It should seem obvious that the number one focus any of us should have whether we want to gain muscle, lose weight, or maintain it is to have full control of our range of motion. Ironically, so few of us actually do. In fact, quite the opposite. Rarely do most of us fully OWN our full range of motion when put under a load. This puts us at major risk for injury and leaves gains on the table.
Today I’d like to discuss 3 reasons why you need to incorporate mobility into your workouts.
Range of Motion
You will always make more gains and progress on an exercise working it through a full range of motion versus a partial range of motion. Think of a squat for example. A person doing a full range squat, will be able to fire the glutes, hamstrings, and quads a lot better than the person doing ¼ squats with heavier weight. They will have mostly left the hamstrings and glutes out of the movement comparatively speaking.
Using the same squat example above also shines light on the benefits of a compound exercise vs more isolated exercises. The squat is a somewhat complex movement to do with correct technique. It involves the ability to move your entire body from standing to a full squat without compensation in the low back, knees caving in, shoulders rolling forward, etc. Without a full range of motion, most people will not be able to perform this exercise correctly and thus miss out on a very beneficial compound exercise.
The bottom line is, by having access to a fuller range of motion, you have access to more exercises.
Activating Weaker Muscles
Along with wanting a fuller range of motion, we want to prevent injury, and have a well balanced body. When low back, or knee issues pop up, it is usually due to other muscles not doing their job properly. For example, if you are squatting, and your knees start to cave in, it may be due to your inability to fire your glute medius, and keeping the knees pushed out. If your low back starts to flex, it may be due to an inability to keep your upper back and core tight in an upright position.
Incorporating mobility into your workouts in this case would mean finding what specific issue you have and choosing a handful of priming exercises to do as a warm up for that day's workout. You could do 3 sets of a glute firing exercise like a hip bridge, in conjunction with some banded rows to cue keeping the shoulders blades pulled back. Now, when you go into your squat you’ve already spent time making the mind muscle connection to those areas allowing you to fire them during the squat itself.
Practice Makes Perfect
The key to all of this is not rushing and practicing being PERFECT. It isn’t like regular resistance training. In normal training, we try to add weight, and do more reps. We don’t want the focus to be adding weight on these exercises. We want to see how many reps we can perform perfectly. The session itself shouldn’t last more than 10-15 minutes. Find what areas needs focus, and choose bodyweight mobility drills that you can do 3 sets of 10-15 perfect reps on.
If you would like additional help with this check out my articles on the Best Mobility Exercises to Help Alleviate Back Pain and Priming Before and After Your Workouts.