MOBILITY CIRCUITS (mostly) FOR MEN

Your average male gym user has a variety of bio-mechanical inefficiencies that stop him being truly athletic. The most common movement issues for men include;

1.     Multiple serious flexibility issues; calf, hamstring, hip, thoracic spine, chest/shoulder

2.     Poor scapula control and forward shoulders

3.     Weak control of thoracic kyphosis during all squat and bend patterns

4.     Poor glute and glute medius activation

5.     Unstable knees

6.     Poor ankle mobility

 

Not solving these issues is how you can suffer regular niggles which could be easily avoided by working on mobility as a foundation of every training session.

 

For example; Poor spine alignment will often result in back pain for someone pushing their limits in training. (Mirbagheri, 2015) Imagine putting a heavy load on top of the example in type 3 or 4, shown in Figure 1 below. What would happen? Collapse. Unless the muscles around the spine work extra time to hold the structure up (this is where much back pain comes from) you have over-exerted supporting muscles trying to compensate for poor alignment. Remember if you’re type 3 or 4 you’re also weaker because of the mechanical inefficiency you are leaking strength like a split pipe every time you lift. Additionally, lack of shoulder stability leads to loss of strength and potential damage to tissue or tears when throwing. (Labriola, 2005) (Mihata, 2009)

  Figure 1: The shape of lumbar lordosis depends on SS orientation. (2011)

 

Figure 1: The shape of lumbar lordosis depends on SS orientation. (2011)

Fitting mobility in without losing intensity;

Let’s focus on your movement problems. We can add some quality movement work in to a functional HIIT circuit that you could perform at the end of your lifting sessions, or as a distinct HIIT session. If you include mobility with every workout you will gradually make changes without losing any time. If you warm up by doing 5 minutes of cardio then reallocate that time to something that can impacts your performance. You will notice an improvement in performance through improving your mobility.

 

This volume of movement work may not solve all your problems or fix injuries that have already happened, but it will loosen your movements for the weight training and cardio that is contributing to existing problems. If you can complete better aligned reps or strides through a longer range of motion you will optimise for strength, fat loss and performance.

 

Doing these exercises may open your eyes to some issues you weren’t aware of so be open minded; only you can benefit. If you want a professional eye on your movement patterns, ask a personal trainer, that’s what trainers are there for. Quite often you need to start at the beginning when strengthening muscles by correcting your alignment and mobility.

 

Dynamic vs. Static = no contest

When working on mobility in non-injury situations, dynamic stretching produces better outcomes for your mobility, also strength and power over static stretching. As a trainer we hardly use static stretching and the workout we’re about to give you contains none. (Calatayud, 2014)

 

On average, we look to get all of our clients completing daily mobility homework for 10 minutes to produce incremental increases in their movements. We find that this type of homework makes positive improvements and prevents injury, as clients are interested in the dynamic of the homework. Low exertion, non-sweaty homework tends to be completed by clients, over more physical homework. Sadly, a lot of people will only do movement homework once they are injured. If you open your eyes to your movements they could erase the problem at the pass AND improve performance.

 

A 2008 study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, studied whether the effects of adding a dynamic stretch warm-up for four weeks resulted in better long term performance. The results show, that it resulted in an overall better sports performance including, strength, endurance, speed and flexibility. (Herman, 2008) For your warm-up; foam rolling and trigger point therapy with balls are beneficial warm-up tools to use to enhance flexibility and increase you range of motion (ROM). (Junker, 2015) (Herman, 2008)

 

 

CIRCUITS FOR MOVEMENT: Follow these circuit combinations to tackle movement issues. 

 

 

5 MINUTES CIRCUIT WORKOUT: Go round these exercise twice for 45 second each, no rest. This is a no sweat circuit for the office/home:

 

    5 minute mobility circuit

    5 minute mobility circuit

    Breathing cogs

    Breathe in and lift the chest, as you do so tilt the head forward by tucking in the chin (don’t bend the neck forward, create a double chin). As this happens externally rotate your shoulders (turn your palms out) to exaggerate the chest up, shoulders down movement. Reverse it by breathing fully out, bringing the head back to level and internally rotating the shoulders as far as possible.

