How to Develop Great Squat Mobility Without Stretching

November 27, 2015 by VAHVA Fitness

Developing good squat mobility should be a goal of any human, because it's important for overall health and almost any athletic endeavor.

Stretching can be a great way to improve your squat mobility and overall flexibility, but not many of us enjoy doing it. Stretching is one way, but not the only way. 

Truth be told, to develop amazing squat mobility, you don't even have to stretch - as long as you do the exercises correctly with the maximal range of motion.

4 Reasons why you should focus on squat mobility:

  • Squat mobility affects your overall health and especially the digestion health. 
  • Great squat mobility keeps your lower body bulletproof from injuries whether you lift in a gym or play sports.
  • Squat mobility transfers incredibly well to sports, martial arts and to almost any physical activity. 
  • Squat mobility is very important for your posture and structural balance. 

Many experts and personal trainers like to focus on small novel details: ankle flexibility, hip mobility drills and stretching. Although these play a part in squat mobility, you should first focus on the bigger picture instead of focusing on details. 

The bigger picture is what we are solely focusing on this article. The big compound movements presented in this article will develop a great amount of squat mobility and for most of us that will be more than enough.

If after months and months you are still experiencing problems with your lower body mobility, then the minor details should be worked on - not before, but AFTER you have tried to polish your squat. 

To develop squat mobility, the basic squat is the best drill for the job!

Focusing on minor details first may not only be beneficial, but they can also harm the overall squat structure by creating imbalances. 

Focus on Full Range of Motion Pause Squats

If you always do partial repetitions or only parallel squats, you won't suddenly develop the ability to squat ass to grass (ATG). 

Your squat mobility will improve on its own, as long as you do the exercises with the full range of motion (ROM). 

Every exercise in this article should be done with the full range of motion to produce the best results.

Partial reps have their place in training and polishing the squat, but most people would be better off focusing on full range of motion.

Spend 6 months working on just full ROM front and back squats and you will suddenly notice your squat mobility improving tremendously on its own. 

Moreover, all the gains you have made with stretching and mobility work, will be very easy to maintain by doing the leg exercises such as squats with the full range of motion.

Watch our video demonstrating the exercises:

Squat Mobility Drills for Better Squats

Front Plate Squat

plate front squats

Front plate squat is a phenomenal exercise to develop mobility in the lower body and also improve the core strength, because your abs need to work hard on this one. This exercise will also increase the flexibility of your lower back. 

Like with all mobility drills of this article, the key is to use the maximal range of motion you feel comfortable with. You can vary the stance, but begin with a shoulder width stance. 

Try to keep your trunk upright (it should be easy because of the counterbalance) and pause at the bottom. You should feel a nice stretch in your lower back.

Start with light weights like 5kg (10lbs) and gradually increase the load while your strength progresses. Your anterior deltoids (front delts) will also grow stronger the heavier plate you can hold onto.

Goblet Squat

goblet squat for squat mobility
goblet squats for squat mobility

Goblet squat is another great squat variation which will teach you how to stay upright. Instead of sitting behind (like with the back squat), it will teach you how to sit down

Core strength is heavily developed as well. The great thing about the goblet squats is that you can use heavier loads compared to the front plate squat. Pausing at the bottom is encouraged as well. 

Pause Front Squat 

pause front squats for hip mobility
pause front squat for squat mobility

Squat as low as you feel comfortable with and then pause at the bottom for 2 to 5 seconds. Nearly relax the lower body, and then push yourself up.

The key is to stay upright and instead of sitting behind, you are sitting down. It's okay to let your knees go past the toes.

The pause prevents you using the stretch reflex to help push yourself up from the bottom and as a result, more muscles fibers are required to fire. In other words, pausing at the bottom significantly increases the difficulty of front squats.

Your lower body is being stretched with the pause and your core is working hard to keep the chest up and the trunk upright.

Barbell front squat is one of the best strength building exercises for the lower body and core strength, which translates immensely well to sports and other athletic endeavours. 

Pause Back Squat 

pause back squats for mobility
pause back squat for hips

Squat as low as you feel comfortable with and then pause at the bottom for 2 to 5 seconds. Nearly relax the lower body, and then push yourself up.

Barbell back squat is another amazing lower body exercise that will build strength, size and athleticism like nothing else. Only the front squat can compete. 

The biggest difference with the back squat is that you are sitting back which means you are less upright compared to front squats and as a result, your hips, glutes and hamstring will get more work done.

Front squat on the other hand is a knee dominant exercise, which will heavily target the quads (front leg muscles). 

Playing Around in the Squat Position

bodyweight beginner squat
head squat mobility

Another amazing way to improve the squat mobility is to spend more time in the squat position!

The more you squat down in your daily life, the faster and better your squat mobility develops. One great way to develop squat mobility on a very fast rate, is to try to spend 30 minutes in the squat position each day. 

In addition to just squatting down, you want to try different stances and different hand position. Playing around in the squat position and practice your range of motion. 

Watch our video to understand how to play around in the squat position. You want to internally and externally rotate your hips and test different angles and range of motions of your hips and legs. 

With bodyweight work, it's perfectly okay to bend the lower back (you aren't in danger), but with weights it's recommended to try to keep your lower back flat to avoid injuries and damage. 

How to Do Squat Mobility Drills

I recommend doing all the squat strength work with the maximal range of motion.

You will build more strength and mobility this way. Unless you are practicing for a powerlifting competition, there isn't a reason to do partial repetitions.

You may notice that you need to seriously reduce the weight you've have been using with a smaller ROM - leave your ego at the door and do what needs to be done (full ROM squats). 

Squat Mobility Drills Sets x Reps

Front Plate Squats: 3 x 10 repetitions. 

Goblet Squats: 3 x 5-10 repetitions. 

Pause Front Squats: 5 x 3-5 reps with a 2-5 seconds pause. 

Pause Back Squats: 5 x 3-5 reps with a 2-5 seconds pause. 

I often do the front plate squats as a warm-up for 2-3 sets and 10 reps. They are a great way to warm up for any workout.

Goblet squats are also a complementary exercise I often do before or after my workouts for 1-3 sets. 

Take 1-3 minutes of rest between sets.

Train hard, stay safe.


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