• Call Us

Use the movement to get mobile for the movement

July 22, 2015

This is a a simple concept…but it works. If you are having issues getting into position for a certain movement, often times rather than spending an inordinate amount of time working on "mobility" and “foam rolling” you should just be practicing the movement or some variation of the movement you are trying to improve. This makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

I personally find when I don’t practice deep squats or snatches or single leg squats or other movements that require good mobility regularly I get tighter in those positions and lose the fluency and mobility that allows me to comfortably perform them.

If you struggle with squats and need to get more mobile to squat properly or more stable in the bottom of a squat, rather than just stretching your legs all the time, you will get much better results by practicing squat holds with a light weight or even just sitting in a bodyweight squat and pausing in the bottom. Get as low as you can and hold it. Try lighter weight pause squats as well. Get stronger in the range of motion you are trying to train, and by practicing it regularly you will become more mobile for it.

Many people mistake what is actually a lack of stability for a lack of mobility. They think they aren’t flexible enough when they just aren’t strong enough or stable enough to hold a certain position comfortably. If you're pain-free in a movement, but you’re having trouble in that position, you have to ask yourself one question: “Is stability the real issue rather than a lack of mobility? Am I just not strong enough in this range of motion to hold a good position?” If that is likely the case, practice the movement over and over.

If you can’t do the full range of motion or the full movement right off the bat, regress it to a variation of it that you can do with good form. For example, if you are trying to learn how to do single leg squats, start by doing a single leg squat onto a box. As you become more stable and stronger in the movement, lower the height of the box until you are able to go deep enough with good form and stability on your own.

Here is another example: If you struggle with the stability needed to catch a snatch properly, try adding snatch presses, snatch balances and pause snatches to your warm ups or extras every day. You can start with just a broomstick on these and then add some weight over the coming weeks when all the muscles involved in this movement are strong enough and stable enough to perform it. The same can be applied to front rack position problems. So often people ask me for stretches that can help out their front rack position, and while there are some that can be beneficial, what will be the most effective is practicing front squats and cleans (with a safe weight) and regularly putting your body in the position that you are trying to improve, no matter what level you are starting at.

These are all cases where doing heaps of extra mobility work will probably be less effective than actually doing the movement and putting your body in the position regularly. By doing the movement you are accomplishing two things: mobility AND stability. Firstly, you are becoming mobile in the range of movement by practicing the actual movement. And secondly you are becoming stable by building strength in that movement (adding weight as you get stronger).

Here is an example of me doing a press in snatch (sometimes called sots press). I have been doing these, as well as snatch balance (see further down) to try to improve stability in my overhead catch position. For the press in snatch, start with standing behind the neck snatch presses, and then move on to the squat variation. I am doing these with an empty bar as they are extremely challenging even with no weight added. And if the bar is too much at first, start with a broomstick.

My suggestion is to start with 4 sets of 12 and go very light (just a broomstick). Once you are comfortable with that, then you can add weight to build more stability.


And here I am doing snatch balances:


So remember, do the movement (or a variation or regression of the movement to start with) to get mobile for the movement. It’s a simple concept, but not always what we want to hear. There’s really no “magic stretch” that will suddenly make us a pro in these movements we struggle with. Practicing the movement itself is usually your best bet for improvement.



Join the other 10,000+ who get my best fitness, diet & mindset tips.