If you want to be strong, move well and prevent injuries, you need to be mobile in certain areas and have strength and stability in others. Neglecting the smaller muscle groups and stabilizers and/or not doing mobility work will only lead to trouble in the long run.
Mobility is the one thing many people tend to slack on. When planning your workouts, you should take this into consideration by adding in some mobility exercises into your warm-up, or between exercises as fillers and also focus on strengthening the smaller muscle groups that tend to be weak and neglected. For most people, it’s hips and shoulders that need mobility and glutes, rear deltoids and rotator muscles that need to be strengthened.
Here are five exercises that can be done on a daily basis, either in your warm-ups before lifting, or as a circuit on a rest day. These are not the most fun or exciting movements, but doing these simple exercises daily can make a big difference in the long run.
Spiderman stretch w/reach
This is a great dynamic movement for hip mobility. It stretches the hip flexors, hamstrings, and addductors (inner thigh muscles). Make sure you bring your foot up to the OUTSIDE of your arm and hold for a second in the top position, while reaching for the ceiling with the inside arm. Do 3 sets of 5-8 on each side.
Most people also have weak glutes and tight hip flexors from sitting too much, and even if you don’t, doing some glute activation exercises throughout the day definitely won’t hurt you. Plus, having strong glutes can prevent back pain, and you also get the benefit of stretching the hip flexors at the same time.
As you do these, make sure to keep you core tight, ribs down, don’t arch the lower back, and squeeze those glutes hard. Pause a second or two at the top position. Aim for 2-3 sets of 15 reps. You can also do single leg bridges or glute marches for more of a challenge.
Deep squat hold
Sitting in a deep squat position is great for stretching the hips, glutes, hamstrings, and adductors. You can also add in a reach to improve thoracic(upper spine) mobility. Make sure to keep the chest up and heels down on the ground. You also want to try to push the knees apart with your elbows. If you can’t get into a deep squat position yet, you can hold on to something to help you. Hold in this position for 30-60 seconds, or even longer if you can!
Pull-aparts/wall slides/prone Ts
Most people spend too much time hunched over a computer screen or phone all day, which often leads to tight pecs and shoulders along with weak back and rear delt muscles. This can eventually lead to rounded shoulders, forward head posture, and the “hunchback” appearance.
Doing pull-aparts with a band will strengthen your traps, rhomboids, and rear delts for strong, bullet-proof shoulders, which is important to prevent injures and improve posture. Make sure not to speed through these. Keep your ribs down and try to keep the shoulder blades protracted. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps throughout the day.
If you don’t have a band, wall slides are great for strengthening the lower and mid traps and improving scapular mobility, all of which keep the shoulders healthy. Make sure to keep the hands and forearms against the wall and keep the ribs locked down. Do 2-3 sets of 8-10.
Prone Ts are another great exercise to do daily for the scapula stabilizers and rotator cuff muscles. Hold for 3 seconds at the top, and aim for 10-15 repetitions.
Thoracic Extension Rotations
These are great for people who sit hunched over at a desk all day, or for anyone with rounded shoulders. Poor thoracic(upper spine) mobility can lead to neck, back, and shoulder pain. Do 2 sets of 8-10 each side. Make sure the movement is only coming from the upper back, not the lower back!