Tag Archives: mobility

Humans are meant to be both

Mobility is underrated, until it’s gone that is.
Having a good amount of flexibility is one thing, however being mobile is something a little different.
In short, holding an extended or stretched ROM will come down to these two things primarily:
1 – How much residual muscle tension (tone) you have
2 – Your neurological ability to contract/relax as needed
The first part is the easiest to address, this is why you often find commonly that the people who are the most flexibly don’t really have too much in the way of ‘muscle tone’ to speak of.
While they will indeed have some, as muscles will hold some level of residual tension due to their ability to produce force it won’t be that much.
This links in with the second part, some people have amazing control over their bodies and are able to inhibit/disinhibit muscles at will to either deepen a stretch or perform some kind to interesting contrition feat despite being heavily muscled.
You see once you begin building strength and a large amount of LBM the stronger you get the more tension/force you’ll produce, meaning your muscles to some may appear ‘stiff’, which is kinda true, yet it’s also what give your that muscular look.
This is all a learned neurological state, one of constant or semi-constant tension I mean.
It’s where the term ‘relax into stretching’ comes from and why a focus on breath when you stretch is crucial as it will allow your bodies PNS/CNS to communicate and realise there is no danger of snapping, thus allowing flexibility to improve, which in tern helps improve mobility in the long run.
Because the body doesn’t feel unstable due to the muscles working in synergy with each other, this links back to the inhibition/disinhibition side of things.
Say you’ve got muscles acting as prime movers when they shouldn’t be, that will cause unnecessary tension elsewhere to support your body, usually causing excessive stiffness, lack of mobility/flexibility, not due to you not naturally possessing either, it’s more a case of you’ve learned how to move badly and compensate for it.
This is why having an adequate mobility & stretching supplement to your training is crucial.
Well, for most average people.
You’ll find the higher you progress up the ladder of a specific sport or endeavour there will invariably be some sacrifices you need to make.
For example; powerlifting.
If you truly with to have the heaviest SQ/BP/DL possible then you won’t be flexible due to the massive about of force you’ll be able to produce and tension needed to stabilise (plus the residual stuff too), however you will be flexible/mobile enough for your sport.
Now this have bene long winded yet it gives you some more context and thread to pull on.
Flexibility is holding extended positions/rom and to me shows a good command of being able to contract/relax muscles as needed to allow the stretch to occur to your own natural end ROM’s.
Mobility is being able to be fully stable and produce the desired force output required while moving through an entire ROM.
Two side of the same coin
The first is passive (for recovery), the second is active for performance).
You may not put much stock in the above, however I implore you to give it some investigation, you never know, you might just end up understanding why you ache in certain places or can’t heal a certain injury.

