Hip Mobility and Flexibility Exercises
I know you're all about the big movements - rows, pull-ups, squats - but there's a subtle power in the small things. It's time for you to embrace that power. Today's program features a variety of mobility and flexibility exercises that target the most common problem areas - the hip and the upper back/shoulder complex. And for those that claim no flexibility or mobility issues, there's a quick full body dynamic warmup.
Warmup A: Hip Focus
1) Seated 90/90 Stretch x10 seconds/side: m.youtube.com/watch?v=YSQEZ_si6-U
This hip mobility movement is designed to increase range of motion of the external rotators. Take a seat on a bench (or any platform of similar height) and pull one foot up to rest on your other thigh. Use one hand to gently push your knee down and the other hand to pull your foot up. You should feel this along the hip/glute line.
2) Over/Under x5/side: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Uz5Xek0nBek
More hip mobility! In a squat rack, set one of the safety supports to hip height and one to cheat height (you may need to adjust this to your own height). Lift one leg up and over the lower height, and then lift the other leg over. Now, squat and slide under the higher support. Make sure your hips are doing the bulk of the work.
3) Warrior Lunge Stretch x10 seconds/side: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cY0bWj9Lzu0
Use this stretch to target your hip flexors. Start in a lunge position with head up and chest out. Next, raise your hands above your head and push your hips forward. Hold this position - you should feel a stretch along the hip of the back leg. Be careful not to arch your back or lean too far forward.
4) Leg Swing x8/side: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6LUeL-oZROU
Another exactly as it sounds hip mobility movement. Holding a wall for support, swing your leg at a diagonal angle, front to back. Allow a slight bend at the knee to ensure that you're getting plenty of movement at the hip. You may feel a slight stretch in your hamstring if they're particularly tight, but that's a good thing.
Warmup B: Upper Focus
1) Thoracic Mobility x5-10: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lTP2TDdMHoY
The lumbar spine may place the biggest focus on stability, but the thoracic spine doesn't. Grab a foam roller, sit down on the floor, and place it horizontally along the lowest part of your thoracic spine. Keep your feet flat on the floor and knees bent, almost like you're about to do a sit-up. Now, place your hands behind your head, pull your elbows together, and slowly extend backward. Hold at the end position, then crunch upward. Repeat this movement along the entire length of your thoracic spine by moving the foam roller upward in small increments.
2) Wall Slide x8: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=N73AnUp3m2w
This is all about keeping your rotators happy. Stand in front of a wall with your upper back, head, and butt touching it. Walk your feet out from the wall - about two foot lengths. Start with both arms overhead in a V, hands and elbows touching the wall. Slowly pull your arms down as far as possible without losing contact with the wall. Pause briefly in the lowest position, then slide back up and repeat.
3) Scap Pushup x8: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iY9Vuo27pCs
Use this movement to build scapular stability. Start in a pushup position. Keeping your elbows nearly locked, allow your torso to sink toward the floor by pulling your shoulder blades back. Next, push your shoulder blades up - your upper back will look slightly hunched. Return to the start and repeat.
4) Upper Trap Stretch x15 seconds/side: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MJea4IlkXqo
This is the poor man's upper back massage. Stand upright and place your left hand just below your scapula. Now, place your right hand on top of your head. Brace your core, pull your shoulder blades down and back, and gently pull your head down and to the right. You should feel a stretch along your upper traps and neck. Repeat on the opposite side.
Warmup C: Full Body
1) Inch Worm x5: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TPvAZNmzc2w
This combo movement focuses on hamstring and calf flexibility, as well as shoulder and thoracic mobility. From a standing position, place both hands on the floor, just in front of your feet. Keeping your legs as straight as possible, slowly walk your hands forward until you're in a pushup position. Now, walk your hands back toward your feet and return to the standing position.
2) Toy Soldier 8/side: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DVpM31SRia0
Similar to the leg swings, you don't need to lock your legs - this is more about mobility than flexibility. Kick one leg up and touch your toes (well, try to) with the opposite hand. Alternate sides and allow yourself to step forward with each kick. Focus on getting good movement at the hip joint - the stretch along the back of your leg is secondary.
3) Bird Dog 8/side: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wgOuR7YrwtM
It's time to get your glutes working. Start in a quadruped position, hands below shoulders and knees below hips. Brace your core. Now, squeeze your right glute to extend your right leg, while raising your left arm in front of you at the same time. Hold briefly, then return to the start and repeat on the opposite side. Make sure you feel your glutes activating and don't allow any hip or lower back movement.
4) Rocking Ankle, 8/side: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ieJBm7X_PMQ
Ankle flexibility comes into play on a daily basis, but is rarely trained in the gym. Start in a pike position - basically, pushup position with your butt higher than head and feet. Place the toes of one foot along the back of your other foot. Push down with the top foot until the bottom heel touches the floor, hold briefly, then rock back up. You may have to adjust a few times to find the best position. Repeat on the opposite side.
What You Need To Know: There's not much to this explanation. Each of these movements is relatively low-intensity, and all twelve can be combined to form a warmup session. For those with specific problem areas, use the specific warmup. If you feel good all around, crank out a quick set of the full body warmup and you'll be good to go. Remember, these are my warmups. Take your time, focus on quality movement, and perform only one set.