Group Strength and Mobility Program: Improve Strength and Mobility In Less Time

When you’re programming workouts for your group programs, especially for your elite clients or athlete, you’ll want to begin using tri-set and giant sets as opposed to sticking with a traditional super set.

One of the challenges we all face when programming heavier strength work into our group training programs is giving clients / athletes adequate recovery time to be able to produce optimal force during each set.

By introducing a mobility exercise at the end of a super set, tri-set or giant set, your clients / athletes will be required to take a rest and perform an exercise that will address an area that most of them (if not all of them) struggle with – mobility & flexibility.

Before we get into the application of mobility exercises in your strength programming, I want to first clarify that mobility & flexibility are not the same thing.  While flexibility issues pertain to any issue where increased tension is causing the problem (tight muscles), mobility addresses anything that may be causing a reduced range of motion.  Mobility issues can be related to tissue extensibility dysfunction (tight muscles), joint mobility dysfunction or a combination of both.

Applying Mobility Exercises Into Your Strength Blocks

Mobility exercises are a great way to not only improve your flexibility and range of motion, but also boost your strength-related performance in and out of the gym.  I absolutely love programming mobility exercises into strength blocks with all of my clients because it forces them to take the rest necessary to optimize their performance on heavier lifts.  While there are coaches who will advise against stretching between sets of strength work, citing a loss in power, the research to support any noticeable loss of power is minimal at best.  Additionally, I firmly believe that the benefits of addressing an area that is a significant weakness for most – flexibility & mobility – far outweighs any minimal loss of power that may occur.

When selecting which mobility exercises you want to program into your strength blocks, you will want to first consider the strength exercises that you’re programming.  If you have clients / athletes performing heavy deadlifts paired with overhead pressing, an ideal mobility exercise would be something that targets issues that would limit range of motion in the hips or shoulders.  Ankle mobility isn’t typically an issue when performing a deadlift, so that would be something you would address on a day when your clients are doing squats.

Here are some examples of how to program an effective strength & mobility block …

Strength & Mobility Tri-Sets

When programming strength & mobility tri-sets, what you’re essentially doing is taking a super set of two non-competing exercises and following it up with a mobility exercise.  The strength exercises will be performed back-to-back with minimal rest, followed immediately by the mobility exercise.  Here are a couple examples of strength & mobility tri-sets …

Strength & Mobility Tri-Set # 1:

  • 1A) Deadlift 6 x 4
  • 1B) Double Kettlebell Push Press 6 x 6-8
  • 1C) Active Straight-Leg Lift 6 x 30 seconds each leg

Strength & Mobility Tri-Set # 2:

  • 2A) Front Squat 5 x 5
  • 2B) Chin Up 5 x 6-10
  • 2C) Spiderman Pose 5 x 30 seconds each side

Strength & Mobility Giant Sets / Circuits

For your more advanced clients / athletes, moving to a tri-set of strength exercises will enable them to further improve strength & performance.  With programming tri-sets, there are a couple options you can use.  The first involves grouping 3 non-competing exercises – lower, upper & core – followed by a mobility exercise.  The second option would be to group 2 exercises working the same muscle group, split up by an exercise that works the opposite part of the body (lower vs. upper), and then following it up with a mobility exercise that addresses issues that would hinder performance on the exercise that splits the complementary exercises.  Here are a couple examples of strength & mobility giant sets / circuits …

Strength & Mobility Giant Set / Circuit # 1:

  • 1A) Deadlift: 5 x 5
  • 1B) Strict Overhead Double Kettlebell Press: 5 x 6-8
  • 1C) Dead Bug: 5 x 60 seconds
  • 1D) 3-Way Hamstring Stretch: 5 x 30 seconds each leg

Strength & Mobility Giant Set / Circuit # 2:

  • 1A) Front Squat: 5 x 5
  • 1B) Chin Ups: 5 x 6-10
  • 1C) Walking Lunges: 5 x 6-8 each leg
  • 1D) PVC Pipe / Broomstick Shoulder Dislocations: 5 x 60 seconds

How To Choose Mobility Exercise Rep Range / Time

When deciding how many reps or how long to perform a mobility exercise, take into consideration the strength exercises that are being performed, rep range of the strength exercises and the weight that is being lifted.  For the major lifts like the deadlift, squat and overhead press your clients will require at least 60 – 90 seconds of recovery / active recovery in order to optimize performance.

How To Choose Which Mobility Exercises To Use

The mobility exercises you elect to program into your strength & mobility blocks will be determined by a couple things …

  1. What strength exercises are being performed?  As I mentioned above, it’s not necessary to group a mobility exercise like ankle mobility with deadlifts as it won’t have much of a positive effect on performance in the deadlift as hip mobility & hamstring tension exercises.
  2. What mobility issues do you clients / athletes have?  If your clients have great mobility and flexibility in their shoulders, then performing shoulder mobilization exercises wouldn’t be the best option.  For these clients, shoulder stability exercises may be of greater benefit.
  3. What mobility training equipment do you have handy?  While some mobility exercises may require expensive equipment, most do not.  Bands, PVC pipes, a stable wall, a step, a bench and just body weight will do the trick for many of the mobility exercises that will serve to benefit your clients’ needs.

Examples of Effective Mobility Exercises

Here is a list of the mobility exercises that we often program into our strength blocks, as well as active recovery / conditioning days …

  • Active Straight-Leg Lifts
  • Spiderman Pose
  • Spiderman Pose with T-Spine Rotation
  • 3-Way Hamstring Stretch with Closed Loop Band
  • Squat Prying with Kettlebell
  • Ankle Rocking Against a Wall
  • Couch Stretch
  • Half-Kneeling Stretch with Closed Loop Banded Distraction
  • PVC Pipe / Broomstick Shoulder Dislocations
  • Bentover Overhead Stretch with Closed Loop Banded Distraction
  • Thoracic Extension Over Double LAX Ball
  • Thoracic Extension Over Foam Roller
  • Supine Shoulder Flexion Over Double LAX Ball
  • Thread The Needle Pose
  • Downward Dog Into Upward Dog Pose
  • Happy Baby Pose

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