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Test Your Might

“If you’re not assessing you’re guessing.” – various strength coaches
You may have heard these words before, but now I’m going to show you what they really mean.
– Finding gaps/holes in people fitness
Beware though, this will leave a fair few in a potential state of dismay because they’ve over estimated their abilities and now feel stupid.
Well, men will feel stupid and then justify why and make up 1000 excuses.
Ladies on the other hand will hold themselves back, which makes them look equally as stupid as the gents who try to reenact feats from their teens.
The funny things with testing is that it’s not mean to upset.
It’s merely a set of objective test to help gain an understanding of a persons current level of fitness.
***Tests can vary based on the goal or discipline***
It’s also worth remembering that a test only gives a piece of the puzzle, this is where we have the need for ongoing assessment.
What tests/assessments you choose to do will vary base don the context in which they’re required for.
As such there are no ‘perfect’ tests.
Yet there are still some that yield some great insight in to what people might be lacking in a vernal strength/ability sense.
Here are three of my favourite ones that people can’t hide form.
1 – Pull Up 1/2/3/4
Grab a bar (any grip, however DOH is my preferred).
Hang for 30 seconds, do 1 pull up.
Hang for 30 seconds, do 2 pull ups.
Hang for 30 seconds, do 3 pull ups.
Hang for 30 seconds, do 4 pull ups.
Come down safely. The feeing in your hands will return shortly.
Completing all 10 reps means a person will have more than enough upper body strength to do pretty much everything, if they can’t hang for the first 30 seconds then the’ve got work to do.
*Advanced Variation – there isn’t one, this is tough enough 😂
2 – Deadlift Max
Perform single deadlifts (any variation with a straight bar is acceptable).
Increase weight until speed is lost, this is safer than going until form starts to lose its tightness.
Bw on the bar is okay.
1.5xBw is decent.
2xBw is more than enough for people to be awesome.
2.5xBw+ well, that’s just impressive.
*Advanced variation – how much can they pick up from the floor and put overhead in a strict press fashion.
**BW on the bar is where most men ideally want to be, ladies 3/4bw, if either exceeds this then applaud because it’s well deserved.
3 – Squat & Hold
Perform a full ROM squat (hip crease below knee line).
Sit here while maintaining good posture, this is a mobility test.
30seconds is minimum required for health.
60sec is decent.
2min is very impressive.
4min+ guess they’ve got no need for chairs any more.
*Advanced variation – Overhead Squat. Being able to perform this movement is a good standard for many people to aim for.
The tests above are nothing spectacular, they’re merely three tools I’ve used over the years that have always provided a good baseline understanding of a persons level.
If someone maxes out all of them their training will be most enjoyable to program.
When we see gaps in one or more of the above that means their training will be set up to address those first.
The above is also most optima for the AVERAGE PERSON.
Yep, an average Joe or Jane that can do well in all of these will often have solid posture/strength, good body composition and move well.
Several things many people desire.
If you are training an athlete or someone for a specific goal then you may have specific tests you need to utilise.
You should investigate this thoroughly.

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Are you the average man or woman?

Do you want to train for health, performance and to feel better because if that is the case keep reading.
Three things in the gym you should ideally be able to do.
1 – 1x Double Bodyweight Deadlift
2 – 5x Chin Ups
3 – 1x 3/4 Bodyweight Press
1 – 1x Double Bodyweight Deadlift
2 – 10x Pull Ups
3 – 1x Bodyweight Press
None of the above requires astronomical strength.
Hit the above though and chicness are you’ll have some good base results.
Say you struggle to achieve these then it can mean a few things, such as you might have been injured one upon a time, have a legitimate medical excuse that makes you exempt etc.
If you have no aliments (real ones), then it may mean this:
– You’re too heavy
– You’re too weak
Now a lot of people will get the hump reading this.
Some will scream and shout about their not being any cardio goal however I shall explain why there are none.
CV is easy to build.
(I’d recommend a sport, like boxing, BJJ, skipping etc)
Think about it logically for one moment, please.
You can go from couch to 5k in a matter of weeks, perhaps even train to run a marathon within 6months (I’ve known people to go form never doing any fitness to that feat, it was most impressive).
Yet when it comes to building strength you’ll find that shit takes a long time, especially if you’re very de-conditioned.
Strength, or base strength has a universal crossover to life.
As does mobility, as such here are three other things you should be able to do:
– Sit in a full ROM squat pain free for 5min
– Lay down, stand up, crawl and climb things pain free
– Pass all minimum ROM tests (google this)
Many will see me as overly harsh, other will know my intentions are good though.
Like a post I shared a few weeks ago about being abel to haul around a sandbag of your own bodyweight.
Ideally you should be able to carry it for at least 1min without any real trouble. get it to your shoulder and even over head too with not too much soul crushing effort.
^^ All of this will build decent CV levels by the way.
(If you want to build strength and CV use kettlebells)
We’ve become so sedentary.
All of the above seems like truly huge feats and they’re not.
Not really.
Investing in your own strength, mobility and base levels of conditioning will help stave off meeting Charon too soon.
Give it some thought.

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Mobility Master

Being able to move unimpeded and pain free is something a lot of people want.