    TWY's

    Stand just off the wall close enough so you can touch fingernails against the wall without straining. Keeping muscles lightly engaged go through the 3 positions slowly, keeping fingernails in contact with the wall. Avoid arching back toward the wall, if you feel yourself doing that stand closer.

    3D chest stretch (Split the 45 seconds between 2 sides)

    Stand at a right angle to the wall. Place the palm of closest hand on the wall behind you slightly above shoulder height with a straight but soft elbow. Step the closest leg forward and across, away from the wall. If you want to add more stretch, at the same time as the above open the other arm out into the room with the palm facing forward.

     

    10 MINUTES CIRCUIT WORKOUT: Do this circuit twice 45 seconds per exercise with a 30 second rest. This is a warm up routine or quick finisher circuit:

      10 min mobility circuit

      10 min mobility circuit

      Lunge with a twist

      Lunge behind you placing the same hand to the floor next to the front foot. As you step rotate your chest towards the front knee, reaching high with a straight arm and following the hand with your eyes. Make sure your back stays long by lifting your chest.

      Squat and twist

      Sit down into as low a squat as you can do well. With a puffed chest reach down your shin as low as you can without rounding your back and grip it. Take the opposite hand out in a wide arc, rotating your trunk to follow it while the first hand anchors you. Keep your eye on the (open) hand as it rotates behind you. Pause for 3 secs and then slowly reverse the position.

      Lunge and tuck

      Take a long lunge slightly wider than usual. With control lower your upper body, put your hands on the floor inside the leg and try to bring your shoulder under the thigh wrapping the closest hand under the leg. 

      Lunge to kick

      Lunge behind you using your hands as a counterweight (right leg back, left hand back). Drive through the front leg, swinging the back leg through in front of your torso in one movement. Keep the knee fairly straight, again using the hands as a counterweight (right leg forward, left hand forward). Reverse the swing back to start position and repeat.

      3D chest stretch (Split the 45 seconds between 2 sides)

      Stand at a right angle to the wall. Place the palm of closest hand on the wall behind you slightly above shoulder height with a straight but soft elbow. Step the closest leg forward and across, away from the wall. If you want to add more stretch, at the same time as the above open the other arm out into the room with the palm facing forward.

      TWY

      Stand just off the wall close enough so you can touch fingernails against the wall without straining. Keeping muscles lightly engaged go through the 3 positions slowly, keeping fingernails in contact with the wall. Avoid arching back toward the wall, if you feel yourself doing that stand closer.

       

       

      20 MINUTES CIRCUIT WORKOUT: Do this circuit 3 times, 45 seconds per exercise, with a 60 second rest. This is a cardio challenging HIIT circuit so do it at a challenging intensity but keep technique tight:

        20min mobility circuit

        20min mobility circuit

        Lunge with a twist

        Lunge behind you placing the same hand to the floor next to the front foot. As you step rotate your chest towards the front knee, reaching high with a straight arm and following the hand with your eyes. Make sure your back stays long by lifting your chest.

        Squat and twist

        Sit down into as low a squat as you can do well. With a puffed chest reach down your shin as low as you can without rounding your back and grip it. Take the opposite hand out in a wide arc, rotating your trunk to follow it while the first hand anchors you. Keep your eye on the (open) hand as it rotates behind you. Pause for 3 secs and then slowly reverse the position.

        Lunge and tuck

        Take a long lunge slightly wider than usual. With control lower your upper body, put your hands on the floor inside the leg and try to bring your shoulder under the thigh wrapping the closest hand under the leg. 

