5 Mobility Exercises That Can Improve Weightlifting Performance

Tight hips, shoulders, and back? Try these five mobility drills to improve your weightlifting performance!

As many of us know, weightlifting requires an immense amount of mobility to achieve lifts with proper technique and form. Over the year, my training has evolved from being mostly performance based, to becoming more holistic, focusing on both performance and longevity equally. As we age, we come to the realization that focusing on quality movements, achieving full-range of motion, and having balanced programs is just as important as traditional lifts and PRs.

The cornerstone of true mobility is taking the time to make sure that we not are only accessing our full range of motion, but being able to fully control our movement. Becoming more mobile and durable is going to enhance our ability to prevent injury in the positions that are most susceptible to causing injury.

The movements below can be used intra-set or as active recovery. Not only has my mobility practice made me more flexible, mobile, and resilient, but it has dramatically enhanced my overall performance by allowing me to access ranges that have previously been restricted. Incorporating my mobility practice into my strength training routine has also made my joints and tissues much stronger and resistant to fatigue. Give these five movements a try and remember to focus on quality over quantity.

5 Weightlifter Friendly Mobility Moves

1. Sumo Knee Drops, Alternating x 10 reps total

Sumo knee drops are a great exercise to increase the strength of your internal hip rotation, which will allow you to access a greater range of motion in your hips, resulting in greater power output and control.

How-To: Sumo Knee Drop

  • Starting in a wider than hip distance stance, turn your toes out to 45 degrees.
  • Descend into a sumo squat pressing your knees back behind you.
  • Slowly bring your knee down to the ground, touching your shin to the floor, as you try to keep the opposite hip from rotating.
  • Driving from your hip slowly come back to your sumo squat and alternate sides.
  • Try to keep a proud chest and long spine throughout this movement.

2. Shoulder Rotations with Resistance Band x 10 reps each side

Improving the mobility of your internal and external rotation of your shoulders is going to allow you to build strength in ranges that may feel restricted or weak, which will lead to gains in your overall shoulder strength and control.

How-To: Shoulder Resistance With Bands

  • Strap a light resistance band to a pull-up bar overhead.
  • Grab the resistance band, anchoring it to your wrist.
  • Stand with your shoulders as squared as you can, and take the slack out of the resistance band.
  • Try to keep your scapula down and back as you slowly internally rotate your shoulder as much as you can, and then externally rotate your shoulder.
  • Try to keep pulling on the band throughout this motion. Alternate sides.

3. Lateral Lunge with Twisting Reach x 10 reps total

This lateral lunge with a twisting reach is ideal for lengthening the adductors of the legs and mobilizing your thoracic spine. Releasing tension in your groin is going to help improve the flexibility of your hips, resulting in a greater range of motion throughout your lifts. Whereas mobilization of the thoracic spine is going to increase your range of motion in the overhead position.

How-To: Lateral Lunge With Twisting Reach

  • Starting with your feet together, step out laterally wider than hip distance trying to keep your toes pointed forward.
  • Sit into your hip driving your knee forward and out.
  • Keep the opposite leg straight, and hips squared as you twist your torso towards your bent leg, planting your hand on the ground and reaching straight overhead as you keep a long spine, stacking your shoulders.
  • Come back to standing and alternate sides.

4. Gunslinger to Lateral Reach, Alternating x 20 reps total

This movement combo is great for releasing tension in the lats, as well as the muscles of the upper back (traps, rhomboids, and levator scapulae). Adding this to your routine is fantastic for maintaining a healthy spine and shoulders.

How-To: Gunslinger With Lateral Reach

  • From a tall neutral stance, flex your spine bringing your arms together out in front.
  • Pull in your abs while tucking your chin to your chest.
  • Come back to your neutral standing position and laterally flex your spine, reaching one arm diagonally overhead while the other hand reaches in the opposite direction, keeping it as straight as you can.
  • Let your neck relax in this lateral reach.
  • Repeat your spinal flexion and perform a lateral reach on the other side.

5. Shoulder Drop to Internal Rotation, Alternating x 10 reps total

This is one of my favorite movements for lengthening the muscles of the arm, anterior shoulder, and chest! Incorporating this into your routine is going to help you gain a wider range of motion in your shoulders, and help build more resilient tissues in this region.

How-To: Shoulder Drop to Internal Rotation

  • Starting in a quadruped position, spread your arms out to your sides.
  • Shift to one side, driving your shoulder into the ground, try to keep this arm as straight as you can.
  • Once you feel a deep stretch in your arm and pec, internally rotate your arm to get a deeper stretch.
  • Come back to your starting position and alternate sides.

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Feature image from @francheskafit Instagram page. 

Francheska Martinez

Francheska Martinez

Francheska Martinez is a Certified ONNIT Academy and ANIMAL FLOW Coach, specializing in kettlebells and bodyweight training.Known as FrancheskaFit on social media, she is recognized for her signature moves integrating ANIMAL FLOW, kettlebells, and explosive movements.Currently living in Austin, Texas, Francheska now travels the country teaching her training philosophy and bodyweight techniques. She also teaches movement classes in Austin to encourage others to learn how to build their mind-body connection to master their own bodyweight training.Prior to moving to Texas, Francheska studied Exercise Sports Science at the University of Central Florida. While in college, she also developed an affinity for weight lifting and running.Some of her favorite pastimes and hobbies are dancing, flag football, rollerblading, and cycling.As of 2019, Francheska is building her online training presence by launching her own Bodyweight Fundamentals Course (FrancheskaMartinez.com) to reach a wider audience and promote movement as medicine.

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