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MOBILITY REQUIREMENTS IN WEIGHTLIFTING

Arthrokinetic reflex is defined by the way in which a joint movement and/or position can reflexively cause muscle activation or inhibition.

In any given movement an X amount of mobility is required. Some more than others, some close to nothing, and in some cases the requirements are closer to the supernatural. Where does weightlifting lay in this spectrum? In a scale between chilling in bed eating nachos and watching Netflix to getting yourself in a headlock using your own legs then weightlifting is probably somewhere in the middle. Like, being able to touch your forehead with your left foot as your itching the other foot with the left hand. What I'm trying to say is basically that the requirements are not extreme, yet, probably a tad higher than what most people deem to be average.

As a newbie to the sport of weightlifting, mobility is often seen as a challenge. Some struggle with the overhead position (especially if you're the "Chest Monday" type of person). While we're on the topic of overhead mobility, it is one of the most "unnatural" mobility requirement of the lot, as far as weightlifting is concerned. Humans are natural squatters. Our most basic and fundamental movement pattern is that of a squat. Look at any toddler and their amazing squat, we're all naturals. Overhead mobility, however, is quite something else. Yes, we do possess a good amount of mobility overhead from a young age, but since we never, like absolutely never ever, are required to do anything for our basic survival in today's society that is overhead we, and I mean everyone, will eventually lose close to all overhead mobility because we "don't need it". The same applies to the squat. We invented chairs and now we don't need to sit on the ground anymore when we're feasting, doing a number two, or socialising. And years later we struggle to flex our knees past 90 degrees... We might be the most intelligent species living on the face of the earth, yet, there is still quite a lot we still need to learn. Like, basic movement patterns. And for that mobility is required.


Mobility

As mentioned above, humans are quite the adapting machine. We can adapt to almost anything, just give us enough time. I'm not talking about being able to camouflage ourself so we can fade into any background so we can hide from our spouse. That will take a lot longer, but with the current demand of this feature it will probably be available in the year 4387. Think of mobility as you do with strength training, just try and follow me for a second. For someone to get a stronger bicep they have to push the bicep to a point where the body goes: "Dude, we keep using all of this effort into contracting the bicep, like every day we have to contract it to our maximum capacity, but it never seems to get any easier. How about we add some more muscle fibres, increase the overall neurological output for contracting the bicep and then we don't have to do as much next time" Lo and behold, when you then get stronger and realise that you're able to either do more reps, a heavier weight, and can finally impress your crush, your bicep still has to work just as hard as it did before it adapted the first time around. This cycle then goes on and on, until you get 21-inch arms and actually realise that big biceps aren't life after all... What a shame. The same holds true for mobility. You stretch your muscles/tendon and your muscle spindles go all anxious and fire a signal to the brain telling it to stop with all the nonsense stretching and tells it to contract the muscle so you don't get injured. This signal is what is called the stretch reflex, or reflex arc, by the way. You know, that funky movement you leg does when your doctor tortures your patellar tendon with a hammer. That's your muscle spindles doing what they do best, restricting unnecessary stretching to a tendon. Just like a muscle eventually gives up and adds more "strength" the muscle spindles will also give in and allow themselves to be stretched further. When this happens over and over, day after day, over a long period the muscle spindles eventually just go: "F*ck it, we'll just relax a bit more and allow you to stretch a bit further this time". And from that moment on you're more mobile. This then, just like with the muscle, happens over and over again until you have the mobility that is required. Just to clarify, the muscle spindles have a much bigger role in stretches that happen within a short time. Like, when you receive a clean and have to bounce out of the bottom position to be able to stand up, as oppose to a 30 second static stretch. It works in the same way for both scenarios but it's just way more effective in the faster stretch scenario... Moving on.

The best way to acquire mobility

There are loads of different ways to get more mobile. Static stretching, dynamic stretching, loaded stretch over time, PNF stretching, MET's, massage, the list goes on. Let me just say, ALL of them work. Just like a plumber and a lawyer both earn money from their line of work, yet, one of them will earn more money than the other. One method of getting more mobile might be better than the others and should therefore be used. But that one method that is really good for one person might not be as sufficient for another person. So saying that static stretching is the best way to achieve good mobility is wrong. It might be for some people, but certainly not for everyone. I will, however, tell you what is most likely to give you the best results in regards to mobility. First; Add stretching into your routine, any type of stretching is good. As long as you to something. Second; sit in the position where you want to be more mobile in, and keep sitting. Then add some weight to that position and sit some more. This is a well known scientific principle called the SAID principle. It stands for "Specific Adaptation Imposed Demands". It basically states that if you want to be better at something, do more of that something. In other words, if you want to get a better bottom squat position, sit in a bottom squat position and you'll get better. This is true, however, in some circumstances, this might take a while. And by today's standards, when waiting longer than 1 minute at the local ice cream stand for a double cone ice cream can lead to bloody homicide, we don't want it to take a long time. So to haste the mobility gain we can add weight to the position we're trying to improve. For the squat it's easy, just load the bar with some fairly heavy weights, make it look like your taking a dump on the sideway and wait as your pray to the mobility gods.


Long legs? Pray harder!

Weightlifting is a sport in which anatomical structures play a massive role in success. That is not to say that you can't succeed if your anatomical proportions aren't the same as the majority of the Chinese, but more that of the Vladimir character in the movie Hotel Transylvania, 30% upper body and 70% legs. The mobility requirements of a lifter in which the limbs are fairly long i