All it would take is one quick google search and you’d find all the information you need to put a plan together, alas many of us are too lazy for that, thus we will just let our body slowly stiffen and lose its ability to move well.

When I’m away teaching there are a few key drills I will put in to warm ups to see how well people move, it’s also easy to spot just by looking at people who that is.

Total body coordination is something we’d really do well not to lose.

It’s it quite surprising how many people will watch the other people in the groups I teach that move what I’d consider ‘normally’ and are like “OMG, wow, that’s amazing.”.

Ummm not it’s not, that’s something we everyone should ideally be abel to do, so in truth the people that can more are not amazing, you’re just really really broken in a moment sense.

Don’ts get me wrong, I’m not talking about people moving like Ido Portal from day one.

More along the lines of having basic coordination skills and not making yourself look like your 80 because of how crap your movement skill is.

These are the three main movement I will get people doing (they give me all the knowledge I need).

1 – Inch worms (a lunge step to upper thoracic rotation is also added in)
2 – Spiderman/Lizard Crawls – ideally hey get their chest as low to the floor as possible
3 – Duck Walks & Sit Through

If the facility has one then I’d also like to see a rope climb as well, beginner level is using feet, I’m ideally after people to climb and descend using arms only.

The reason for these is simple, the first tests mobility/flexibility/stability.

The second looks at mobility, stability and strength.

The third is mobility, balance and movement coordination.

If we have a rope then that tests strength because I’ve found that while some people more well they are very weak.

When time is short and I need one simple test to assess everything in one go it will be the TGU (turkish get up), I will proceed to see how heavy they can go with the gold standard being 1/2 their bodyweight per hand, if someone can do that then good things happen.

Give the above a try, you can hope on YouTube and find them all easily if you’re not sure what they are.

You’ll also find adding these to your assessment methods will highly who need what and in what dose.

Try them yourself because while you don’t need to be perfect at everything you do, you need to be competent in demonstrating it well, otherwise you may look a tad foolish.


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Upgrade your 3G to 4G

We’re not talking about phones here.

If you happen to still have 3g then you might be due an update, just like me.

There are the 3G’s of fitness that if you put some focus on training will change everything.

Strength will increase with ease.

Plus you’ll also be privy to some much appreciated endurance/cardio vascular benefit and perhaps even some fat loss too 🤗

Here are the three things you need to work on more:

– Grip
– Glutes
– Guts (cores)

In doing so you’ll upgrade and attain the 4th G:

– Gains

There are a whole host of movements you can do to train the above, let us look at their impact and on what tier they’d be.

I won’t list them all, just the good ones.

Tier 1 – All 3G hit

– Any Deadlift variation (no straps)
– Loaded Carries
– Climbing/Pull Ups (if done correctly)
– Snatches
– Heavy Presses (most variations)
– Kettlebell Swings (most variations)

Tier 2 – Hit 2 out of the 3G’s

– Heavy Barbell Curls (yes, you read that right)
– Rowing variations
– Isometrics (planks etc)
– Squatting variations
– Sled Pushing/Pulling
– Plyo work (jumping, throwing etc)

Tiet 3 – Hit 1 out of the 3G’s

– Any specific isolated movement for Grip, Glutes, Gut

Sorting you’re movements in to a 3 tier system will allow you to pick and choose those that offer the most bang for their buck and also program support/isolation work where needed in a logical way.

If you are looking to put together a training session here is how it may look:

A1 – Tier 1 movement
B1 – Tier 2 movement
B2 – Tier 2 movement
C1 – Tier 3 movement

With exercises added for 3 days training:

Day 1 –
A1 – DL: Snatch Grip-Clean Grip-Mix Grip: 2-4x 2-2-2
B1 – Barbell Row 4-6×4-6
B2 – Barbell Curl 4-6x-4-6
C1 – *Roman Chair Leg Raise 8x 2-4

Day 2 –
A1 – Awkward Object Clean & Press x1 + Carry x400m
B1 – Incline Press 7×3-5
B2 – Sled Push 7×20-40m
C1 – CoC Gripped 3-5 sets of 10-30sec hold per hand

Day 3 –
A1 – Trap Bar DL 8×2-3
B1 – Sled Push 7×20-40m
B2 – Sled Pull 7×20-40m
C1 – Front Squat 6×2-4

*If you do a hanging leg raise you can find that move up a couple of tiers due to the increased difficulty.

