How Long Should You Mobilise For?
Many people in the powerlifting community mobilise. They somewhat know the value in doing it both before and after training. Most know it helps when thinking about reducing risk of injury and improving training performance. You will always see that person in the gym who either does not mobilise at all, or rolls out for 1 minute, then starts going at it with their working sets (hopefully they have completed warmups). Then there is the other end of the spectrum who mobilise for so long that it takes up majority of their workout, a lot of the time doing unnecessary things and probably talking.
What is the ideal amount of time to mobilise for a powerlifter? There are many variables that alter how long and what someone should be doing in their mobility. I will try to narrow it down so that you get a better idea on what to do when it comes to mobility.
The 4 things that should be on the mind of a powerlifter when doing their mobility before training:
- Are there any tight muscles in the body that are tighter than normal and may restrict movement in training?
- What muscles will be predominantly stressed throughout the course of the session?
- Are there any body parts that have been injured in the past and are prone to injury?
- Are there muscles that are known to be inactive during training sessions?
Tight muscles in the body, generally due to training just days before, need to be worked on to increase the elasticity of the muscle, then reducing the risk of tearing during a hard muscular contraction during a rep. The tight muscles may also reduce your ability to attain a proper position in the lift- therefore reducing your efficiency in the lift. Not fun.
Generally throughout the course of a session, you will use every muscle group in the body due to the nature of the compound lifts. You will however have exercises that will target more specific muscles (Squats- Legs, Bench- Chest). If you are training legs for example, or squatting- it would be a good idea to have a heavy focus on rolling out, releasing and activating the lower end of the body. Ensure you also target muscle groups that assist the legs in the squat, such as your abdominal activation and your lat activation (it’s a good idea to activate your abs and lats before any session as they are always used in your compound lifts).
The last point is linked to each other- Previously injured body part and a muscle that struggles to activate goes hand in hand. Generally an injury will occur due to a muscle being inactive and unable to support the load adequately when performing a muscular contraction. This can be in the gym or outside the gym. This injury then increases a muscle being inactive as the body will do its best to avoid any pain, especially if it hurts to use a weak/ inactive muscle. This then causes imbalances to occur, which diminish efficiency of lifting. You want the body to be balanced, inactive muscles cause the exact opposite. When targeting muscles that are weak/ inactive, you need to use a nice light load that allows the targeted muscles to work. Once they are active they are more likely to work during your lifts, allowing adaption of strength to occur.
Everyone should also static stretch at the end of the session. This will reduce the tightening of muscles post training and reduce the amount of time required to then prepare for training next time.
When talking in terms of duration of mobility, if you don’t have any tight/ injured / inactive muscles, then your activation and targeting of muscles used in the session will be required. However if you are broken like most people, then a lot more time will be required when mobilising to get you in a prime state to train and also reduce future risk of injury for yourself in the future.