Man, I write the cheesiest titles. Anyway:
Things that impress me in the gym:
People doing full squats
People doing deadlifts
People (especially women) doing chin-ups
People doing mobility drills
Things that do not impress me at the gym:
Dudebros using the squat rack for curls
Dudebros lifting up their shirts and flexing in the mirror
People who come up to me and tell me that deadlifting is bad for my back and that squats will mess up my knees.
Today I saw something that to the untrained eye, might look silly. It was a guy doing leg swings, which kind of looks like someone training to pee like a dog.
But I was impressed. Not because I’m envious of anything that can pee outside without sprinkling itself (actually I am–popping squats sucks), but because it’s a mobility drill. And the reason I was impressed is because learning about mobility takes a little bit of research. It’s not exactly on the forefront of fitness trends. Anyone who practices them has probably done some homework and knows that they’re really good for your joints, they help to prevent injury, and they improve your posture and your range of motion.
Mobility drills are the same thing as dynamic stretches, meaning that you are stretching while moving. It’s recommended that you do mobility work for your warm-up instead of static stretching, which is better post-workout. (1,
Here’s a functional application of how mobility drills can help you:
Let’s say you’re a woman who wears high heels a lot. Constantly having your ankle lifted like that shortens the Achilles tendon and calf muscles, restricting the range of motion. Doing ankle mobility drills will help lengthen them and prevent injuries.
If you work a desk job, your hips become tight from sitting so much, and your shoulders can slump forward. Doing mobility work can help to negate these effects and improve your posture.
I know it’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but just like walking, it’s a small thing that could make a big improvement in your life. Admittedly I don’t do mobility work as often as I should, but I’m working on changing that. I’m up to uuh…once a week now. What I like about it is that it’s easy, quick and it’s something you can do while watching TV if you so please. And if you are injury prone, then it’s a really good idea to do some mobility work. According to Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises, “Scientists believe that exercises known as dynamic stretches–what you might think of as calisthenics–appear to enhance communication between your mind and muscles, allowing you to achieve peak performance in the gym.” Even if you aren’t trying to pee like a dog.
Anyway, enough talk, more action! Here are some mobility drills you can do:
Wall slide – great for improving your posture and strengthening weak shoulders.
Thoracic rotation –(video) (photos) loosens a tight upper back and improves posture.
Bent-Over Reach to Sky – Enhances back mobility.
Over-Under Shoulder Stretch – Loosens your rotator cuff. VERY good for preventing shoulder injuries.
Elbow-to-foot lunge – Loosens your whole lower body.
Lying side leg raises – Loosens hip adductors and groin
Walking Leg Cradles – Loosens glutes and hamstrings
Ankle Flexion – For all you heel divas, this one loosens your ankles.
There’s a ton more you can do. I’d recommend doing these at least 3 times a week for 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps to really reap the benefits. Here are a few more links. Enjoy!