By hitting movements that place a heavy demand on one or all three of these areas you’ll find you start to gain in strength, CV, LBM and generally spice up your training as well.


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3 way to optimise your mobility without taking out extra time in your day.

Did you know it’s common for people to make excuses?
A common one is – “I just don’t have the time.”
I’m here to tell you that is not quite true.
In fact it’s down right wrong for most people.
There will of course be a few exceptions, just because there always has to be that unique snowflake.
Given how important mobility is, we should really be doing some form of it every day.
Now this isn’t yoga, or anything like that before some people freak.
You won’t lose gains improving your mobility.
Did you know mobility by definition is being able to retain torque through a full range of movement.
Essentially you are able to stay just the right amount of tense as you move, thus preventing any mishaps and also maximise potential progress.
It is far to say that ideally everyone should set aside 30min every day to do a mobility/flow routine.
Some will even make it a new goal or resolution.
Alas all the best intentions of this world often fall short in their performance.
To many they will say they don’t have 30min.
Oh they do, which we will learn how to get shortly.
If I was to even ask for 5min a day people’s moan that’s too much of a time constraint.
It’s truly a shame people will not even try to find time for something that can literally ensure they are mostly pain free as they go through life.
Never mind eh.
Okay, so here are the three ways you can find time for mobility.
1 – Utilisation of rest periods in regular training.
This is my first port of call for most people.
Instead of sitting on Facebook, taking selfies for the Gram or playing Angry Birds, Candy Crush or whatever mobile app game is all the rage these days, you do correctives & mobility.
Boom, time you can dedicate to a good cause.
2 – Drills & Skills while you watch TV.
To be fair this can be done in-betwwen various tasks you do at home, I will do some drills/movements while I’m cooking or waiting for something to be flipping or stirring.
As for TV time, instead of sitting on your arse you can pick a pose or a movement and do some reps.
Yet another place you have time.
3 – Before you go to bed.
Let’s be honest, most people go to bed way too late, then sit on their phone checking things before trying to get to sleep.
I say try because many get in to bed and proceed to stare at the ceiling while staving off crippling despair.
That’s a topic for another day though.
Going to bend 5min earlier or shutting down your electronic kit 15min sooner than normal can open up a nice window of time you can use for some restorative work.
Bonus affect = this style of movement (restorative, gentle mobility) has a positive effect on your para-sympathetic nervous system, provided you practice diaphragmatic breathing.
Stimulating this side of the CNS will help you drift off in to a nice peaceful sleep.
Seriously, it works.
So there you have it 3 ways you can find time.
Oh and if you’re going to make an excuse as to why these options above just won’t work for you, fair enough, just don’t grumble when things start going south in regards to your health.

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Reps for days

It isn’t uncommon for people to ask – “What sets/reps should I be doing?”

While perhaps not that exactly, it will be something along those lines, as such I’ve found that cycling them based on a classic Heavy-Light-Medium rotation applied to a Pull-Push-Legs split.

One element to remember is that Heavy doesn’t mean hard and light doesn’t mean easy, however that is a topic for another day, for now I will give you something you can apply immediately.

Rep/Set Schemes:

  • Heavy  – 5-3-2-5-3-2-5-3-2 (heavy yet not hard)
  • Light – 20-15-10-20-15-10 (light yet not easy)
  • Medium – 5-8×1 + 1×20 – ramp to heavy single for the day, then take 60-70% of that and do one set of 20 reps

Split Options: 4 day split examples

  • Pull-Push-Legs-Off-Repeat
  • Lower-Upper-Posterior-Off-Repeat
  • Strength-Conditioning-Mobility(restorative)-Off-Repeat

^^ 2-4 lifts per day is often sufficient, 1 main with the rep/set scheme, the rest can be 2-3×10-15 or 4×6, your choice.

