Weight Training For Women. Step 2 – Improve Your Mobility

In Fitnessby Polina

We discussed how to strengthen our paws to hold onto weights, this post we’ll discuss how to regain the mobility to lift them with proper form.

This is more than just lifting weights – with improved mobility in ankles, hips and upper back, you’ll feel so much better in day-to-day life too.

One of the best ways to test this is with an overhead squat. It tests your ankle mobility, knee stability, hip flexibility and upper body control.

If you have deficiencies in any of these areas, the overhead squat can highlight, and even better, fix these.

This is quite a technical article so here’s a summary!

TL;DR
The Overhead Squat is a great exercise and assessment tool. Most people have a lack of mobility in their ankles, hips and upper back, and have weak butt and lower back muscles. Work on improving them all and you’ll feel fitter, move smoother, as consequence your posture will improve, so you’ll look better too!

How to do an overhead squat.

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms lifted directly overhead as straight up as you can.
  • Engage your core, this will help to avoid excessive arching in your back.
  • Take a deep breath and squat back and down. The movement is primarily at the hips – remember to go back and down.
  • Keep your chest up and arms overhead.
  • Squat down as far as is comfortable, then return back to the start position
  • Repeat twice

For the purpose of assessing your movement, you’ll want to record yourself performing the overhead squat, from both the side and front views.

Key points to spot.

  • Knees cave in. Check from the front: if you spot your knees caving in, this can indicate a weakness in your hamstrings or glutes, or tightness in your adductors.
    Overhead Squat - knees cave in
  • Excessive forward lean. Check from the sides: if you find yourself tipping forwards and your shins (and knees) don’t move forwards, so your heels come off the ground, this could indicate a lack of mobility in your ankles. If your shins and knees do move forwards and you’re still leaning forwards, this could be tight hip flexors or weak glutes.
    Overhead Squat - tight ankles
  • Upper back rounds. Check from the sides: if you find your arms drifting forwards or your torso leans forward and you are struggling to lift your chest up, this could indicate a tight upper back.
    Overhead Squat - Upper back rounds
  • Excessive arching of the lower back. Check from the sides. Usually a deep arch is an indicator of tight hip-flexors or a weak core.
    Overhead Squat - over arched back

 

Here’s what to do

If your knees cave in, try working on your hamstring and glute strength with cable pull-throughs, deadlifts or kettlebell swings. You’ll also want to work on increasing adductor flexibility with some side lunge stretches.

If you have excessive forward lean it could be a lack of mobility in your ankles. I recommend using a foam roller and stretching your calves. Also stretch your calves and squat barefoot to help improve the range of motion.

Rounding of the upper back and also excessive forward lean, could be down to a tight upper back. If you find that you can squat deeper and can keep your torso upright whilst your arms are lowered, this would be the first thing I look at. You should foam roll your lats and stretch them out.

Excessive arching usually indicates weakness of the core or tight hip-flexors, both common for desk-bound people. Stretch your hips! And practice your planks and hollows.

I’ll write a follow-up post next week with exercises to help improve your squatting! Keep your dials tuned to Meanfitfoxes 🙂