How Can I Improve My Form In The Gym?

Ever wondered when doing a squat you feel a stiffness in your hip?And this stiffness stops you from going to depth?Or even when doing a bench press, you feel a stiffness or pain in your shoulders? Or for any specific exercise?This is so because you lack what we call Mobility.

 

WHAT IS MOBILITY?

Mobility is the ability of your joints to move through their full range of motion without feeling any stiffness or pain.So for example when doing a squat your hip and ankle joints are both required to squat.A person with poor hip and ankle mobility will find it very difficult to squat to depth and also they may notice that they might lean forward when coming out of the squat.

A person with great hip and ankle mobility will be able to squat to depth and be able to come out of the squat without feeling any stiffness or pain.Their chest will least likely fall forward in a squat as well.

The reason for lack of mobility especially in the hips and ankles is due to sitting a lot throughout the day. So if you have a 9 to 5 job that requires you to sit all day at your desk. Or even if you go to school or college and have to sit all day is a major cause of poor hip and ankle mobility. As a matter of fact most mobility problems!

Another example is when doing a bench press if when lowering the bar to your chest you find it difficult to lower it to your chest and you may notice some stiffness or even shoulder pain.

Even when doing a barbell row you may find it difficult to pull the bar closer to your body you may find a great stiffness in your shoulders.

One reason for this can be poor posture when sitting. So if you work at a desk or go to school and you tend to slouch when you sit or even if you slouch when using your mobile phone these are great indications for poor mobility.

Posture is very important when sitting and even standing because poor posture causes poor mobility and even body pain. So if you complain about neck and back pain poor posture is probably the main reason why.

So if you do sports or even go to the gym and you get injured a lot one reason can be mobility!

BENEFITS OF DOING MOBILITY EXERCISES

1) The first and to me one of the most important reasons for doing mobility exercises is it helps to prevent you from getting seriously injured. This is so because when the joint or the muscles around the joint is suffering stiffness, it would not be able to go to its full range of motion.

If you try to force it to go to its full range of motion and it can’t then you can seriously damage yourself since you are pushing the muscle and joints beyond its current limit. Mobility exercises helps to enable the joints and muscles to move to their full range of motion.

2)It helps to keep healthy joints. When doing mobility stretches and the joints and the muscles around the joints healthy. When stretching it increases blood flow to the area. With the blood there are often nutrients from the food we consumed in the blood and when this moves to the stretched area, it helps to repair any damages done and maintain any joints that are already healthy.

So for example if you ever injured your lower back deadlifting, stretching the lower back everyday over a period of time will help the injury depending on the type of injury and the seriousness of it.

3) It helps you to get stronger. If stretching joints and the muscles around it increases your range of motion then the weight that you are moving can now move a further distance. For example, when squatting the closer you put you foot stance the greater mobility you need and the wider you go the less mobility you need.

So if you usually squat with a wide stance you would realize you would not be able to squat very low bu if you bring your stance closer you would realize you would squat lower to the floor. This means with a narrower stance your body is travelling a further distance with weight on your back.

The further the distance the longer the weight is acting on the muscle and the longer the resistance on the muscle.Therefore you would get stronger overtime than using a wider stance.Same goes for a bench press when gripping the bar at a narrow grip as opposing to a wide one.

HOW CAN I DO MOBILITY EXERCISES?

Firstly I recommend doing a mobility exercise as part of your warm up before jumping into some heavy lifting.This helps you to relieve any stiffness in the muscles and joints and allows it to move freely.

Therefore by doing mobility exercises before actually lifting weight blood flow would have increased to the joints and they will be properly warmed up for lifting.You can do these mobility exercises for about 5-10 minutes and this will help with a proper warm up.

Mobility exercises mostly involves stretching such as either static stretching, dynamic stretching or just holding one position for an extended period of time.

For those of you that like or are interested in yoga I personally think yoga has a lot of great mobility stretches in it and if you want to try yoga I highly recommend it.

Some mobility exercises that I personally do I will now discuss.

DOWEL STRETCH

This is one of my personal favourite exercise that I use for shoulder mobility.It involves the use of a stick like a broom stick if you have one. You simply hold the stick out infront of you wider than shoulder width with elbows staying locked out the whole time,then shrug your shoulders and try to carry the stick over your head and carry it to your lower back.

Then shrug your shoulders again and bring the stick from the lower back to the front of your body again and do this 10 times and count that as 1 set. Do this for 3 sets.

You will feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders. As the wider grip width gets easier use a narrower grip but no grip inside shoulder width since that would not be too good for our shoulders. I currently apologize that I do not have any proper visuals on it to illustrate what I am trying to describe.

There is a video on YouTube that I think covers this well by a channel named Hosmer Chiropratic Health called ‘Shoulder and Chest Stretches with Dowel’.

This is also a good exercise to do if you tend to have bad sitting posture and you tend to get upper back pain and shoulder pain.

WALL SHOULDER STRETCH

This is also a shoulder mobility stretch but it is a more static stretch I also tend to use at times. You simply stand facing a wall and put out your arms at shoulder with against the wall. You then step back allowing your upper body to go forward and let your arms lengthen until it is straight. pushing out your chest to feel a good stretch in the shoulders and chest and also upper back. You can do this as a substitute for the dowel stretch. You can do 4-5 sets of 30 second static stretches. This stretch is also great if you get neck and upper back pain.

