Are you having trouble with your squat? If so, you may need to do some squat mobility exercises. The body has a use it or lose it policy when it comes to mobility. If you stop performing mobility exercises, or if you change your movement habits, you lose your mobility. This is why leaders in the mobility world, such as Kelly Starrett, tell you to perform mobility work everyday.
The squat requires the most mobility out of every other major lift in the gym. If there is a problem with your gait, then it will show up in your squat. If you have a problem with jumping, then it will show up in your squat. This is why so many people stall out with very light weight on the bar. It is not a strength issue, it is a mobility issue.
It is fairly easy for a lifter to cheat their form on the other lifts in order to lift bigger weights. This is especially true for the deadlift. With a deadlift, the bar is placed in front of you and starts on the ground. All you have to do is lift it up. This simple movement allows the lifter to sacrifice their form and safety for the completion of a rep.
I can’t begin to tell you how many people I know who can deadlift a pretty good amount of weight, but have a terrible squat. Again the reason being is mobility. In this post, we are going to go over some squat mobility exercises that will help assist you in your quest to squat a house.
Squat Mobility Exercises
The pike stretch is very commonly seen in the performing arts, martial arts and even gymnastics. The lifting community hasn’t really seemed to adopt this exercise. Its a shame really, because this is one of the best squat mobility exercises around.
Sit down on the ground with your legs locked out directly in front of you. Now reach forward and aim for your toes. You should feel a huge stretch in both your hamstrings and calves. To make the exercise even harder, don’t let your back round. Perform this exercise on your off days for a max hold of up to 5 minutes.
The calves and hamstrings are always a problem for people just starting out with squats who do not understand how to perform the exercise. If the heels come off the ground, or the butt “winks” in the bottom position, then you should perform this stretch.
Modified Dolphin Stretch
The dolphin stretch is an adaptation of the asana called downward facing dog in yoga. The only difference is that downward dog is done on your hands, dolphin is done on your forearms. This exercise is often a precursor to handstands and forearm stands. We are going to modify the dolphin pose a little bit to make it more specific to squats.
Get down on the ground on all fours. Now place your forearms on the ground and raise your hips up and keep your back flat. You will notice that it is very difficult to keep your heels on the ground. So to deal with this we are going to work on one leg at a time.
Maintain the dolphin pose and take one leg off the ground and wrap it around the other. With the added weight of the other leg, you should be able to push your heel down into the ground. As long as your back remains flat and your knee stays locked out you should feel a deep stretch in your calves and hamstrings, especially the calves. Start with 30 second holds and then try to hold it for longer duration once this becomes easier.
Goblet squats are not only a mobility exercise, but also a strength exercise. The beauty about goblet squats is that they allow for greater range of motion compared to a regular squat. This makes them one of the greatest squat mobility exercises for beginners. Even advanced athletes can benefit from this exercise as well.
Aim to perform around 10-20 repetitions with a moderately heavy dumbbell. Focus on keeping your chest up, your back flat and your heels down. If you did it correctly, your legs will be very sore, NOT YOUR BACK!
Spiderman Stretch With Hip Prying
The spiderman stretch focuses our squat mobility exercises on the hip. If people sit down for too long, the muscle tissue in the glutes and in the hip capsule itself becomes stiff. This restricts the range of motion of hip flexion. To open up our hips even more we also incorporate the element of prying.
Get in a pushup position. Take a big step outside your body and try to get your foot flat on the ground next to your hand. Your heel should remain flat and your back knee should be resting on the ground. This is the spiderman stretch. Work on holding this position for 30 seconds before prying.
To pry your leg, simply push your knee out to the side until the inside part of your foot comes off the ground. You can do this anywhere from 5-10 times depend on how you feel. This allows for a deeper stretch on the hip capsule.
Lying T-Spine Windmill
Working upstream, we can now target the thoracic spine. Many people don’t realize this, but if the thoracic spine is not mobile enough for squats, the body will compensate by hyperextending the lower back. This can lead to a whole host of problems up the road. Unfortunately, most squat mobility exercises don’t target the thoracic spine quite so much. The t-spine windmill will take care of this.
To perform this exercise lie down on your side with your bottom leg straight and your top leg bent to 90 degrees and placed on top of a medicine ball, or something. Press your knee down into the ball. Place you bottom hand straight out in front of you, palm up. Take your top hand and put it on top of your bottom hand palm down.
Here comes the fun part. Lift your top hand straight up and over your body. Try to get it as close to the ground behind you as possible. It is important to note that your knee should remain on the medicine ball at all times. Now take your arm and try to bring it from behind your body to straight up over your head and back to the starting position. Keep your elbows locked out the entire time. To make this even harder take the medicine ball away and place your knee on the ground. Aim for 8-10 reps each side.