Flexibility with control
Mobility is the body’s ability to actively move our joints through the intended range of motion. Simply put, it’s flexibility with control. Aside from the obvious benefits of feeling better and recovering, you should do so as your range of motion increases.
Here’s the kicker: your lack of mobility leads to lack of profits. More freedom of movement means more time under tension.
With better mobility, your muscles work through larger eccentric and concentric phases. A muscle that trains across its entire range of motion has a greater chance of breaking down and rebuilding more than a muscle that only works over half of its range of motion.
To achieve an optimal squat depth (femur at least parallel to the floor), you need mobility in three main areas:
- Thoracic spine / shoulders
Here is an example of a good squat depth:
Ankle mobility exercises
Dorsiflexion is your ankle’s ability to bend – remember to bring your toes back towards your shin.
You need mobility in the ankles to reach the squat depth because you have to “root” your feet on the floor when squatting (heels down). Otherwise, your heels will lift off the floor and your knees will push forward excessively. Goodbye glute gains, hello patellar tendinitis.
Tipping: You will see that I wear shoes (fitness rules) in the videos, but I recommend removing them if possible if you are working on your ankle mobility.
1. Increased Banded Dorsiflexion
Place a mobility band at knee level with a box or bench in front of you around the squat rig. With the same foot on top of the box, place the tape around the back of your foot.
Push your knee forward as far as possible while holding a flat foot (the heel must not come up).
Hold for 1-2 minutes per side.
2. Active banded dorsiflexion (2 drills)
Have a ribbon with a box or bench in front of you around the bottom of a squat rig.
For the first drill – wrap the band around the front instep of your foot and stand slightly in front of you with your other foot. Then perform active ankle flexions for 30-60 seconds by pushing your knee forward and back while keeping a flat foot.
For the second drill – wrap the band around the front of the foot and do a reverse lunge with the other leg. As you descend, push your front knee forward over your toes while maintaining a flat foot.
Do 10-15 on each side.
Hip mobility sequence
Try this quick hip opener sequence before and after training on your lower body:
If you use this routine as part of your warm-up, cut the recommended times shown in the video in half and do some soft tissue work beforehand (e.g. foam rolls).
Otherwise, follow the recommended times in the video for your post-workout cooldown and your active recovery routine.
“Thoracic spine” is a fancy term for your upper back. And most people (possibly you) have terrible upper back mobility.
Your upper back needs to be strong enough to support the bar and flexible enough to expand and maintain good positioning. It is never a good thing
Go to your knees with your elbows on the bench. Put your hands behind your head with your fingers crossed. Your knees should stay on the floor and your elbows on the bench.
Keep your ribs down and your lower back flat, take a deep breath through your stomach and push your chest to the floor. You should feel a stretch in your upper back.
Press and hold the button for 30-60 seconds when using it to warm up. Hold for 2 minutes within your cooldown.
Related topics: How to improve squat mobility and stability
Related: Improving ankle mobility