These kettlebell exercises can be used as both strengthening exercises as well as flexibility exercises and therefore improve your mobility, also known as your functional range. These can be added into your kettlebell workout or at the end of a HIIT workout, powerlifting session etc.
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Consistent, progressive strength training is a great way to improve mobility and functional movement capacity. That being said there are some very effective mobility specific exercises that you can use to improve your mobility. Here are a list of effective kettlebell variations of mobility exercises.
Improving your mobility can be a frustrating, arduous process that can sometimes feel as if you are never moving forward. Not only that, it is often filled with competing opinions about how best to improve mobility and a variety of myths that can waste a great deal of time . That’s why using kettlebell training as a tool to improve your mobility can be a great way to make traditional mobility training more palpable and fun.
One very effective way to add kettlebell mobility training into your routine is simply by using these exercises as warm ups. I use exercises like Goblet Squat with Ankle Rocks with my clients prior to squatting, therefore opening up the ankle joints and building strength in that range of motion through heavy goblet squats. Doing this style of training on a consistent basis is sure to improve the mobility of the joint you are working on.
These exercises can also be done as “mobility specific” training in the cool downs of your sessions, this means you might take an exercise like the KB Cossack Squat and other mobility exercises and perform them as a circuit at the end of your strength or cardiovascular session. This can then be made progressively more difficult over time as you adapt to the new positions and see improvements in your mobility.
This often goes overlooked, but strength training is one of the most effective ways to improve the mobility (1) of a joint, especially if it is warmed up correctly and then moved through its full range of motion with a manageable weight. The manageable weight part is a very important part of that equation, if your using maximal weights it is very unlikely that you can comfortable move through your full range of motion, so when your doing heavy strength training do not consider this as part of improving your mobility.
The Knees over toes KB goblet squat in lunge is a great strength training exercise that also improves the mobility of the knee joint and ankle joint. It can be a very challenging position at first so take your time with it and start with very light weights. This can be a great addition to a training programme for someone who is struggling to squat to full depth due to ankle mobility issues.
The Front Rack Narrow Stance Squat or goblet narrow stance squat is a great way to work on ankle and knee mobility with the kettlebell also. It requires a great deal of knee flexion to go into a deep squat position, therefore encouraging yourself or a client to move through a new range of motion whilst gaining strength in the positions.
The goblet cossack squat is one of my favourite kettlebell mobility exercises that I use with my clients as it works hip, knee and ankle stability all at the same time. This is one of my go to warm up exercises before squats, done consistently over time you can take someone with a very tight lower body and get them very mobile. The best is too start with the bodyweight variation and once you have masted the technique of the exercise, especially the aspect of keeping the hips low as you transition from side to side. Then you can start adding weight.
The goblet squat with ankle rocks is a very effective exercise, but this is for more experienced individuals, as placing weight on the ankles in this fashion can be very challenging. This exercises needs to be done slowly with control, the point is to take your time and carve out some new range of motion. It should never cause any pain or discomfort. Although it is not for beginners, it is still one of the best exercises available with a kettlebell at improving ankle range of motion.
The half kneeling kettlebell windmill is an excellent full body mobility exercise that requires precision and control. This exercise will be far too complex for beginners who should focus on using simpler positions. For more intermediate and advanced trainees this exercise can be a great way to improve both shoulder and hip mobility and stability. If your are unable to lock the elbow with the kettlebell over head due to mobility restrictions do not attempt this exercise, it will just create fatigue in the shoulder joint and not improve mobility.
The KB counterbalance squat is a perfect example of an exercise that can be used to gain mobility in the hips whilst also improving squat technique. The counter weight of the kettlebell will make it easier to maintain upright positions. This will therefore allow individuals to go lower in the squat whilst maintaining good positions. The arms should be have a slight bend in them in order to not generate too much fatigue whilst moving through the squat.
Kettlebell scew-drivers are one of the best ways to strengthen and gain mobility in the muscles that stabilise the shoulders. This exercise is not designed to be used by beginners, it requires good proprioception and control of the shoulder joint. It is also a very effective exercise for those who are recovering from shoulder surgery or a shoulder injury. It needs to be done with very light weight and with a high level of control. If you are coaching this exercise with a client be sure to tell them not to force new ranges of motion, the goal is to move through your current range of motion with control while dealing with an external load.
The KB Jefferson curl on bench is a brilliant way to improve the mobility of the hamstrings, lower back and hip joint in general, it will depend on where you or your client have the most mobility restrictions. This exercise requires good technique and needs to be performed slowly with light weights to start. This exercise will be done once you have done the bodyweight variation and the KB variation without a bench. This will allow you to have gained excellent technique, and by this point you’ll have already started to see the benefits to your mobility.
Yes they are are great way to improve both strength and mobility in conjunction with each other. Adding these movements into your warm ups or accessory work can be a great way to achieve this objective without spending a long time on a foam roller.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.