recovery you’re doing.  Chances are you need LESS work, and MORE rest.


Wednesday Warm-up: Reach Roll Lift

Reach Roll Lift

Week 3 of our Warm-up review takes a look at the Reach-Roll-Lift.
Now while this drill may not look like it does much, or that it is too simple, the fact is that it can be a great exercise to loosen up the shoulders and improve mobility.  If we go back to week 1, the reason, among others for our warm-up  is to increase mobility where necessary.

Common Faults

  • No Core Bracing
  • Leaning your body with the arm
  • Simply turning the hand
  • Compensating body position to get arm up
  • Bending elbow

So how do we correct some of the common faults you may experience during this exercise?  Or that you may see.
As with all our warm-up drills, intent and focus is the name of the game.

During the REACH phase, concentrate on keeping the core braced and your weight over the hips and opposite shoulder.

During the ROLL phase, focus on turning the whole arm from the shoulder, paying careful attention to avoiding just flopping the hand over.  It’s easy to just turn the hand over, it takes a little more concentration to rotate from the shoulder.

Lastly, during the LIFT phase, lift from the shoulder, but only go as high as you can WHILE MAINTAINING FORM.  Avoid rotating the entire body to get the arm up higher.  Additionally, it is imperative that the arm remains straight.  As soon as you start to bend the elbow to get more range of motion, you’ve lost the exercise and any benefit to the shoulder.

 

 

Reach Roll Lift