If I had to rank the importance of mobility in any training program it would be at the very top. However, if I had to rate the ‘sexiness’ of mobility drills it would be at the very bottom. Like most things in life what we need isn’t always what we want. The best analogy I can give you would be to compare mobility exercises to eating your vegetables. Eat your veggies and you can have your steak. Do your mobility drills and you can lift weights all day.
With so many mobility drills and stretches out there it’s very difficult to figure out which ones are necessary. In the end, many of us skip them and risk injury, compromise our movement patterns, and hinder training progress. Below are my TOP 5 mobility drills and which exercises they improve in your workouts.
1. Bretzel 1.0
- This mobility drill focuses on movement patterns rather than specific muscle groups. However, the muscles enhanced by this drill include the pecs, abs, quads, and hip flexors. You have to love a mobility drill that hits many muscles at once.
How to perform: Focus on keep both legs on the ground as you twist your torso to the rear. Keep torso as upright as possible. Hold this position for 10-15 BREATHES (inhale/exhale count as 1 breathe). Breathe through your belly, not your chest. Perform a 2 count inhale followed by a 4 count exhale.
2. Bretzel 2.0
- Similar to the Bretzel 1.0 the Bretzel 2.0 focuses on improving movements patterns rather than specific muscles groups. Muscles improved include the lats, glutes, hamstrings, and IT band.
How to perform: Focus on keeping the top knee on the ground while twisting your chest to the ceiling as you pull your other leg to the floor. Hold this position for 10-15 BREATHES (inhale/exhale count as 1 breathe). Breathe through your belly, not your chest. Perform a 2 count inhale followed by a 4 count exhale.
Note: Use an abmat as a pillow to keep your neck aligned. If you can’t reach your foot, use a towel or band until your mobility improves.
3. Kettlebell TGU Armbar
- This mobility drill is a MUST for anyone with rounded shoulders, tight pecs, and limited overhead ROM (range of motion). The first version is the beginner friendly variation. Use a spotter for the advanced version (this will end very BADLY if you’re reckless).
(beginner version) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDMVif1RphY&list=UUfM4Ss6i2igy6KAMyCwqhGQ
(advanced version) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ce3QLNJAg8U&list=UUfM4Ss6i2igy6KAMyCwqhGQ
How to perform: Once the kettlebell is over your chest gradually bring your same side leg across your body. Use your opposite arm as a pillow if you need to. Continue twisting your torso until you’re facing the floor and straighten your leg.
Note: Only go as far as you’re a capable. You will gradually improve and face the floor.
4. Banded Hamstring Distraction
- The title says it all. We’re trying to improve our hamstring mobility. If your hamstrings are tight then most hinging patterns (ex. deadlift, RDL, lunges) will be problematic.
How to perform: Focus on pressing your lead leg into the ground so your HIPS push up to the ceiling (don’t rock backwards). Hold for 2-3 sec. then bend your lead leg to relieve tension. Repeat for 1-2 min. per leg.
5. Banded Ankle Distraction
- Banded Ankle Distraction: Ankles are arguably the most underrated joints that require mobility. The biggest benefactor of mobile ankles will be your squat and pistol (one leg squat).
How to perform: Place the band around your lead ankle and push your knee past your toes. Hold for 2-3 sec. then move your knee back to to relieve tension. Repeat for 1-2 min. per ankle.
Ideally, you would perform all of these drills before every workout. If you’re pressed for time perform one of the Bretzel variations and either the TGU Armbar (upper body workout) or Hamstring/Ankle distraction drills (lower body workout).
– Joshua Jarmin