Old Forum Where to start with mobility and flexibility?

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jimmytones

First Post
I've read some things about mobility and flexibility but probably *too much* if you know what I mean. That is, I'm kind of overwhelmed with the amount of information but I know that practically I'm not going to do 87 different exercises and stretches.

 

Let me try to be specific as possible.

1. In general my mobility and flexibility are just awful--I suffer from what anyone has ever said about the posture and mobility problems of fat Americans who spend their lives sitting at a desk.

 

2. My specific goal in this area is to have the mobility and flexibility to learn the Olympic lifts. I'm not trying to be as flexible as possible for its own sake, I don't practice martial arts...I just want my shoulders, wrists, hips, back, ankles, etc. to work the way they're supposed to when I get coaching for the clean and jerk and snatch.

So if I'm starting at a really, really low level in this domain what should I be looking at in terms of a fairly small number of "bang for the buck" stretches/drills/exercises just to get to the level of "competent" or "trainable" in a reasonable amount of time? Later on I may identify specific areas I want to work on more but for now I really just need the overall foundation (eg, if some untrained kid asked me about putting on weight and strength I would tell him to squat heavy and often instead of telling him about 17 variations of curls to "isolate his bicep beak").

 

In terms of equipment I have access to a typical cheap commercial gym and a light kettlebell and foam roller at home. I can spend very little money but if there's something simple like bands that would help I could afford that (I hope?).
 

Jason Ginsberg

Level 4 Valued Member
mobility/Flexibility for oly lifts is a very specific thing...can you do an overhead squat? If not, can you do it with something under your heels? That's the best one stop-shopping test of this stuff specifically for oly lifting that I know of. If you can, you're off to a great start, and I would say just find an oly coach and do what he/she tells you to do.  If you can't, then this is going to be a much longer conversation...

I've heard more consistent praise for shoulder dislocates in building oly flexibility than for anything else. Hopefully Dan John will weigh in, as he's the most knowledgeable person here on o-lifting.

All this having been said, ime not everyone can develop the necessary mobility, especially if starting as an adult. I couldn't, despite a lot of effort, and despite being close to full front and side splits. Don't mean to be a downer, just to help offer clarity. If you can do them, the o-lifts are great; I wish you luck with them!
 

Mattsirpeace

Level 4 Valued Member
S&S covers mobility while respecting your time.  It's inherent to the program.

Original Strength covers it without requiring equipment.

Hope you're not doing high-rep O lifts.
 

Ace83

Level 1 Valued Member
Before I train people in the o-lifts, I have them become competent at face the wall squats with a broom stick overhead, lunges with a broomstick overhead (keeping the body vertical), broomstick dislocates (the key is to squeeze the shoulder blades together and try to stretch the broomstick apart), and front rack with a broomstick (it takes time to develop the flexibility to hold this). When people show enough proficiency we switch the broomstick out for a barbell and start practicing again.
 

jimmytones

First Post
My apologies, I wasn't clear.

 

I want to do the olympic lifts but I am not currently trying to do them because I believe I need coaching, which is partly why I'm asking about training mobility in general--not because I think some exercises will make me automatically capable of doing the olympic lifts but because money (like the ~$120/month a good o-lifting gym I know would cost) is tight and I know that right now I *cannot* o-lift. I can barely rack a clean (it's ugly) and I can't overhead squat any weight...

 

And besides the mobility issues I've learned that I am not good at reading/watching to learn good lifting technique.  I'm just not and while that's frustrating for me but it has taught me something. I've had friends joke with me about how I was a good student but not always a good tutor because things like calculus came easy to me and when people asked me how to do something my response was nearly as bad as, "well, you just do x,y and z...isn't it obvious?" Because it was obvious to me.

 

Just like some people without training have perfect pitch but can't *explain* how to sing to someone tone deaf like me, there are some people who can look at a squat and just do it perfectly...but I'm just on the other end of that spectrum. If you asked me to tell you about immunology or electrical engineering I'd pick up a book and tell you everything you needed to know in 48 hours; I read about the overhead press and my presses are still the ugliest in the world.

 

Of course, even people who are good lifters think o-lifting is very technical and I've recognized that I'm bad at teaching myself to lift so I want to do it with coaching (and I've met people who have invited me to an o-lifting gym that seems pretty nice). It's just that the money is also important to me so I'd like to go in humble with the understanding that I have a lot of work to do but also with *some* baseline mobility to even do the drills that will make me capable of lifting.

 

I was thinking of something like an 8 week program that incorporates S&S type kettlebell practice--goblet squats, swings, get ups--along with some time at the gym working on my rack position, hook grip, broomstick dislocations, broomstick overhead squats, etc.

 

The ideal would be to just start out really strong and flexible and get coaching asap...but the reality is I'm not strong or flexible and my coaching budget is very limited.
 

jimmytones

First Post
What I mean is that one good answer is to get an o-lifting coach if I want to o-lift. That’s good advice.

It just so happens in my case that financially it makes a big difference to me if I pay for six months of coaching over the next six months or four months of coaching after working on myself for free. I want go in as prepared as possible if I’m spending money (knowing that it will still be a challenge).





Before I train people in the o-lifts, I have them become competent at face the wall squats with a broom stick overhead, lunges with a broomstick overhead (keeping the body vertical), broomstick dislocates (the key is to squeeze the shoulder blades together and try to stretch the broomstick apart), and front rack with a broomstick (it takes time to develop the flexibility to hold this). When people show enough proficiency we switch the broomstick out for a barbell and start practicing again.



Thanks. Are there any drills you like to use besides doing things directly with light weights? Eg, racking a broomstick doesn’t seem to give much of a stretch.
 

Ace83

Level 1 Valued Member
Sorry man, I thought you were asking about o-lifting mobility.

In that case, I personally like pumps (up + downward dog), bretzel 1 + 2, and getups.

If you were to buy a product to help you, I highly recommend "kettle bells from the ground up 1+2" by Brett Jones, Gray Cook, and friends. It uses the getup as a movement screen and as a base of movement to fix your mobility issues. It not only shows you where you are having mobility issues, it also shows you how to fix them. One of the greatest products I've ever purchased (along with kettle bells from the center).
 

Ace83

Level 1 Valued Member
About the drills, no. We use corrections to fix movement problems, but once some one can do those drills well with a broomstick we give them the oly bar, when they can do the drills with an oly bar (except dislocates) we start practicing the lifts. You can have someone practice with an oly bar empty (45lbs) for a long time before you give them more weight. This time is spent doing hundreds apon hundreds of repetitions trying to make your technique "snap". This is real oly lifting mobility, moving a weight through the full range of motion. You move up to resistance band dislocates to supplement you broomstick work eventually.

Sorry if this isn't what you wanted to hear. You can probably record yourself doing the broomstick drills I mentioned and get free feedback here on the forum though.
 
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