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  • Writer's pictureDat Do

Mobilising & Activation

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

If you want increased performance, utilisation of the correct muscle groups and reduced risk of injury then you want to perform a proper activation/mobility/warm-up routine.

You should be able to perform anytime, anywhere just like a firefighter would need to perform on a whim’s notice or if your child crossed the street into oncoming traffic and you had to make a dash to save them or if you slipped over something and had to catch yourself suddenly.

This is built off a foundation of regular training done with proper form and good mechanics. We can best achieve a positive stimulus to training through a warm-up because we all have parts of our body that get tighter such as the hips, shoulders and ankles which if mobilised can have a domino effect on our movement quality.

Equally we have muscle groups that can become dormant due to our sedentary lifestyle such as our glutes, core and upper back muscles that when activated will have positive effects to our daily lives and training.

· Stability before mobility.

· Proximal (closer to the centre of the body) stability before distal (further away from the centre of the body) stability.

The above statements speak of a truth that is often overlooked by most people. If you want to move well and have flexibility that sticks it should be strength led.

If you want greater hip flexor flexibility for example, you could stretch all day and get a temporary benefit but if you instead just activated your glutes which is the antagonist to the hip flexors, you will naturally induce a stretch of the hip flexors as a by-product.

This flexibility will stick longer because you’re getting into your desired position with the strength of your muscles which is called active flexibility or mobility.

Passive flexibility is where you’re holding a stretch or doing a partner stretch and relaxing into it with little to no tension.

Sometimes stretches whether solo or partner can be beneficial if it’s needed to get the desired muscles to activate which will make it stick however if you’re only moderately tight, the strength of your muscles can simply push your tight muscles into optimal length.

Stretching is not bad per se but I would only do it in the warm-up if you’re moderately to very tight and at the end of a training session to maintain suppleness since training a muscle usually involves shortening of the muscles.

The Warm-Up

Phase 1: Mobilise

If one of these areas are tight then you should mobilise them first before activating them. Keep performing sets as long as you feel like your range of motion is increased. Pick the exercise/s that works for you.

1. Thoracic

Thoracic Extension/Rotation x 10 Extension x 5 Rotation each side Kettlebell Halo x 5 each side Thoracic Mobility Series Thoracic Bridge x 5 each side

2. Hips

Deep Lunge with Rotation x 5 each side Hip Aeroplane x 3-5 each side

Cossack Squat x 5 each side

Phase 2: Activation

Pick one exercise from each category (shoulders only have one) and choose the one appropriate for your level. They are ordered from easiest to hardest. The aim is to activate, not fatigue.

1. Glute External Rotation/Abduction Banded Clamshell 1 x 25 each side Lock Clamshell 1 x 25 each side

2. Anti-Extension McGill Curl-Up 1 x 3-5 (hold the braced position for 10 seconds)

Front Plank 1 x 30-90s Hardstyle Plank 1-3 x 10s

3. Anti-Lateral Flexion Modified Side Plank 1 x 15-60s each side Side Plank 1 x 15-60s each side Windmill Plank 1 x 15-60s each side

4. Anti-Rotation Birddog 1 x 5 each side Shoulder Touch 1 x 10 each side

5. Glute Extension Single Leg Prone Hip Extension 1 x 10 each side Glute Bridge 1 x 10 Single Leg Glute Bridge 1 x 10 each side

6. Upper Back Activation Shoulder Big 3 A. Palms Up 1 x 25 B. Palms Down 1 x 25 C. T-Raise 1 x 25


Some exercises can target more than one category and can be done to save time but these should only be added in after mastery of the exercises in the category in isolation before combining them.

· Stir the Pot (2 & 4)

· Rolling Plank (2 & 3) 1 x 3-5 each side

· Side Plank Clamshell (1 & 3) 1 x 15-60s each side

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