Bodybuilders and Mobility part I

by on November 15, 2014

Bodybuilders and Mobility part I

By Alexander Cortes

Alexander CortesDefinition of Mobility
the ability to move or be moved freely and easily.

“this exercise helps retain mobility in the damaged joints”

Mobility is a hot topic in training currently, and probably one of the most misunderstood as well.

In light of recent questions I’ve gotten of “how to work on mobility”, it seemed appropriate to give everyone a working and sensible definition, especially relevant to a bodybuilder. To establish what we are talking about with “mobility” lets define what mobility is NOT first. .

Mobility Misconceptions

Firstly, the biggest fallacy I see is people having this belief that “mobility” is an entirely separate athletic quality from flexibility, stability, strength, etc.

Its not.

Mobility is very straightforward. Relative to the human body, it’s defined simply as being able to move.

Now, there are varying degrees of movement, but its not complicated as people make it out to be. You have the ability to move well, or not move well.

The reason that this DOES get confusing, is that people are argue over what constitutes “moving well”.

Because there are so many different sports, all of them will have slightly different “mobility” requirements. So while “moving well” is straightforward, it doesn’t mean that there is any fixed definition of what that “moving” actually is.

For example, a gymnast or competitive Olympic weightlifter are both going to have very different flexibility requirements and possess very different ranges of “moveability”.

However, you could still say that both of them need “a lot of mobility” and that they are both “mobile” athletes.
The takeaway is that there is NOT any universally accepted criteria of good/bad mobility. Mobility is relevant to the population you are working with and the needs of the particular individual.

Should bodybuilders care about mobility?

Absolutely. While bodybuilding may be purely hypertrophy focused today, that doesn’t mean that “mobility” should be tossed out the window.

Relative to a bodybuilder, there should be a focus on always being able to lift pain and free and with a healthy range of motion.

Now, up until the 1950s, it was common that many bodybuilding contests also had weightlifting or athletic contests as part of the judging for the bodybuilders. This is why many early bodybuilders were actual Olympic weightlifters.

Over the years, the posedown proved to be much more popular, and eventually replaced this entirely. But for a period of time, bodybuilders did have to focus upon still moving athletically, and not just looking like they could move athletically.

Now, as bodybuilders began to focus purely on hypertrophy, the classic and golden age look was still oriented towards looking “athletic and aesthetic”.

This changed in the 1980s and 1990s, when MASS really took over the sport

I bring up this history for a reason, as this orientation towards mass and aesthetics is what often creates “bad mobility” in bodybuilders.

No one wants to be in pain and unable to train, but because many bodybuilders don’t pay attention to how well they move, they end up creating major dysfunctions, and this leads to injury. Torn pecs, shoulders, hips that can barely hit parallel, super tight hamstrings, bad posture, shoulder and neck pain, pinched nerves.

While injuries are not 100% avoidable, they are certainly preventable through balanced training. When size at all costs is the goal and no mind is given to joint health or range of motion, then movement issues will crop up.

Now, the argument can be made that mass shouldn’t impede mobility, and I would agree! One can be very large and be completely healthy, but they also must train in a way that facilitates this.

More to come on this in part II