Mobile Muscle: Your Active Mobility Plan For Increased ROM And Strength

Static stretches waste valuable time for minimal benefits that won't last. Adopt this active mobility warm-up and take your training to the next level!

Hard-training lifters often suffer from stiffness and reduced range of motion (ROM) after intense training cycles. However, a well-structured workout doesn't need to leave you feeling like Han Solo encased in carbonite. In fact, a well-structured training program can help you feel limber when you leave the gym and even better when you return. So, how do you make today's workout better and tomorrow's more productive? Mobility!

Common meatheads might scoff at the idea of mobility work, believing that there's no direct connection between increased ROM and getting more swole. I argue, however, that your muscles generate more internal tension and metabolic stress when utilizing a larger range of motion, and your joints can recover more effectively when they aren't consistently worn in the same position, ROM, and plane of action. In other words, there is a direct connection!

The comprehensive mobility training routine I'm going to share can help improve your active range of motion, lead to greater muscular stress and tension, and help you add more muscle to your body. While most mobility programs involve static stretching, I replaced static stretches with dynamic mobility stretches at my training seminars to increase ROM and build strength simultaneously. Here's your guide and warm-up plan to reap the same training benefits as my clients!

"A strong core allows you to be more mobile."

Trade Static for Active

I learned early in my training career that static stretching alone doesn't deliver ideal results. No matter how much time my clients spent stretching, they only saw transient improvements in flexibility, and minimal improvement in motor control while performing movements in their new ROM. As a result, I dropped static stretching from my programs for more advanced mobility methods. My new approach helped clients develop mobility faster, maintain it longer, and use it during their workouts with greater effect.

To improve your mobility, skip the transient benefits offered by static stretching and start training your core. It may sound funny, but a strong core allows you to be more mobile. When the spine is stable, the hips and shoulders don't need to hold stabilizing tension, which allows them to move more freely.

Check out this example of a side plank used to increase hip mobility:

Dean Somerset Side Plank For Hip Mobility
Watch The Video - 11:16



Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release, also has a profound impact on ROM, especially when used pre-workout instead of post-workout.

Dean Somerset SMR Lower Body
Watch The Video - 02:22



The rolling causes the nerve feeding into the tight muscle to essentially short circuit, reset, and reduce its level of resting tension. This doesn't increase the length of the muscle but does allow for less resistance, which results in greater mobility and ROM.

Actively taking a muscle or group of muscles through a range of motion in a cyclical repeating manner, also known as active mobility, takes advantage of temperature and fluid changes in the working tissues to increase plasticity and flexibility in the target areas.

To get the most bang for your buck, focus on increasing range at the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine. Ankles are a primary limiting joint for ground-based movements. Hip restrictions can wreak havoc on the knees and lower back, and thoracic spine limitations can affect scapular mechanics, overhead mobility, and breathing mechanics, which impact core stability.

Plan in Motion

Here's a simple six-step, pre-workout mobility plan that will increase your usable ROM so you can get swole safely and effectively.

1
Foam Rolling

Focus on tight areas and make sure to consistently breathe throughout the entire process.

2
Core Stability


3
Ankle Mobilizer

Stand with your toes four inches away from the wall and touch your knee to the wall without your heel lifting off the ground.

Ankle Mobilizer
Watch The Video - 00:25



4
Goalie Stretch

Pulse back and forth to increase adductor and groin activity while breathing deep. Never press into pain.

Goalie Stretch
Watch The Video - 00:25



5
2-Step 3D Hip Mobility Drill

Push to the end of the available ROM without holding your breath, hold for a half second, and move to the next step.

2-Step 3D Hip Mobility Drill
Watch The Video - 00:27



6
Lunge To Backward Rotation

Rotate through the ribs and focus on getting your chest up as high as possible during the rotation.

Lunge To Backward Rotation
Watch The Video - 00:27



Bonus Step Kettlebell Arm Bar To Hand Slide

This is an advanced step after you master Steps 1-6. Watch the video below for technique.

Kettlebell Arm Bar To Hand Slide
Watch The Video - 00:32



Mobility Allows For Creativity

There isn't a set-in-stone method for active mobility stretches. I like to train this way because it keeps the warm-up process fun. You can also structure more flow into your warm-up and blend the movements into a routine, which I find more enjoyable and effective than simply treating the body as a collection of individual joints. Check out the series below and enjoy!

Unstructured Hip Flow Series
Watch The Video - 00:32