We’re so used to our childhood gym teachers taking us through a series of stretches as a warm up. But this is no bueno because static stretching actually affects our performance in a negative way. If your muscle are tight and there are knots, stretching would just tighten the knots and not address any actual issues.
A joint by joint approach is the fundamental for understanding the importance of mobility. Starting from the bottom up you need to understand:
Ankles = mobile, knees = stable, hips = mobile, low back = stable, thoracic = mobile, scapula = stable
If we understand this sequence, then you’ll realize if something that we know is meant to be stable gets injured, that means it’s trying to be mobile and make up for the lack of mobility where it NEEDS to be happening (i.e. low back gets f**ked up because our hips lack full range).
Every person is different and we all have tightness or lack of range of motion on some area of the body that’s being compensated elsewhere. What you need to do first is an assessment (such as MAPS Prime or Prime Pro). From that assessment, you can see what areas you lack sufficient range, and what areas you may be fine in. You can then create a proper prehab warmup and cool down program during your lifts to maximize increasing the range of motion YOU specifically lack and keeping the stable areas more stable.
Taking the group of muscles through an active range of motion in a cyclical fashion allows for temperature and fluid changes in the working tissues to increases the plasticity of the target areas. Everyone hears mobility drills and scoff at the idea thinking its an annoying 5-10 minutes on top of their unrealistic 2-3 hour workouts and they just don’t want to spend the time on it. It’s boring.
Well guess what. 1) Stop working out that long that’s called overkill. 2) You are an adult now. Put on your big boy/girl pants and consider your future. The gains are no good if you are getting injured all the time, and can’t even create the proper tension throughout the whole exercise pattern to stimulate the very muscle hypertrophy you are trying to achieve.
Mobility exercises are a beyond useful tool for allowing you to increase your years in the gym, skeletal muscle, and correct imbalances. Again, you WANT these results! I’ve taken two weeks off at the gym because I would get annoying low back injuries from squatting without proper warm up. My friend’s text me all the time “Yeah, been nursing this shoulder. It bugs me every time I bench, but screw it…I’ll just keep lifting”. You can’t grow if you’re always aching.
It’s good to choose 1-2 exercises for each area you lack range. Try this warm up out for 3 sets, 10-12 reps each (or 30 seconds each side).
Lower Body – Hips – 90/90 drill: allows you to constantly cue your hips and engage your core while working on the limits of your range of motion
Upper Body – Thoracic – Lizard with Rotation: activates glutes, hamstrings, and the lower body while also waking up the thoracic spine which is extremely tight on most of us allowing it to relearn its proper full range.
Upper Body – Shoulder girdle – Shoulder Dislocates: increases blood flow to the shoulder joint allowing better movement from front to back.
Once you’re done with your workout, THEN you can go through some stretches based off of what feels tight from that workout. Make sure to hold those stretches for 20-30 seconds each 3 rounds through.
By spending 5-10 minutes before and after your workout focusing on a handful of drills addressing that days movements, you can increase a better mind muscle connection, better recruitment patterns, and thus, bigger muscles in the gym. Stay on top of your shit!