Do simple drills get you mobile?

Scrolling through your Instagram feed can offer you inspiration for your everyday workouts and this abundance of exercise selection will offer you a nice dose of variety. But how much variety should you be putting into Steve’s workout? Is there such a thing as too much variety and complexity for our everyday clients?

At work, it can feel like a competition between trainers on who has the latest and greatest mobility exercise to drop into a warm up. But are these Instagram worthy exercises creating mobility or creating a problem?

Great mobility drills are ones which can be used frequently with minimal equipment and applied in almost any setting (team, individual, limited space, non-age specific) and done anywhere. They should be specific to the individual and specific to the theme of the day (hip flexor tightness etc.). Usually, the effective exercise is simpler than you think.    

Jujimufu (who you should just google with the added words of splits) used to practice the splits for 2 hours every night for 6 months before he could successfully complete the split. No bands, no sticks, no balls, just straight up graft and persistence got him there.

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That old saying of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) couldn’t ring truer. Adding the complex mobility exercises can lead to poor adherence and reduced attention spans on these simple but very effective drills. As a coach, there is always the temptation to reveal your newest exercise to solidify yourself an expert.  Hold back, restrain and drip feed them into the sessions as and when.  Don’t drop your trousers and show all your cards straight away!

To give you an example of what I mean by the latest and greatest’, I was watching a video the other day where I witnessed a glute bridge, with a band, holding a stick while abd/adducting the legs along with pushing the stick into a wall.  Good for Instagram, but the practicality of this with a client is minimal.

Keep these types of exercises for your own amusement, remember, your client doesn’t work in a gym all day every day so won’t feel monotony you do with same exercises.

Having a theme to your mobility drills will allow you to be specific and effective with the time you have.   For example, with that client that enjoys running (you know the one, tells everyone their a fitness guru because they run, but have had multiple injuries due to ridiculously tight calves, hamstrings and hips!) hitting the hip flexor group is a good idea, so you could do the following as a warm-up for week 1:

Monday (Rec Fem/Psoas Focus)

  • Couch stretch 60s each side

  • Kneeling hip flexor stretch with double hand overhead reach (moving in and out of ROM), 10 reps each side (60s)

  • Walking heel to butt holds ( 20 reps - 60s)

Wednesday (add/abductor focus)

  • Frog stretch, 12 reps (60s)

  • Elbow to Instep, 10 reps each side (60s)

  • Worlds Greatest Stretch (5 each side (60s)

Friday (Hip Flexor Group)

  • Half kneeling hip flexor with foothold and rotation

  • Kneeling hip flexor stretch with double hand overhead reach (moving in and out of ROM), 10 reps each side (60s)

  • Worlds Greatest Stretch (5 each side (60s)

When training clients, always have their goal in the front of your mind while designing their warm up.  If its to look better naked, then don’t spend 15 minutes of mobility. If their goal is improving their posture, then do spend 15 minutes on mobility.

Funny enough, a good resource on this topic is Jujimufu’s book on Legendary Flexibility (you know, the guy that did the splits on 2 chairs with a barbell overhead….?).  He talks about small changes in everyday life to improve mobility.  If someone really wants to improve their flexibility, then 10-15 minutes at the beginning of a workout isn’t going to do it, it’s a lifestyle change! I’ll leave you with this nice quote from his book:

“The biggest mistake I see experienced athletes make when working towards improving their flexibility is avoiding this hard, direct work, and instead waste their time doing a circus of banded-massage-rolling-stick-voodoo-floss nonsense.”