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Mobility for Lifters: How to Warm Up, Cool Down, and Lift Bigger

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When done properly, weight training puts a healthy stress on your muscles, connective tissues, nervous system, and skeleton. Proper training requires that you get the body sufficiently warmed up before any lifting session and you cool down afterward.

When it comes to mobility for lifters, it’s important to focus on the appropriate muscles and joints for the lifts you’ll be doing in any particular session. So, this article is going to provide you with several mobility routines for before and after specific lifts. These routines are demonstrated in videos, and all you’ll have to do is follow along.

I’ve focused on the big lifts that commonly show up in most strength programs:

  • Back squat
  • Deadlift
  • Press
  • Barbell row
  • Bench press

Note: I have not included the Olympic lifts because the elements required for these are a different type of preparation that I’ll address in a separate piece.

The emphasis in this article is going to be around the use of barbells, but a lot of what I’m going to show you can also be applied to kettlebells, dumbbells, or any other implement that can be used for these same lifts. While the tools may look different, the mechanics of your body are essentially the same.

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Mobility for Lifters (Who Want to Lift More and Be Injured Less)

Back Squat Prep

Often referred to as the king of lifts, the back squat not only builds muscle, but strengthens connective tissue, builds bone density, stimulates the nervous system, and works multiple joints at the same time.

Follow this video for a great warm up or cool down for your next back squat session:

Deadlift Prep

Deadlifts are very basic. Simply pick up an object and then put it down in a controlled fashion. Proper form in the deadlift is key to doing it safely. Proper mobility is crucial to being able to get into and then maintain a solid deadlift position.

This video will hit the major and less well-known parts of your body involved in the deadlift:

Press Prep

The press, or what some call the strict press, can be one of the most frustrating of lifts because of its emphasis on your arms and the lack of ability to include your lower body in the movement. The press is a great way to both build and assess your overall upper-body strength. But many of us lack the requisite mobility to do the press safely and effectively.

Follow this video for some before and after tips to getting the most out of your pressing sets:

Barbell Row Prep

Traditionally, the barbell row or bent-over barbell row isn’t one of the major lifts. However, I’m a firm believer it should be part of everyone’s training routine. Why? Because the muscles in the back of the body are what keep us walking upright and have a major impact on the quality of our golden years.

This video will help you ensure you get the most benefit from this oft-forgotten lift:

Bench Press Prep

I remember my own training in high school and how nothing made us feel as accomplished as higher numbers on our bench press. Unfortunately, many of us didn’t know the proper way to prepare for this lift (or how to take care of ourselves post training) to gain the most out of it. Consequently, avid bench pressing has resulted in many a shoulder injury and compounded the problems related to chronic sitting and bad posture. All is not lost, though.

The tips in this video can correct anatomical issues and increase your bench press benefits:

The Lasting Value of Mobility for Lifters

A good mobility routine is what will keep us lifting and thriving for years to come. I can’t stress enough how fundamental this is to good health, whether you’re talking mobility for lifters or mobility just for life itself. Regularly practicing your mobility is the same as flossing or eating your vegetables.

Take advantage of the gems in these videos and let me know what kinds of changes you see. Keep thriving.

Jeff Baker
Jeff Baker loves what he does — that’s the simple answer to why he became a coach. He gets to show up each day to work with wonderful coaches, watching his clients grow and prosper with new strength and health. Coaching allows Jeff to combine his enthusiasm for health and fitness with his love for teaching and opening people up to new experiences and possibilities.

As part of the team at The Whole Life Challenge, his goals are to endow our clients with a love for challenges and accomplishing goals. Jeff wants them to appreciate the perseverance it takes to achieve something of meaning and the feeling of accomplishment once they’ve done so.

Athletics and strength have always been a part of Jeff’s life. He has spent almost thirty years playing soccer and, in that time, put a lot of effort into developing his speed and strength, both on and off the field. When Jeff found CrossFit, he was working down the street from a small gym that was just about to open. Discovering CrossFit and beginning his career as a coach was a turning point in Jeff’s life he never saw coming, but it has been one of the best things to ever happen to him.

Jeff continues to derive a great deal of enjoyment in helping people achieve a better quality of life through health, wellness, and the community he works in. As Ghandi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Eight years ago, Jeff found out just how true that can be.