For anyone looking to push past a plateau or improve their overall skills as an athlete (a.k.a. human), one of the best ways will be to take a look at your workout program to see what's missing.
We've noticed that the majority of people who workout, say 4-5 times a week, are missing a lot of key components to their workout programs. They aren’t dynamically warming up, working on mobility, properly recovering, and they don’t even realize that their training is lacking these essential exercises.
For example, you may go to the gym and do all the big lifts, but are you training for mobility? Explosiveness? Are you dynamically warming up and decompressing. And, dare I say...are you doing CARDIO?
If the answer is no to any of those, then this article is for you...
We are here to provide you with the tools and knowledge to help build a stronger foundation. All you need is an extra 1% of your day to add the following types of exercises to your workout program. That’s about 15 minutes a day!
These types of exercises boost your overall performance and the way you move and ultimately feel.
WHAT WILL THIS ARTICLE ADDRESS?
GOAL OF THIS ARTICLE:
To set you on the journey of moving better, feeling better, and looking better.
Now we’ll discuss 4 important types of exercises that we have noticed a large majority of people working out don’t do or don’t do consistently. They are methods/exercises that professional athletes and trainers use, and they are great for all levels of fitness.
We highly recommend employing these training methods into your current programming.
Remember, as a human you are an athlete (regardless if you play a sport), and enhancing your performance is the goal.
The number one mistake we see with people pursuing a fitter life is that they have an aesthetic-focused mindset towards fitness. Yes, it actually FEELS fantastic to LOOK great. However, equally important is being able to move at your best, which comes from mobility and flexibility training. If you want to be an all-around athlete, you must train for maximum mobility and range of motion.
HOW DOES RANGE OF MOTION AFFECT YOUR PERFORMANCE?
If you are a runner, and you have lots of power in your legs but your range of motion is much less than your competitors, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. Less range of motion equals shorter strides, which equals slower sprints…
Mobility really is key to life (or else we would be plants).
There’s a reason why Special Ops, the most badass guys on the planet, incorporate plenty of mobility exercises into their workout routines. By adding mobility exercises into your workout program, you will build a more durable body by decreasing tightness and alleviating muscle imbalances that often can lead to injury.
Sadly, mobility exercises are one of the most skipped aspects of training.
Because mobility is often misunderstood, let’s take a look at the definition:
Noun: mobility mo·bil·i·ty: the ability to move or be moved freely and easily without much stress on the body.
Now you may be wondering what’s the difference between mobility and flexibility?
They go hand in hand. The difference is... Mobility is the ability to move freely and easily. Stretching is just a key way to help achieve this, but not the only way. You need movement to unlock mobility.
Professional athletes train for mobility because it improves their range of motion in their joints and muscles.
For most of us that would be great too! Right? It also helps improve posture, everyday aches and pains, and it even boosts body awareness. Sounds pretty damn good.
The best thing about mobility training is…it’s never too late! And it’s not that difficult. Over time you will see an increased range of motion and how it positively affects your performance, and most importantly, your daily life.
WHEN SHOULD YOU TRAIN FOR MOBILITY?
Mobility training can be done as part of your warm-up before working out or you can do it within your training in the form of active rest. Mobility exercises can also be done as recovery from other forms of intense training.
Mobility Exercise Examples:
The 10 most important mobility exercises:
Mobility exercises for beginners:
Flexibility is an important attribute that pro athletes and trainers address before and after every workout.
Tom Brady has been discussing this for a while now.
“Pliable muscles are softer, longer and more resilient: they help insulate the body against injury and accelerate post-injury recovery."
Tom Brady told the Times, "If there's so much pressure, just constant tugging on your tendons and ligaments, you're going to get hurt. Like with a kid, when they fall, they don't get hurt. Their muscles are soft. When you get older, you lose that."
Strength training will tighten and shorten your muscles, so it is important that you stretch your muscles to lengthen them. It sounds really strange when put like that, yet it’s real.
To do this you must work on your flexibility. Athletes who lengthen their muscles see direct results in their performance and resistance of injury. Brady isn’t the only athlete who knows this.
Stretching is an effective way to prevent injuries and improve the way you perform and move. And It doesn’t require a super intense workout or a lot of time such as squatting and weightlifting to achieve desired results.
However, you must know how to stretch and when. Certain stretching should be done before working out, and certain stretching should be done after working out.
