How Mobility Made Me Stronger (and how it can do the same for you)


True physical strength makes life easier and more fun. It also transforms your body into something you’d be proud to display at the beach.

Unfortunately, many of us get derailed in our pursuit of strength due to injuries, stiffness, and pain.

Part of the reason for this is that folks just don’t appreciate what mobility training will actually do for them.

Even I used to think, “Why would I do that, when I could spend that time doing more deadlifts and overhead presses?”

Like many, I used to believe that mobility work was a waste of time, and even once bought into the nonsense that doing mobility training would make me weaker.

Mobility equals strengthI am here to tell you that I was WRONG. Dead wrong. Wrongity, wrong, wrong.

Not only did ignoring mobility training leave me battered and torn up, I started to actually get weaker. My lifts went down, and the number of exercises I could do pain-free also went down. I was at least smart enough to not do exercises that hurt me, but I was losing options–FAST.

Ultimately I was FORCED to really address my lack of flexibility and mobility, but if I had paid attention and taken action sooner, I could have avoided a lot of needless suffering.

Turns out mobility training actually SUPERCHARGED my strength and athleticism.

HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

It’s quite simple actually, and that’s the main thing I want to share with you today.

First, understand that how strong you are is based on TWO things:

1) The amount of muscle you have
2) How hard you can contract those muscles

Mobility training actually has a positive impact on these two aspects of strength training.

FIRST, how much muscle you build (and retain) is a question of diet, exercise, and hormones. When you’re stiff, sore, and in pain, your body produces stress hormones that burn muscle and store fat. By incorporating mobility training, you can prevent that right at the source. Building muscle also depends a lot on how much weight you can safely lift, as well as muscle activation. When you don’t have full mobility, typically there is also a lack of muscle activation. This is why physical therapists all over the world prescribe ACTIVATION exercises in conjunction with MOBILITY exercises.

So, through better activation, you stimulate more muscle, and each exercise you do will be more effective. To put it simply, you can build more muscle if you have a solid foundation.

SECOND, how hard you can contract a muscle (which is what produces force and let’s you lift large loads) is dependent on your nervous system. Your nervous system acts like a governor in a car–it won’t let you go faster than it thinks you can handle safely. If it perceives any kind of danger, it will make you weaker, stiffer, or feel pain. These are the 3 primary ways that your nervous system can communicate with you.

So HOW does your nervous system decide what is safe or not? That’s where mobility comes back into the picture. In order for your body to contract your muscles as hard as humanly possible, your nervous system likes to have things properly aligned. Proper alignment puts you in the most mechanically advantageous position. This tells the nervous system that you are ready to perform at the highest level physically possible. Having your joints in their ideal position is commonly referred to as Joint Centration. If you have joint centration, you will be able to do heavy or fast things safely and effectively. If you DO NOT, then your nervous system will (hopefully) slow you down, make you weaker, and prevent you from hurting yourself.

The best ways to incorporate mobility training into your current strength routine:

1) Do 5 Minutes every morning
2) Do a comprehensive joint-by-joint warm up (here are 3 moves you MUST do: http://maxshank.com/3-mobility-drills-everyone-should-be-doing/)
3) Splice it into your strength work supersets

In my opinion, you should do what I do, which is all three methods. Splicing mobility work into strength supersets has really been the “magic bullet” for enhanced strength gains. Not only will you see significant strength increases, but you’ll just plain feel amazing.

For example you could do a superset like this:
Thoracic Rotation (to open shoulders) x 5/side
Military Press x 5
Hip Flexor Stretch and Glute Bridge Combo x 5 breaths per side on stretches and 10-15 bridges
Deadlift x 5

Utilizing what I refer to in Ultimate Athleticism as “non-competing, facilitative supersets,” you can amplify the effects of your heavy lifts without fatiguing you. Double WIN!

If you’re like me, and love lifting weights and being active, DON’T make the same mistakes that I did. Prioritize mobility as a part of your daily routine. Just like flossing your teeth, you should floss your joints and take care of them, EVERY DAY. Make it a habit, take charge, and you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel and how much stronger you become.

Better every day,
-Max

PS: Confused and not sure how to start? I put a comprehensive Full-Body Mobility System together to help you mobilize all your joints, and amplify your strength. You can pick up a copy while it’s at a reduced price at www.5minuteflow.com

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