Having a strong body implies numerous things – lifting heavy weights, running miles and miles without getting tired, and so forth. However, this list cannot be complete without one keyword, and that word is mobility.
Is your body strong just because you have big and strong muscles? Not really. Size doesn’t make a body “fit” nor “strong” if there is no mobility to go along with it. That is why we decided to set aside the most prominent exercises to help you improve your mobility. This time, we shall focus on the upper body only: back, shoulders, and chest.
Additionally, these exercises will also help in releasing muscle tension, improving your posture, and preventing possible injuries. All of the above-mentioned tend to get stuck somewhere in the back of the priority list when it comes to fitness goers. We often neglect these elements since we
How to perform the exercises
In order to reap the benefits of these exercises, you should have a couple of things in mind so let’s make them clear.
First, the rep count. Opting for anywhere between 8 to 12 reps for each and every one of the exercises is our recommendation. Anywhere below these numbers won’t activate the muscles sufficiently. Why? Simply because these are all body-weight exercises and they are not as demanding as some other types of exercises. However, you will quickly find out that they are demanding in their own fashion, which can sometimes come as a not-so-pleasant surprise.
Next, perform two to three sets of every exercise. This should be enough to engage and eventually develop the muscles in the way we want. Naturally, as you progress, the number of reps and sets should increase too.
Lastly, if some of the exercises hurt or feel a bit off while you’re doing them then don’t push them. If something feels wrong then take a break, take a deep breath and try again. Perhaps you didn’t position yourself in the best fashion or that one exercise might not be suitable for you. Stuff like that can happen every now and then. No worries, there are plenty of other exercises out there for you to try.
Let’s see the exercises.
Kneeling/standing upward salute
The first on the list is the upward salute, be it in the standing or kneeling form. If you’re not in a position to kneel down then perform the exercise standing. The effect of the exercise should remain pretty much the same.
The upward salute will help stretch out your back and shoulders, body parts quite often stiff due to prolonged periods of sitting, for example. The breathing technique is important for the majority of these exercises. Taking deep inhales and exhales will significantly improve the wanted outcome.
Start by finding a comfortable spot, either sitting or standing. Your upper body should be straight, arms by your side with your hands by your hips. This is the starting position. Inhale and slowly raise your hands above your head, moving your arms laterally with your elbows extended. Once your hands come together, at the top of the movement, slowly exhale and bring your arms back to the starting position.
Reverse arm circles
This exercise is sometimes found in warm-up routines. It is useful for building healthy movement patterns of the shoulders. Regardless of the sport you’re interested in, you ought to do reverse arm circles as a part of your mobility training.
To begin, stand straight with your feet at about shoulder-width apart, or you may perform the exercise kneeling. As the name suggests, the point of this exercise is to move your arms in a circular fashion, engaging the shoulders completely throughout their given range.
Do not try to forcefully increase the range of the circles your arms make. Rather, let the arms dictate the tempo and do all the work. The width of the movement should stretch out even after a couple of repetitions.
Thread the needle
This stretching exercise is exceptional when it comes to thoracic spine mobility. However, it can also release tension in the shoulders, neck, and traps.
Start with the already mentioned kneeling position. Lean forward and extend your upper body for as much as it allows for. You should feel a stretch in your lats and shoulders. This is your starting position.
From there, move your right arm underneath your left armpit into a long stretch. Your right shoulder should touch the ground. Hold that position for a couple of seconds and then return to the starting position.
Now, perform the exact same movement but with the opposite arm. So, your left arm should go underneath your right armpit, and so forth.
This mobility drill is famed for improving posture, alleviating lower back pain, and any spine stress in general. Use it to your advantage!
We being the cat-cow by positioning ourselves in the so-called table pose. Both hands and feet are on the ground with the spine in a neutral position. First comes the cow pose.
First comes a big inhale, the chest comes forward and the belly goes towards the ground. Meanwhile, the buttocks should be moving in the opposite direction, facing the ceiling. Lift the head up such that you can look ahead, not above, and relax the shoulders.
Then, we go into the cat pose. Now, we want to invert the cow pose. Basically, the buttocks and the pelvis now turn inwards, while the spine and the shoulders face the ceiling. The head should be in a slightly tilted position towards the ground.
It takes some time to master this mobility drill since the movements are a bit counterintuitive. However, once you feel the notion of it, things will become way easier. You will later be able to focus more on breathing, perfecting the form, etc.
The scapular reach is paramount to correcting scapular cues. They can often be offset by poor exercise choices, heavy lifts, poor posture, and others. This is precisely the reason why you should get familiar with this one-of-a-kind exercise made for improving your back muscles.
To perform this exercise you may find yourself a mat, or you can use a chair. Begin with positioning yourself on your belly, both arms and legs extended like you wish to fly – just like superman!
Now, keep your abdomen tucked in nice and tight while you’re bringing your elbows to your hips. Feel your back muscles flexing and moving backward. Your chest will naturally move forward as a result. Try to maintain this position for a couple of seconds before moving back into the starting position.
Make sure not to go overboard with these. The exercises we’ve mentioned in this article aren’t your typical “reach hypertrophy quick” exercises. They require time, patience, and steady movement. They are not entirely about building muscle but rather something else.
The goals of this workout type are different. Sometimes we want to extend the range of motion of a certain muscle group. Other times we want to target and activate a sleeping muscle group. It depends on the exercise, but none of them require the excessive breaking of the muscle tissue.
Another important thing – do not force the stretching. If an exercise demands some sort of a stretch, don’t kill it. Stretch your muscles for as much as they allow for, not more, not less. Gradually, your muscles will elongate and allow for longer stretches. But, before that happens, you need to take it one step at a time.
Thank you for your time.