Athletes who focus on mobility training, core stability, and movement efficiency will greatly improve their athletic performance. Athletic training should focus on movement, and address mobility and stability until movement is perfected.
The Problem With Current Training is Lack of Attention to Quality
Many young athletes want to show off how much they are lifting. They want to bench 225, squat 315, and deadlift 375.
These athletes will be encouraged to push through pain, as opposed to tighten up their technique.
The correct approach to improve is more about perfecting technique than it is about increasing weight. By focusing on perfecting your movement at lighter weights, you will encourage better gains in strength, and thus an improvement in athletic performance.
Mobility Training Improves Your Athletic Potential and Allows You to Lift More
There are certain muscles in our body that must be flexible in order for us to move with speed and produce force.
The 4 most important areas that need to be mobile are the following
- The Hips
- The Ankles
- The Thoracic Spine (T-Spine)
- The shoulders
Athletic performance needs to focus on a mobility training program that stretches all four of these areas. These four areas are important to performing all of the compound lifts.
The squat requires good hip, ankles, and T-Spine mobility
The deadlift requires hip and T-Spine Mobility
The bench-press requires shoulder and T-Spine Mobility
These are just a few examples, but if you study any athletic sports movement, you will notice that mobility is required for perfect movement.
Athletic Performance Also Depends on Your Core Stability
Producing force and executing efficient movement depends on our ability to stabilize our core.
Core stability enhances our ability to maintain good posture while we are jumping, running, or moving laterally.
Without good posture, our athletic performance will decline. Imagine a sprinter who is twisting his back from side to side.
Although he is exerting himself 100%, the energy will leak laterally, instead of propelling him forward. Instead of 100% athletic performance, we will end up with maybe 75%.
For this reason, it makes more sense to stabilize our body. The most important parts of our body to stabalize are the following
- Our feet
- Our upper back
- Our glutes
- Our internal core muscles
When we are running, we rely on our core to prevent rotation of our spine
When we are jumping, we rely on our core to prevent extension of our spine
Pushing and pulling relies on our core and upper back to prevent protraction of our shoulders
And when we are moving from side-to-side we rely on our glutes, core, and feet to prevent rotation
To improve athletic performance, focus first on mobility, then on stability.
Stability and Mobility Training is Key to Injury Prevention
Stability and mobility training allows are body to exhibit full range of motion without injury. If I am going to stretch out and reach for a ball, having proper flexibility allows me to stretch without pulling a muscle.
Mobility training also allows a baseball pitcher to wind his shoulder back and swing the ball faster, since the wind-up will be greater
Mobility training ensures that the effort you put in, translates into strength and power, without risking injury.
Now imagine you are am NFL running back. You break through a hole in the offensive line, and you have an open lane.
You accelerate, and all of a sudden a linebacker spins in front of you. You must plant your foot into the ground, slow yourself down, change direction, and cut to the left.
You plant your right foot, shift your weight, and quickly accelerate again.
The act of acceleration, deceleration, and change of direction is the core’s job. Without a stable core, quickly decelerating can easily lead to knee injury.
In fact, the #1 cause of ACL injuries is though to be lack of core stability, and in many instances this happens in sports in which we need to decelerate and change direction.
By incorporating core stability training into your training, you are bulletproofing yourself from knee injuries.
Stability training goes hand and hand with Mobility training. While some of your joints are tight and need to be stretched, other joints are weak and need to be stabilized, as discussed above. This is a vital component to moving correctly.
Prioritize Mobility Training at the Beginning of Your Workout
A good workout should start with some form of mobility training. I like to start by taking five minutes to foam roll all the tight areas of my athletes.
This usually means paying special attention to the quadriceps, T-Spine, and upper ankles.
After foam rolling, we immediately focus on static stretch holds of between 10 and 30 seconds. This is because after releasing the tight muscles with foam rolling, we want to lengthen the muscles for the duration of the workout.
So I may foam roll the hamstrings for 30 seconds each, then perform 2×20 second hamstring stretches on both sides, before moving on to foam roll the ankles and stretching the calve muscles.
Prioritize Core Training at the End of Your Workout
Towards the end of my workout, I like to throw in a core circuit that addresses the entire core.
This could mean front planks, side planks, bridges, and banded rows.
It could also mean Pallof Presses, Single Leg RDLs, Push Ups, and Side Plank with Hip Extensions.
It really depends on where you as an athlete are in your core strength or core stability.
I put it at the end so as to not overfatigue my core, and jeopardize my athletic movement during the workout.
The 3 Simple Steps to Beginning Athletic Performance Training
When beginning your training you want to address mobility, stability, and movement.
1. Stability: Assess your level of stability and choose a core program that fits your level.
2. Mobility: Identify tight spots and release and lengthen them.
3. Movement: Analyze your movement patterns, and ask yourself with patterns need improvement.
4. Strength: If your movement is correct, add resistance either with weights, bands, or increasing time under tension.
Why I RARELY use Machines for Athletic Performance Training
There is a reason I rarely train my athletes using any machines or treadmills. They have almost no functional purpose towards sports or real-life. Performing well on a machine says nothing about athletic performance.
To begin to improve your athletic performance, pick an exercise in these following categories, and assess your ability to perform the exercise.
2. Single Leg Lunge or Deadlift
5. Wood Chopper.
With stability and mobility, we can move properly. We can improve our athletic performance and prevent injury to our knees, shoulders, and lower back. With a strong structure, we can load weight on top, building proportional lean muscle, that will leave you standing tall, and outperforming your friends in sports.
To learn more, check out my Free Online Fitness Courses