        Lunge to kick

        Lunge behind you using your hands as a counterweight (right leg back, left hand back). Drive through the front leg, swinging the back leg through in front of your torso in one movement. Keep the knee fairly straight, again using the hands as a counterweight (right leg forward, left hand forward). Reverse the swing back to start position and repeat.

        Tacfit spinal twist

        Start in plank position. Bring one foot as far forward between your arms as you can without losing spinal alignment. Roll away from the bent leg and sit, keep twisting away from the leg, it should nestle against the straight leg, bent, sole flat on the floor, knee in the air. Prop the opposite elbow against the upright thigh and use it as a lever to push your torso further into the twist. After pausing for 3 seconds reverse the process back to a plank and repeat in the other side.

        Roll and reach

        From a seated position roll backwards keeping a rounded back. As you get to the top of the roll drive your hips powerfully forward, lifting the knees high and allowing the feet to drop. Round your back again as you begin to descend, rolling smoothly down to the ground. As you get close to the ground extend your legs in front of you in a wide position and allow your torso to drop between them, further extending the stretch as much as you wish by reaching forward.

        TWY

        Stand just off the wall close enough so you can touch fingernails against the wall without straining. Keeping muscles lightly engaged go through the 3 positions slowly, keeping fingernails in contact with the wall. Avoid arching back toward the wall, if you feel yourself doing that stand closer.

        Overhead squat

        Hold the bar slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Feet shoulder width apart. Raise the bar above your head as vertically as possible and squat slowly as if you're sitting back on a bench. Repeat this for 3 squats.

         

        For further information on the importance of correct movement and mobility, please refer to the following links for extra reading:

        • www.mobilitywod.com
        • www.functionalmovement.com

         

         

        REFERENCES

         

         

        1. 1. Figure 1: ‘The shape of lumbar lordosis depends on SS orientation.(2011) At: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3175914/figure/Fig4/ (Accessed 16 September 2015)
        2. Mirbagheri, SS., et al. (2015) ‘Evaluating Kyphosis and Lordosis in Students by Using a Flexible Ruler and Their Relationship with Severity and Frequency of Thoracic and Lumbar Pain’, Asian Spine Journal, 9(3):416-422
        3. Labriola, JE., et al. (2005) ‘Stability and instability of the glenohumeral joint: the role of shoulder muscles’, Journal of Elbow and Shoulder Surgery, 14(1 Suppl A):32S-38S 
        4. Mihata, T., et al. (2009) ‘Effect of rotator cuff muscle imbalance on forceful internal impingement and peel-back of the superior labrum: a cadaveric study’, The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 37(11):2222-2227.
        5. Escamilla, RF., et al. (2009) ‘Shoulder muscle activity and function in common shoulder rehabilitation exercises’, Sports Medicine (Auckland, NZ), 39(8):663-685. 
        6. Poliquin Group (2012) How to Train Around an Injury: Shoulders, Available from: http://www.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/954/How_to_Train_Around_an_Injury_Shoulders.aspx (Accessed 16 September 2015)
        7. Calatayud, J., et al. (2014) ‘Muscle activity levels in upper-body push exercises with different loads and stability conditions’, The Physician and Sports Medicine, 42(4):106-119.
        8.  Herman, SL., et al. (2008) ‘Four-Week Dynamic Stretching Warm-up Intervention Elicits Longer-Term Performance Benefits’, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22(4):1286-1297 
        9. Junker, D, Stöggl, T. (2015) ‘The foam roll as a tool to improve hamstring flexibility’, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Available from: http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/publishahead/The_foam_roll_as_a_tool_to_improve_hamstring.96886.aspx (Accessed 16 September 2015) 
        10. Healey, KC., et al. (2014) ‘The Effects of Myofascial Release With Foam Rolling on Performance’, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(1):61-68.
        11. Poliquin Group. (2014) The Six Dos and Don’ts of Bodyweight Training. Available from: http://www.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/1210/The_Six_Dos_and_Donts_of_Bodyweight_Training.aspx (Accessed 16 September 2015)
        James Hardy