Looking to improve your performance, optimize your recovery, and prevent injury? The secret may be simple — it’s called mobility training. You’ve probably been told to add some mobility work into your exercise regime (and rightfully so, as it’s one of the most important components to preventing injury and achieving long-term results!). But, you may be reading this wondering, what is mobility training, in the first place? Is it a few minutes of foam rolling? A yoga class or post-workout stretch? Loosening sore muscles with a massage gun? All of the above?
If you’re confused as to how to get started, you’re not alone. But, we’re here to answer all your questions! Find out the benefits of mobility training and how to implement it into your exercise routine — beyond your basic stretches. Ahead, we’re breaking down a simple step-by-step mobility technique and sample exercises that will make implementing this technique a breeze. With these simple tips, optimize your performance and continue making strides toward your fitness goals!
What is Mobility Training
The term mobility is used a LOT. So, what is mobility training?
While you may confuse mobility with flexibility or stretching, there’s more to it than that! Flexibility and stretching involve lengthening your muscles, while mobility takes it one step further. Mobility training optimizes movement and performance by increasing the range of motion within your joints and surrounding muscles. When you’re more mobile, you can train harder, recover faster, and perform better!
The Health Benefits of Mobility Training
The benefits of mobility training are wide-ranging, helping with everything from pain and muscle soreness to form and strength. Here are some of the reasons why you’ll want to incorporate it into your routine.
Reduce Risk of Injury
Avoid unwanted time out of your fitness routine! A lack of mobility training has been shown to increase the risk of injury, while studies show a reduced risk of injury with the implementation of dynamic stretching (a form of mobility training).
Research suggests mobility exercises help to activate key muscles prior to a workout (that would otherwise remain “turned off”). Think about a booty workout, for example. If you want those booty gains, you need to get your gluteal muscles firing and increase the range of motion in your muscles and joints!
Increase Strength and Power
Mobility training can improve posture, form, and technique, leading to increased strength and power during exercise. When your body is fully mobile, you’re better able to utilize your muscles and optimize your training.
If you have a sedentary desk job or are guilty of looking down at your phone 24/7 (while scrolling through social media), listen up! Mobility training helps to improve posture by increasing flexibility in stiff, tight muscles that affect your spine’s alignment.
How to Do Mobility Training
If you’re wondering how to implement mobility training into your exercise routine, start by incorporating these three steps into your warm-up!
Step One: Myofascial Release
Start your workout with myofascial release to warm up and activate your muscles. This could be with a massage gun, a foam roller, or with a lacrosse ball to massage local areas. In addition to improving circulation and flushing out toxins, myofascial release has been shown to increase range of motion while reducing post-workout fatigue and soreness!
Step Two: Dynamic Stretching
We all know the importance of warming up pre-workout, but how many of us actually do it? Don’t worry — we’re guilty too! While you may be tempted to jump straight into your workout, dedicating a mere five minutes to dynamic stretching can prime your muscles for movement and reduce the risk of injury. Different from passive stretching, which involves holding a fixed position for a period of time, dynamic stretching involves active movements that move your muscles and joints through a full range of motion (such as lunge with a twist or butt kickers).
Step Three: Body Weight Exercises
Finally, finish your mobility training with a brief set of bodyweight exercises. The exercises you choose will be dependent upon the muscle group you’re training. The idea is to prime the muscles you’re going to be moving in order to optimize your performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Planning on a leg or booty workout? Start with bodyweight air squats or glute bridges! Is it an arm day? Begin with some push-ups.
Here are some mobility training exercises to add to your workout routine.
Examples of Mobility Exercises
Shoulder Mobility: Standing Arm Circles
Start by standing upright with your arms at your sides. Maintaining an engaged core, swing your arms forward toward the ceiling, slowly rotating your arms in a circular motion. Continue this movement for 10-12 reps, then repeat in the opposite direction.
Lower Body Mobility: Walking Lunges with Rotation
With feet at shoulders-width distance, start by stepping your right foot forward into a basic lunge position, maintaining proper alignment. Keeping your core engaged, extend your arms forward and rotate your upper body and arms toward the right. Slowly rotate your body back to center, stepping back to starting position as you lower your arms by your side. Repeat 10-12 reps on each side.
Hip Mobility: Mountain Climbers
Start in a plank position with your hands stacked directly under your shoulders. Keeping your core engaged, bring your right knee into your chest without letting your leg touch the floor. Return your right foot to starting position, and repeat on the left side. Continue this movement for 10-12 reps on each side.
Hamstring Mobility: Butt Kicks
Start with your feet hips with distance apart, and your hands by your side. Slowly kick your right heel to your right glute, bending your left arm forward at a 90-degree angle. Slowly lower your right leg toward the ground and left arm down, switching sides. Continuing this jogging-in-place motion for 30-60 seconds.
Must-Try Mobility Workouts
From morning mobility flows to joint-specific movements, these FitOn Mobility workouts will help you feel loose and ready to move!
This 12-minute mobility flow with Caroline Pearce will target your entire body from wrists to feet. Whether you use this flow as your pre-workout warm-up or enjoy it as a recovery day stretch, prepare to improve your range of motion in a simple and easy way.
Tired of walking around with a tense neck and tight traps? Dr. Kelly Starrett from The Ready State will help alleviate your discomfort with a 15-minute routine. Open up your chest and release upper body tension with this guided flow! All you need is a therapy ball and yoga mat.
If you work a sedentary 9-5, you’re probably all too familiar with the lower back discomfort that comes with the job. While increasing your movement throughout the day can help, sometimes you need some isolated mobility work. In this 20-minute guided routine, Dr. Kelly Starrett from The Ready State will teach you how to mobilize your trunk and alleviate low back pain. Grab a mat, therapy ball, and foam roller!
The weather is warming up which means one thing — running season is here! If you’re taking your workouts outdoors, you may find yourself experiencing calf soreness or shin splints (one of the most common running injuries). Whether you’re taking preemptive measures to avoid injury or tending to tissue discomfort, this calf and shin mobility workout with Dr. Kelly Starrett from The Ready State can help soothe those muscles.
From squats and lunges to running and biking, healthy knees are a workout must. In less than 15 minutes, Dr. Jen Fraboni will take you through a simple mobility routine that will help reduce knee pain and tension and alleviate any discomfort and pressure.
Adding Mobility Training To Your Fitness Routine
Ready to achieve peak performance and hit your fitness goals? FitOn makes it easy to prioritize mobility training with fun ways to incorporate it into your everyday fitness routine. Before you sweat it out, start with a FitOn bodyweight workout, a dynamic stretch, or a mobility class to prime your muscles and get your blood pumping! Plus, yoga is a great way to incorporate mobility training beyond your basic warm-up.
Another way to incorporate mobility training into your fitness routine is on your rest days. So on your next day off, consider opening the FitOn app and stream a mobility workout! Your muscles will thank you.