Michael Grogan is a Personal Trainer/Movement Coach in Melbourne CBD & Clifton Hill, Australia. He uses a combination of Gymnastic Strength, Advanced Mobility and Barbell Strength & Power exercises to achieve increased levels of performance and body composition with his clients. For more information follow him on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michaelgrogan_movement/ facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelGroganMovement and for enquiries contact [email protected]
I used to train with a more experienced lifting bro. This guy was a serious beast and when we trained together, to make sure that I was taking it seriously, he used to insist on a start time of 5am.
I flopped out of bed on training day at 4:50am, headed to the gym and sighted my lifting bro, who already on the gym mat’s getting prepared. As I wandered over to him I noticed 2 things; firstly, he had a disapproving look on his face, probably because I had arrived on time and not 15min early like him, the second, he was vigorously doing a warm up routine that seemed to involve stretching. The following dialogue that ensued, was not what I needed for my brain at 5 o’clock in the morning, but it went something like this:
Me: “Hey bro, Oh great you are stretching? I need to work on my flexibility too”
Serious Lifting Bro: “I am doing mobility”
Me: “Yes, I know, I need to get more flexibility too”
Serious Lifting Bro: “I said I am doing mobility, we can work on flexibility after”
Me: “WTF bro, I was agreeing with you – I need to get flexible so I’ll stretch with you now”
Serious Lifting Bro: “Flexibility and mobility are not the same”
Me: “What are you talking about? You’re crazy”
Serious Lifting Bro: “If you don’t stop talking I am not going to train with you”
Me: “This is Madness!”
And that is the story of how I learnt that flexibility and mobility were 2 different concepts – I know this is a lot to take in, but we will get through this, just like I did at 5am that day.
What I intend to do with this article is identify the key differences between flexibility and mobility and provide some examples of mobility drills for some of the key lifts.
C’mon mate, get to the point: What is the difference between them?
Alright, lets get down to business:
Flexibility is a particular muscle’s ability to flex, bend or circumduct through its full range of motion. Basically, how long a muscle is.
Mobility, is a joint’s ability to move through it’s full range of motion, with control.
· Mobility is based on active movement whereas flexibility is usually a static hold using gravity and passive forces.
· Mobility requires strength to produce full range movement
· Flexibility is passive and does not require any strength.
Traditional stretching helps improve static (non movement) flexibility. Therefore they do not do a good job at preparing your body for a more intense training session or a session where your body is required to move quickly and efficiently like a sprint or a compound lifting session.
Dynamic mobility exercises prepare your body for more intense movements so you will be adequately prepared for that big lifting sesh with your bro or kicking the footy with the lads on the weekend.
Mobility exercises work by circulating synovial fluid into the bursa which ‘washes the joint’ and seeing as there is no direct blood supply to joints, they are nourished by this fluid as it washes away waste products, joint salts, calcium deposits – when performed correctly; mobility exercises can restore complete freedom of movement to joints.
Now that you know the benefits of performing Mobility Drills prior to your workout (as opposed to flexibility movements) I have identified 3 key mobility drills for the 3 big lifts: Squat, Deadlift and Bench Press.
1. Mobility Drill for the Squat: Sissy Squat
Get on the Sissy Squat! Performing this movement will help mobilize a number of areas in the body that will prepare you for that big barbell back squat. You will gain mobility through the whole spine, hip flexors and quads. This is a fantastic exercise to open your quads and get them firing before you lift.
You will be able to star in the next matrix sequel with your new sissy squat tekkers!
N.b if there was to be another Matrix Sequel it would be a terrible idea as that concept and movie series has been done to death.
2. Mobility Drill for Deadlift: Jefferson Curl
Time to get on the Jefferson train! This is the reverse of the sissy squat. It will mobilize through out your whole posterior chain including your spine, hamstrings, lower back and calves. When you add weight to this exercise you will also be required to activate your core in order to control the movement therefore also providing strength to that area.
Is the struggle real when you are asked to touch your toes? Then its time to Jefferson Curl your way to victory! The weight of the kettlebell will mobilize the key muscle groups that will allow you to touch your toes with ease (with straight legs of course).
3. Mobility Drill for Bench Press: Skin the Cat
Time to Skin that Cat! The ultimate mobilizer for the anterior portion of your shoulder. This is fantastic for your our bodies as it opens the ‘hunched’ part of our shoulders and can make significant gains in posture correction. This is ideal preparation for your bench or overhead pressing movements and prepare you to smash your PR’s.
Skin the cat requires a few pre-requisites by way of core and arm strength so if it is not for you at the moment the banded shoulder stretch provides a similar benefit.
How cool is it to fly upside down on the rings and realise your childhood gymnast dreams – or is that just me?
There it is, you now know the difference between mobility and flexibility. This article was geared more around the benefits and uses for mobility but it is important to note that static stretching (flexibility) work has its place, usually at the end of workouts where you can lengthen the muscle to restore tissue length and prevent long term injury. Joint mobility drills are best used at the start of the workout to prepare you for that big sesh.
For all those wanting help with their Mobility drills please get in touch: [email protected]
Michael Grogan – Trainer/Movement Coach at Michael Grogan Movement Melbourne CBD & Clifton Hill. Australia.
Some content from this article was adapted from:
Mikki Reilly, BA, MFS, of FitnessTransform. Visit her web site, www.fitnesstransform.com, where you’ll find online personalized training programs, as well as a wealth of news, information and tips that will help you transform your health, fitness and overall quality of life.
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