Raise your hand if at some point in your life you have vowed to increase the amount you move/exercise?
Raise your hand if you have struggled perfecting or progressing any of the basic exercises i.e. squat, lunge, over head press…?
Finally raise your hand if you’re not even sure where to begin in terms of your technique?
Whether you are a complete beginner or a professional there are always things to be worked on, so don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help or guidance; the only time you should feel embarrassed is if you think you know everything there is to know…. you don’t… there is always something to learn or a progression to be made. Never stop learning.
When I first started exercising, as in in the gym, I had pretty much no clue whatsoever with what I was doing or whether any of what I was doing was right. I had always been sporty and have competed as part of variety of teams growing up but the gym and weights was a completely different kettle of fish.
So one day when I had been in the gym for roughly 15minutes, I had got frustrated that not only did I not know what I should be doing but my motivation just wasn’t making an appearance and I started to walk out thinking “what’s the point!” Then I saw a new PT at the front of the gym and thought “F*** It, I cant afford a PT but I’m going to see if she’s free for a chat“. After our chat (consultation) I thought; “right I’ll cut back on random spending (nights out, new outfits, daily coffees) and work with her for three months until I know a bit more about what I am doing and then I’ll go at it alone“….
Two years later I was still her client.
She completely changed my relationship with exercise. I stopped exercising purely to lose weight and instead exercised because I enjoyed it. I enjoyed how strong I felt, how much I could see a difference in my ability and how I felt within myself once I’d exercised. The only reason I stopped training with her was because I went on tour working and when I came back I picked up training with her again until I myself became a personal trainer. Still to this day though she is a part of my life as a friend and a mentor; helping me with any questions or worries I have about starting this career. She’s blooming marvelous if you ask me!!
It would have been very easy for me to walk out of the gym that day and not go back; or to keep living the same day over and over again (in terms of going to the gym, not really doing much, getting frustrated and leaving). Yet, because I chose to take a chance, invest in myself (in the form of a PT) and learn, I have now completely altered my life for the better.
Now I understand not everyone who gets a PT will become a PT, nor would want to, but my point is investing in yourself and allowing yourself the opportunity to learn can only lead you to better things.
The moment you start to feel like you know everything there is to know; you’ve lost. And that is with anything not just fitness. We are making brand new discoveries everyday, if you’re not learning you’re allowing yourself to be left behind.
This is what brings me onto the subject of mobility.
Mobility is the ability to move or be moved freely and easily.
Simple enough to understand right?
Yet mobility is one thing the majority of us don’t pay enough attention to or know enough about.
Over the last couple of decades weight training has become increasingly popular, with women realising it is not just a mans game, and so resistance training and cardiovascular training now provide the base to the way in which the majority of us exercise. However, there is one fundamental problem that we need to address when performing any kind of exercise… our mobility. Yes, getting your heart rate up, spending more hours of the day moving and working on increasing our strength is fantastic but if we miss out the basics we not only risk injury but can also prohibit our progression.
Mobility is the foundation of exercise and just like you wouldn’t build a house without first laying down the foundation, we shouldn’t exercise without working on our mobility.
Now I’m not saying “STOP ALL YOUR EXERCISING AND SOLEY DO MOBILITY DRILLS” but I am saying you need to be incorporating mobility drills into your training as by doing this you will see improvement much quicker, plus you will reduce your risk of injury.
Lets look at the SQUAT.
The squat is something we all put into our training, yet how many of us are actually squatting correctly?
Next time you squat, maybe film yourself, and ask yourself the following questions…
Do my knees or bum lead the movement?
A. Your bum should lead
How low am I getting?
A. You should be getting to at least 90degrees (knee level) but preferably lower.
Do my knees track in?
A. They should track out rather than in.
Is my chest elevated or am I practically bent over?
A. You will have a natural hinge at the hip but you should not be bent over – chest up.
When coming up out of the squat, what is leading? My bum? My knees? My head?
A. No stripper squats! Push through your feet, like you’re trying to separate the floor, and lead up with your head.
By answering these questions you will be able to determine if you are squatting correctly and if not, why not.
If you are not squatting correctly, the likelihood is, you will need to work on your mobility. You will need to work on your hips, your spine and even your ankles. Just as mobility is the foundation of training, the ankle is the foundation of a squat, so don’t over look it when trying to make progress! I understand you might feel that performing mobility drills is eating too much into your actual sweaty training time but trust me by incorporating a few drills into your warm ups you will be able to smash the session harder and will get to where you want to be quicker.
Hip Mobility Exercises
Here are a few Hip Mobility exercises to get you going. (Please bear in mind some people have completely different names for the same things…. and if I forget the name I like to make up my own names because I’m a rebel without a cause…)
- The Baby Maker
With your feet over shoulder width apart, keeping your weight in your heels, squat down as low as you can. Pop your elbows in the creases of your knees and push outwards – try to keep your chest as elevated as possible. Hold this position for 5 seconds before slowly straightening your legs whilst bending over from the hips. Hold this position for 5 seconds before returning down into your original position – use the elbows to push the knees out when returning down. Repeat 5 times.
2. The Couch Stretch
Find something to cushion your knee and place it by a wall. With your right foot out in front of you, flat on the floor, knee bent (like you are proposing), bring the left foot up towards your bum and move the knee as close to the wall as possible. Ideally you want your shin up against the wall and your knee also touching the wall – this most likely wont be doable straight away but will come over time. Ensure your chest is elevated, use the front knee for support if needs be but try and sit your back up as much as you can. Hold for 30seconds and then repeat with the opposite leg.
3. The Cocky Lizard
Start off in the plank position. Shoulders over wrists, back flat, bum inline. Then bring your right foot up towards the outside of the right hand – get as close to being in line with the hand/shoulder as you can but again this will come over time if you aren’t there yet. Sink into that right foot before moving it back into the plank position – ensure the movement is controlled not fast. Repeat 8 times consecutively on the right leg before swapping to the left. Finally bring the right foot up inline with the hands again and hold it there, placing the back knee on the floor, pushing your right elbow into the right knee and sitting up as much as you can before slowly rocking backwards and forwards into the stretch. Rock for 8-10 times and then repeat on left leg.
See below for a video on the above drills. (just excuse my facial expressions!)
There are a lot of hip mobility drills, and mobility drills in general, but these few are good ones to get you going.
Focusing on your mobility isn’t taking a step back it’ll help you take a step forward. Sometimes we have to relearn the basics in order to progress and don’t forget you should never stop learning if you want to move forward.
You’ve got this!
#bettyoucan #bettican #bettwecan