Mobility: The Daily Practice You Truly Need

Let’s talk about mobility. Just like lifting weights, mobility is a practice that you can only improve over time. The keys to focus on are stretching opposing muscle groups, opening up the chest, and working on overhead mobility.

Do you actually need to do mobility training to succeed in the gym? Is it essential for your life to have the same range of motion in your shoulders and hips as a professional sprinter or bodybuilder? For most people, I would say no. However, that doesn’t mean you should skip mobility training altogether. It simply means that you can adjust your expectations, especially when you’re just starting out.

Think of it this way: there are three basic pillars of a healthy body—cardiovascular health, muscular strength, and joint mobility. We humans have some of the most hypermobile joints in the animal kingdom, particularly in our arms. This wide range of motion in our hips, spines, and shoulders means there’s work to be done to fully utilize our body’s capabilities. The more mobile a joint is, the more muscle tissue it can support, leading to a healthier look and reduced risk of injury.

Let’s take the hamstrings as an example. Most people have limited hamstring mobility. Ideally, the human body should be able to fold in half while standing, allowing you to touch your rib cage to your knees with minimal spine flexion. However, a significant portion of the population can’t even touch their toes, indicating a lack of hamstring mobility and the strength and power that come with it. While you don’t need to fold in half perfectly, you should be able to at least reach your fingers or palms to the floor without extensive warm-up.

So, is mobility important? Absolutely! Being able to touch your toes, rotate your spine while seated, and move your arms in a full circle are all excellent markers of mobility. But remember, you don’t need the joint mobility of an Olympic gymnast. Mobility is something that develops alongside strength training. You can work on your range of motion while getting stronger. For instance, my clients often start by doing isometric hamstring stretches and gradually progress to Romanian deadlifts with lower weight and higher range of motion. Over time, they build hamstring length and effortlessly touch the floor with their palms while handling heavy loads.

In conclusion, focus on incorporating mobility exercises into your fitness routine. It’s not about achieving extreme flexibility but rather about improving your range of motion, preventing injuries, and unlocking your body’s full potential.