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8 Great Mobility Improvement Drills: ideal as a warm up to your workout


Fitness on 25th

By Fred Dyck, Fitness Manager, YWCA Fitness on 25th, B.Sc. P.E.

Looking for a basic warm up routine to prepare you for your workout? Try these great eight mobility drills. You can do these every day. These drills can be part of your warm up or just do them after a long day at work to help you unwind. This routine was borrowed from the T-Nation web site and is an effective warm up routine for just about any level of fitness. Follow the link below for more information.

Before commencing with the routine below, I suggest you should complete some form of cardiovascular warm up. This can be five minutes on the bike, skipping rope, the rowing machine etc. In our functional fitness classes we often go for a short jog. This cardio time will start to elevate your heart rate and begin the warm up process.

1: Mini Crunches on two tennis balls taped together:

These mini crunches will improve the mobility of the thoracic section of your spine. Perform mini crunches with the tennis balls underneath yourself. The tennis balls should be under your thoracic area of your spine and do not have to travel down to the lumbar area or above to the cervical area. I have three sets of tennis balls taped together for this purpose by the Fit Desk in the Weight Room. See picture #1 to see what these look like. Picture #2 shows me performing the mini crunch with the tennis balls at the top end of the thoracic region of my spine. The image of the spine above outlines where the thoracic region is on your spine.


  • Mini crunches
  • Head returns to the floor with every repetition
  • Hands come forward at 45 degree angle
  • Move the tennis balls up and down the thoracic spine area as you perform crunches. For example, complete five in one position and then shift the tennis balls a bit further up or down your spine and complete five more.

#2: Ankle Mobility Drill:

See Picture #3. Along with your knees, the ankle receives a tremendous amount of repetitions over the course of one’s life. Keeping this important joint healthy extends the limits of our functionality as we age and improves athletic performance.


  • Face the wall with your feet split apart. See picture #3.
  • Rock back and forth on your ankle. You are focusing on your front ankle.
  • Keep your front heel on the ground (ask someone to help by holding your heel down if your mobility is limited).
  • Try to move to the outside of your toes, straight forward and to the inside for each foot.

#3: Leg Swings:

See picture #4. This is a common drill but we are going to add one extra challenge to ensure the ankle joint receives some benefits. for this drill your leg is going to swing back and forth in front of your body as you hold on to the wall for balance.


  • Leg swings back and forth.
  • Have your stationary foot perpendicular to the wall as this will cause your ankle to have to roll from side to side for increased mobility.


#4: Split Squats:

See Picture #5. This movement improves sagittal plane mobility. Stand with feet split apart with one foot in front of the other. Complete a standing lunge-type motion by travelling vertically. Your back knee can travel close to the ground if your mobility and strength allows for this. Ensure to switch to having the other foot towards the front of your body.


  • Hands behind head, chest nice and tall.
  • Split stance with one foot in front of the other.
  • Bend down as in a lunge movement. Knee approaching the ground is fine.

#5: Lateral Squats

See picture #6. The lateral squat develops frontal plane mobility. Stand with hands clasped behind your head and chest nice and tall. Feet split apart but parallel to one another. Lunge into each side and return to the other side.


  • The wider the stance the easier this movement is.

#6: Rotational Squats

See picture #7. Similar to the lateral squat except that the feet are perpendicular to one another. This movement is a dynamic version of a groin stretch you may perform on the floor. A key point here for this movement and for all of these is you are not staying stationary as you would in a static stretch. The point of this routine is to prepare your body for your workout. Consequently, complete the movements while staying in motion.


  • Feet perpendicular to each other.


#7: Wall Slide

See picture #8. As referenced in the following web site, the wall slide accomplishes these two objectives:

  1. The wall slide focuses on the low trapezius, rhomboid and your internal & external rotators.
  2. Your chest muscles (pectorals) are stretched.

The wall slide is completed by standing with your back to the wall and your forearm set perpendicular to your upper arm; hands up above your elbows (see picture). Your scapulae should be depressed against the wall as close as possible. The movement asks you to extend arms up while maintaining contact with the wall (2nd picture is of the finish position).


  • Keep the back of your hands and forearms in contact with the wall at all times. This is what makes this movement challenging.
  • This movement is deceptively difficult for some (like myself). Continue to have your arms slide up and down a number of times to create an active stretching, mobility movement.

#8: Big X-Band

See pictures #9 and #10. This movement requires the use of a Theratube or band. It’s a very effective activator of your gluteus medius and the rest of your posterior chain. To get you into the starting position step on the rubber band with both feet. Cross the band in front of your body and extend your arms so your body creates an X (see picture). Now, keeping the band extended by not moving your arms, step sideways. The sideways step will activate the glutes and your posterior chain. The two pictures included above demonstrate the sideways movement with my feet close together and then apart as I travel sideways.


  • You need to perform this movement with a band you can successfully extend properly. Choosing a band with too much resistance can make this move very difficult or impossible.
  • Ensure to travel both to your right and to your left.

Not sure what we main by the posterior chain? In simple terms, the posterior chain is the set of muscles, tendons and ligaments from the posterior of your body.  Examples of some of the posterior chain muscles include biceps femoris, gluteus medius, erector spinae, traps, hamstrings and posterior deltoids. Coach Glassman, the originator of Crossfit, identifies that hip extension movements are fundamental to proper athletic performance and success. And the hip extension is accomplished by the activation of your posterior chain. If you would like to know more about the posterior chain here is one suggested web site to visit:

You certainly may need a demonstration of some or all of these movements. If you would like a demonstration, please do not hesitate to ask me to run through these movements with you.