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Why Strength Can Solve Your Mobility Training Goals

sandbag training

Fitness can be INCREDIBLY confusing. There is so much being thrown at people that making something look valid, credible, and effective isn’t hard. Especially nowadays when we often see a sample size of one looking mobile, strong, and fit. That is why when I talk about developing a better filter, it’s easier said than done. However, one of the best ways I look at something as intriguing or something worth investigating more of is being aware of seeing a sample of more than one person. 

This is especially important when it comes to mobility training. Yes, we need to move well in order to load, challenge, and develop great fitness qualities. However, we also have to be a realist because the MORE I have learned about the body over the years, the more I have realized that lots of things can have an impact, but that doesn’t mean everything has the SAME level of impact or is addressing some of our biggest issues such as…..


Yes, when I speak to coaches that are facility owners or those working in gyms, the challenge is the same. How do we deliver something special considering we are SO limited by time. If we are lucky, we can see people 2-3 times a week for an hour. Even ourselves we are challenged by time. I know it can be difficult to make time for more than an hour several times a week by the time you throw in all the responsibilities of work, family, and being a person with more than working out on their table. 

mobility training

This 69 year old woman got more shoulder mobility in 3 exercises than in 2 years of physical therapy after having 2 COMPLETE shoulder replacements. 

I often joked that when I was in my early 20’s and single that I could spend the time doing everything and anything because I didn’t have too much else to do. That also meant I could sleep a lot, my stress was nothing like that of being a true adult, all that meant training could go on and on and on. 

That is why being a coach helped me develop that better filter. As I worked in the industry I had clients that didn’t have such luxuries, combined with issues of pain and dysfunction that all had to be addressed as efficiently and effectively as possible. So, instead of thinking “does this work”, I had to ask myself, “does this work BETTER” than what I was already doing. If I spent time doing one thing, that meant taking away time from doing something else. It HAD to be better and it had to be worth spending the time using. 

Fast forward to today and I see coaches missing this point all the time. They work on “this and that” for better mobility training and it might make a difference, typically a small one. However, they often aren’t blown away by their time in mobility training and that leads to people jumping around from one method or another. Sometimes that leads people to dropping mobility training all together which is a MAJOR mistake in of itself. 

mobility training

One DVRT exercise helped this massage therapist drastically improve her thoracic range of motion. Is there more to mobility training than grinding on people’s joints? 

That is why I spent much of last lecturing at all the national conferences why strength was the biggest solution to mobility training. Specifically, realizing how understanding what functional strength actually meant gave us major solutions. As you see below, the quote from world renown spine biomechanics expect, Dr. Stuart McGill, explains that strength in functional terms is about connections. Those connections are about the kinetic chains of the body that I have written quite a bit about on our blogs. 

sandbag training

Now that idea is not mine obviously. You see that these ideas of functional fitness make me so passionate about pounding the drums to get people to understand the true methods of functional training and how it can have dramatic influence on our mobility training. Why is that and how so? 

There is the idea of irradiation, also known as Sherrington’s Law of irradiation. Good ole Sherrington recognized that a muscle working hard can recruit surrounding muscles to amplify its strength and impact. Now, this is cool, but how does it work? If you stick out your right arm with the thumb side up and create a fist, you should feel tension down the arm, shoulder, even lats and into your trunk. That is irradiation! 

DVRT Master Cory Cripe shows how fast we improve shoulder mobility training if we just understand the basis of functional training. 

This concept makes you stronger, more stable and will have a huge impact to your mobility training. However, before I explain why, it is worth noting that more and more people are gaining aware of this idea but miss the details that make it effective or “eh”. 

For example, take your arm and do the same thing but turn your palm so it is facing the floor. When you create that tension does it feel the same? If you did it correctly, the answer is no! You don’t feel it down the arm the same, way less in the shoulder, and almost nothing in the lats and core. So, the position we place your body in to accomplishing irradiation for better mobility training is so key and not all tension is equal! 

You can see the difference in using tension with strength as coach Martin Adame shows in this DVRT drill that is all about building connections to make our mobility training smarter. Scroll through to see his results!

So, tension, just for tension doesn’t work. Not only does joint position and intent matter, but so does the type of load and tension we are creating. For example again, a lot of people are creating isometric tension to enhance their mobility training. This is not really new, but how we use it is important. Those familiar with the therapy system of PNF are familiar with contract-relax techniques. Basically, PNF realizes that our nervous system more than muscles can inhibit our ability to progress in our mobility training. Creating some tension for a small amount of time, combined with relaxation moments “tricks” our nervous system into allowing better mobility. 

That can help, but I always recommend people try this little test to see if the mobility training they are using really makes an impact. Do whatever mobility movements you want, then stand up and walk back and forth in a room for about 30 seconds. Retest yourself, did that mobility training movement stick or are you right back to where you were? Often people are right back to where they are. Why is that? 

Coach Adame shows once again how we can surprise people in what real mobility training can look like. Not only can we improve range of motion, we can build total body strength at the same time!

While they did a good nervous system trick, they didn’t cement a new pattern to help the nervous system understand how to keep the brakes off. That is what great mobility training is both strengthening and improving movement at the same time. The reason that our DVRT Restoration and even strength movements have such dramatic impact on mobility training is because we are training the nervous system and muscles how to function together in smarter ways. This results in the body getting smarter and learning how not reduce range of motion to create artificial stability. 

When you see the differences we make with lots of different people and the work that strength coach, Martin Adame shows, it isn’t JUST another form of mobility training, it is making it smarter and better! 

Learn more how we accomplish such amazing changes while still building towards our fitness goals. Our DVRT Restoration and L.I.F.T. certifications are both 35% on sale for our online courses. Just use code “holiday35” for this week only HERE!

mobility training