So many of us complain we just don’t have the time, or don’t spend enough time, working on our mobility and hence we’re not flexible. Whatever your restrictions, whether they’re limited squat depth, lack of toe touching, poor overhead mobility or a lack of shoulder external rotation, there really is no excuse for not finding the time now.
In this post I will share with you a simple way of getting mobility training in that doesn’t compromise strength gains, or leave you feeling bored and unmotivated.
Something I’ve been working on lately is combining upper body strength work with lower body mobility work and vice versa. Now this is nothing new; people have used this combination all over the place but what’s most common is the strength work is all done and then the mobility work follows.
I prefer using my long rest periods (usually 2-4 minutes with proper strength training) to do a little productive mobility work. This will only be a 30-45 second squat hold each set. I’m not holding a deep squat for the entirety of the 3 minute rest period. If you do long stretches or mobility drills, they can detract from the recovery aspect of the rest periods.
Mathematically, if you work this out over an average 8-12 set strength workout, you’ll get anywhere from 4-6 minutes of extra mobility work (while you’re warm!) each session. Let’s assume you train 3 times per week……this equates to 12-18 minutes per week – more if you train more frequently. If we go on a larger scale – monthly – this equation becomes 48-72 minutes! Which is a good hour that you’ll hardly notice as it will be in short spurts and keep you occupied in rest periods.
Here are some nice little combinations I’ve come up with off the cuff to show you how you could put this into practice…….
- Weighted squats & chest/shoulder stretching
- Leg Pressing & overhead mobility work (lats and pec stretching)
- Pull ups & deep squat holds (with or without assistance)
- Dips & pike fold practice (hamstrings focus)
Note: These are JUST examples and can be done in any real combo, whether you train with or without weights. The key principle is keeping the upper/lower combo. If you were to stretch legs while training legs, you risk decreasing your performance. Same goes for upper body. Stretch areas you’re not working within that session.
Will this approach be enough to get me where I want to be?
It all depends on where you are now and where you want to go, but one thing’s for sure: It will improve your flexibility by the laws of accumulation and repeated efforts. If your goal is an aggressive flexibility one like splits or an advanced thoracic bridge, you may need more specific training. Remember: specificity is key when it comes to advanced goals.
This approach will work well for the person aware of a mobility restriction, that wants to improve it but doesn’t ever feel motivated and doesn’t like pure mobility training, which can be very boring.
Why do I need to do this? I just want to be strong and swole, man?!
Have you ever noticed some of the best athletes, both in terms of strength and physical development, are also some of the most mobile? That’s because flexibility and strength are a paramount combination for athletic performance. If you need convincing further, read: How Flexibility Makes Calisthenics Easier
Even if you’re not bothered about performance and just want to look good, looking good comes with a healthy posture and a degree of balance throughout your body. I know you want to impress these girls but any girl worth having will value more than just the size of your pecs and arms.
Stay mobile, stay healthy, stay happy.
Do you train directly for flexibility? If so, how? Do you go to yoga classes or do your own routines?
The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.