The squat is one of the most beneficial and most popular movement patterns we see in resistance training. However it requires a level of mobility in the hips, knees and ankles that the vast majority of beginners do not posses, meaning they are unable to perform the movement through its full range of motion. In this article we will provide exercises and implementation practices to help you move towards the goal of performing a full range of motion squat. Give the sample squat mobility circuit a try before your next squat session and you wont regret it!
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Mobility is a very common buzzword in the fitness industry, it refers to the ability of a joint to move through its range on motion. So when referring to hip mobility we are talking about the ability of the hip to move through its normal range of motion. When discussing the mobility of a specific exercise we will usually be talking about multiple joints and the range of motion that is required to be move through in unison to perform the exercise.
Mobility in the squat requires a vast array of joints to be mobile, but mainly it requires the hip joint, the ankle joint and the knee joint to be mobile, for the squat to be performed through the full range of motion. If you are lacking mobility in the squat and cannot perform the full range of motion, do not let this prevent you from performing the exercise through your full range of motion, as it is still a very valuable exercises, especially when done in conjunction with the mobility exercises in this list.
Mobility is very important for the squat as without adequate hip and knee mobility you will not be able to move through a full range of motion. Although there is some very small debate about the correct range of motion in the squat, it is a mute point and only serves as a way to point out coaches who are either extremely lacking in knowledge, or trying to gain attention through shock factor. The gold standard with all movement patterns is to move through the range of motion, creating stimulus throughout the muscles, anyone who moves away from this should not be listened too.
When we perform exercises like the bench press or the bent over row, it is very unlikely that you or your clients will be unable to move through the full range of motion meaning that we very rarely discuss mobility exercises for these movement patterns. Whereas for the squat, the vast majority of people starting resistance training and a large cohort who exercise regularly need to improve their squat mobility to move through a full squat pattern where the hips pass the knees. This is a position we very rarely perform in normal 21 century lifestyles, hence why most people lack this position.
These are the exercises I provide in the list, they are specific interventions aimed at improving the mobility of the hips, knees and ankles. These exercises are specific in the fact that they do not have any other primary or secondary goal. Adding these exercises into your routine will allow you to see progress over time in your squat mobility.
Resistance training is a very effective way of improving the mobility of joints , although this topic is rarely discussed, if resistance training is organised in a proper fashion then it will enable people to become more mobile over time through specific movement patterns.
For me the most effective way to improve mobility over time is proposed by Quinn Henoch of Clinical Athlete and the Author or Weightlifting Mobility Book , using corrective and mobility exercises to open joints up to potential new range and then strengthen that range using resistance training. If I am trying to improve the squat mobility of one of my clients, I will always have a squat mobility exercise in the warm up prior to an appropriate squat movement. This simple but effective manner of improving mobility is very efficient and doesn’t require a vast amount of static stretching. The reality is, other than professional athletes we all have very limited training economy (the time available to train in our week) and this approach allows successful interventions over time. If you really need to improve your squat mobility, sometimes adding in mobility exercises between sets of squats can be a great way to get a more diverse number of exercises into your routine.
Progressive overload is the continued increase of stimulus over time . In terms of stimulus, for mobility improvement we are looking for the continued increase of range of motion over time. This is how resistance training and mobility work can be combined to ensure you see progress in your squat mobility.
When we lack squat mobility, we can use exercises that shorten the range of motion, allowing you or your client to move through their full squat pattern with a clear beginning and clear end point. The perfect example of this is the box squat. All of my clients that have poor squat mobility when we start working together begin with a box squat to a height that in attainable to them, once they become very comfortable with this height, I will reduce the height slightly. Over the period of either weeks or months depending on the starting point we will eventually arrive at a full squat movement pattern, from here we will strengthen the full range of motion.
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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.