What does CERTAIN even mean? We are talking about two types of stretching techniques.
Athletes perform dynamic stretches during every warm-up, and static stretches after a long training session or when necessary.
Dynamic stretches involve movement and muscular effort to stretch the muscle. You should never hold a stretch for longer than 10 seconds. Dynamic stretching will have you constantly moving during your warm-up, which brings up your heart rate while increasing the range of motion in your muscles and tendons (great for preventing injuries). Dynamic stretches actively turns on and tunes in your muscles - forcing them into performance mode.
Examples of Dynamic Stretches:
What is Static Stretching?
Static stretching usually requires a hold of at least 20 seconds, with a 20-second rest. It will not bring your heart rate up to performance-ready level. Static stretching after an event will help you recover and prevent injury, however, if static stretching is done before, it can limit your body’s ability to react quickly. This can last up to two hours for activities like sprints or vertical leaps.
Both static and dynamic stretching can help improve your flexibility and mobility, which is clearly important in sports.
Some examples of a dynamic stretch would be leg cradles or knee hugs.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU STRETCH?
NOTE: Stretching should never be too painful. The focus should be on bringing the muscle to a point of slight tension. Continue breathing pattern throughout the stretch.
Ever wonder how some people display such explosiveness and power?
It’s all natural, right?
No, in fact, you can achieve some pretty outstanding results in explosiveness by doing plyometric exercises!
Noun: Plyometrics plyo·met·rics:
Also known as "jump training" or "plyos", are exercises in which your muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing your power (speed-strength).
Regularly incorporating plyometrics into your workouts will help you become a better all-around athlete…not to mention, get you mad toned.
Plyometric exercises improve your explosive power, vertical jump, body control, speed and strength. It also teaches how to stretch your muscles before contracting them when landing after a jump. The gains you can make will directly translate to your athletic performance, your workouts and daily life.
Examples of Plyometrics:
When performing plyometrics all of your muscles must work together in quick and powerful movements, this allows you to better control your body in an aggressive, explosive way.
When should I do Plyos?
Recovery is an extremely crucial factor in the best training programs. If you are training, you must decompress. This includes a plethora of different types of recovery tactics. None are extremely time-consuming or taxing on the body, although they can hurt a bit!
You already know to recover you must eat and sleep well so we will not get into that.
Recovery training includes static stretching and mobility exercises - which we got into above as the two deserve their own in-depth points and they aren't only for recovery - and what we are focusing on in point #4... Massage Therapy.
MASSAGE THERAPY, TRIGGER POINT THERAPY, MYOFASCIAL RELEASE
Muscle pain is definitely aggravating or at least uncomfortable for most. Whether that is a pulled muscle, tight or stiff muscles, dull pain, or simply sore muscles from working out. Myofascial release is an efficient and effective treatment option to relieve pain and get back to a full, comfortable range of movement.
HOW’S IT DONE?
Treatment involves applying gentle yet firm pressure on specific muscles and points of your body. Bigger equipment, like the foam roller is used to relax and relieve larger body areas, and a lacrosse ball or double lacrosse ball are perfect for targeting smaller areas.
We highly recommend getting a lacrosse ball or double lacrosse ball for trigger point therapy, as it is extremely portable and works really well. It’s like having a personal masseuse in the palm of your hand. All you need is yourself, a surface and that lovely, solid rubber ball.
You can find tons of YouTube videos on how to use the lacrosse ball or double lacrosse ball. Here is a training article/video we made for sore shoulders using massage balls and a light resistance band.
Rehab/Prehab exercises for your shoulders using the Steel Mace:
Kai Wheeler has a great functional training Youtube channel and here is a video she made on relieving hip, lower back and glute pain.
We recommend supplementing these 4 types of exercises into your current workout program. Whether your program is structured tightly or not, you can always fit these 4 methods in, it is only going to benefit you and improve your game.
And if you aren’t training at all, this is the perfect place to start.
The great thing is, for shy people and beginners, if you don’t want to do these types of exercises at your gym or in front of people when first starting out, you don’t need to. All these exercises can be done from wherever you please. Once you are comfortable with these movements and exercises, and you see the direct results, do everyone a favor and go out there and show off your athletic abilities!
You are a human, you are an athlete by nature, so go out there and live it!
Good luck! TRAIN HARD! The battle rages on…
If you have any questions or thoughts we’d love to hear from you.
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