If we take the PPL and apply the rep schemes over a small cycle.

No change in lifts, only reps.

Day 1 – Pull – Heavy
Day 2 – Push – Light
Day 3 – Legs – Medium
Day 4 – Off
Day 5 – Pull – Light
Day 6 – Push – Medium
Day 7 – Legs – Heavy
Day 8 – Off
Day 9 – Pull – Medium
Day 10 – Push – Heavy
Day 11 – Legs – Light
Day 12 – Off

Many will then say – “What now?”

Once you’ve gone through this you’ll find you’re back at the heavy day being for pull, you can choose to keep the lifts the same and try to hit a higher load or you can perhaps change the lifts, pick your poison.

This allows for a constant rotation of days and keeps things interesting, if you are constrained be the working week and days you can train then you may need something a little different, in which case all you need do it ask for the answer.


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The perfect training tool?

There are 5 main kettlebells to work with.
For anyone worth their salt that is.
A great tool that hits every aspect of your being, in every way imaginable.
The big 5 are as follows:
48kg = Beast
40kg = Bulldog
32kg = Badger
24kg = Fox
16kg = Rabbit
*The beast has always been called the beast, the others picked up names via the SFG/RKC/Kettlebell Communities and they’re awesome.
8kg jumps a truly mammoth task to achieve.
Such jumps require a good amount of time to achieve, this is where a lot of people lose their drive with kettlebells, the results are not fast or flashy and you need to be willing to invest years of your life in to them.
In the modern world patience is in short supply.
Which bells of the above can you handle?
Those are the standard milestones that many should aim to achieve in regards to kettlebell work.
If by the end of a long journey you can swing (single arm), snatch, press, pistol, chin & get up the Beast for multiple reps there is a good chance you’ll have a body that is built to last for a very long time.
We do have 4kg jumps in-between the lager bells, and these are useful, when it comes to kettlebells I wouldn’t recommend anyone goes up in less than 4kg.
If you just read that and are sat thinking 4kg is too much then you need to rethink your life because clearly being strong both physically and mentally are not high on your agenda, this needs to change.
There are no set in stone names for the middle bells, some have floated around, yet few have taken like the main 5 above.
What do you feel they could be called?
Leave your thoughts below.
In closing.
These simple pieces of kit are hard to beat in regards to the multiple elements of fitness they hit when using them, mobility, balance, tension, skill, power, and so much more, for the average person there would be little need for any other kit, well, perhaps a pull up bar (or chin/dip station to hang some gymnastic rings on), other than those additions, you’d be golden.
Of course you could add in ropes and other such bits of ‘functional’ training kit, however if there is one thing I’ve learned over the years it is this.
Less done better trumps more done poorly.

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Weak Links

Three things you need for successful lifting & breaking plateaus.
– Stability
– Mobility
– Strength – A & B
Why is stability about mobility?
Simply because if you’re not stable your body will naturally inhibit the ROM you can achieve because it is unable to fire its neural pathways in the required sequence.
Mobility is before strength due to the fact that to lift heavy things pain free and reduce injury you need good/optimal mobility.
If you ensure you have stability/mobility then your strength will progress. When you start to find yourself stalling take a look at the first two because the chances that one of them is now being compromised to try and accommodate a heavier load is high, meaning you might need to sort them first.
What is meant by Strength A & Strength B?
A – Overall strength to perform the movement while keeping optimal/correct form/alignments.
B – You have a weak link in your muscular/kinetic chain that needs individual/specific focus (such as spinal erectors in the front squat, triceps in the over head press, etc).
Take a look at all of your lifts, if they stall go back and from upwards from stability until you find the weak link. If you do this you will find you break lifting plateaus and also better understand your own body.

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