 

 

GOBLET SQUAT GROIN STRETCH

This stretch is my personal favourite that I use to prepare before a squat. This helps to stretch the groin before the squat. So sometimes from sitting on the couch or the desk whole day causes the hips and the muscles around the hips to become tight. So if the groin muscles by the hip area are tight it prevents you from squatting to depth. So when squatting if you feel that your hips are feeling a bit tight I recommend this squat stretch.

You simply hold a dumbell in your hand and squat down staying in the squat position for about 20-30 seconds. I recommend doing about 3 sets of this. You can start with a light weight and increase the weight since the heavier the weight will give you an extra stretch but start light at first. Ensure that you are feeling a stretch in your inner legs. I recommend doing this as a warm up before squatting.Also do not let your elbows rest on your legs let it hang in the middle of your legs like the picture.

THE FROG STRETCH

This is a yoga stretch that also stretches the groin area and helps to keep the hips healthy so you can do this instead of the groin squat stretch.You can also do this when you have free time at home and when your hips feel tight from sitting long hours of the day. Especially from those who feel back pain , most back pain comes from sitting long hours because of tight hips.

 

THE ANKLE STRETCH

Before squatting I also do a stretch to improve my ankle mobility. People who lack ankle mobility will notice that their bodies tend to fall forward in the squat.This can lead to possible injuries if you fall forward in your squat with weight on your back. So when doing the Goblet squat stretch. Place the dumbell on your leg while in the squat position and hold it there for 20-30 seconds. So while in the squat position place the dumbell on one of your legs by the knee area and let the knees go over the toes. Then do the other leg and let the knee go over the toes but don’t let your heel come off the ground. Do about 3 sets of these about 20-30 seconds per leg. You can also increase weight over time as well.For those of you looking for further clarity on how to do this I recommend checking out the Youtube video ‘How To Stretch Your Ankles’ By SquatUniversity.

 

THE DOWNWARD DOG

This is also a yoga stretch that helps that helps with shoulder mobility and upper back mobility as well as ankle mobility! This is a great stretch and I do it before the gym when training chest and shoulders as well as on leg day for ankle mobility. You can do this on your free time as well.I recommend searching up how to this stretch on Youtube if you are not sure how to do them.

CONCLUSION

For any of the stretches that you need more clarity on I recommend checking out videos on Youtube to see how it’s actually done. I promise if you do these exercises it will prevent injuries and also help you feel healthier and stronger. For those of you interested in doing yoga I highly recommend doing it since it assists in your mobility. There are lots of yoga videos on Youtube as well! Thank You for reading!

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5 thoughts on “How Can I Improve My Form In The Gym?”

  1. It is timely article for me. I am 56 years old, started my online business recently, and sit in the front of computer more than 12 hours a day. After several months, I feel pain and stiffness in my body.

    You are absolutely right that I lack proper exercises or mobility as you mentioned. The mobility exercises you described in your post are perfect for me. I bookmarked the webpage and start some practice today.

    Thanks for your remind on taking care of my own body. We all know that healthy is everything, but in practice we forget about this.

    It is very kind of you sharing this helpful tips.

  2. Thank you so very much for this wonderful and timely article.  I’m at a point in my life where I’m getting older, I’m working on my computer a lot doing my blog and online marketing, and I am sitting more than I probably should.  I have been experiencing some stiffness, and I’m super excited to read about these stretches.  I think this is just was I need to limber myself up and get nutrients throughout my body to the areas needed.  I really believe that if I incorporate these into my daily routine, I will be limber in no time.  Thanks again!

  3. I am so glad that I found this article.    

    Lately, I realized that my flexibility and mobility have significantly decreased due to the amount of time that I’ve been sitting working on my blog.   The amount of time that I spend looking at my iPad and cell phone has probably compounded the problem.    My posture stinks….   

    I am glad that you suggested the name of a YouTube video that will show exactly how the dowel exercise is done.    I’m a bit confused on how I get the dowel to my lower back.  

    I’ll be printing this post out so that I can check off the stretches until I get them memorized.  

  4. Hi there, Daniel!

    Great post on how to improve your mobility. I especially liked your tips about bad posture. I too sit behind my desk for long periods of time.

    I looked at some of your Mobility tips and really liked the warmup that involves static stretching, dynamic stretching, and holding one position for an extended period of time.

    Fortunately, my mobility is pretty good and this sounds like a great pre-warmup before I hit the Gym.

    Cheers, Jeff.

  5. This is a helpful topic.  It focuses on some good recommendations to avoid injury and pain.  I wish someone had told me about this when I started to work out.  I am currently practicing yoga, so I appreciate that you included a promotion for it.  It is really helpful for stretching, for reducing pain, and for flexibility.  I think this topic is very important and your descriptions are helpful.  Since mobility in the gym is a vital part of a workout, I hope people will use these exercises to improve their form.  People who follow your examples will be glad they did so. I hope you do more on this topic!

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