The Only 4 Exercises You Need for Better Full-Body Mobility

illustrated gif of exercises for full-body mobility
Part of the reason your back hurts may be that you're not moving daily. This workout can help.
Image Credit: Morit Summers/LIVESTRONG.com Creative

This 31-day body-weight workout challenge will inspire you to move more, no matter your starting point. Get all the details on the challenge here.

Ever wake up the morning after doing a new or particularly tough workout feeling like you might not be able to get out of bed? That's the perfect time for a mobility session: a slow, gentle workout that takes your joints through their full range of motion while stretching your muscles.

Advertisement

Morit Summers, CPT, creator of Brooklyn-based training studio Form Fitness and host of our "New Year, Do You" Challenge, created this mobility workout to give your body that chance to recover in between strength-training workouts and to help you move better every day.

"A major reason that people have more aches and pains [as they get older] is because they stop moving their bodies and over time they lose some ability to move," she says. "Doing mobility regularly can help keep our bodies moving the way they are intended to move."

Advertisement

If you're doing the challenge, follow the weekly rep scheme below. If you're doing this workout on your own, increase or decrease the reps and sets based on your fitness level.

In between sets and exercises, rest for 20 to 40 seconds. You won't feel fully rested (like you were before your workout) but you should feel ready to tackle the next set.

Advertisement

Reps and Sets Per Exercise

Sets

Cat-Cow

Windshield Wiper

T-Spine Rotation

Spider

Week 1

2

5

10/side

5/side

5/side

Week 2

3

5

10/side

5/side

5/side

Week 3

3

5

10/side

5/side

5/side

Week 4

4

5

10/side

5/side

5/side

Week 5

4

5

10/side

5/side

5/side

4 Body-Weight Moves for Better Mobility

The "New Year, Do You" Challenge is accessible to all fitness levels. That's why we're providing a main move and at least one modification or variation.

Advertisement

In the videos below, you'll see one trainer — either Summers or her Form Fitness co-founder Francine Delgado-Lugo — demonstrating the base exercise along with a modification or variation from the other trainer. Choose the version of the exercise that works best for you.

Move 1: Cat-Cow (shown on right)

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Mobility Workout
Region Core
  1. Begin on your hands and knees, as Summers demonstrates on the right.
  2. Exhale as you round your back, pull your bellybutton toward your spine and tuck your chin toward your chest.
  3. Starting at your tailbone, release one segment of your spine at a time, relaxing through your lower back, mid-back, upper back and neck as you lift your chin upward into full flexion.
  4. Reverse the motion. Be aware of what segments feel stuck. Breathe into these spaces and remember to move slowly. That's 1 rep.
  5. Continue to move between cat and cow pose, letting your body move with your breath.

Modifications and Variations

If it's more comfortable, you can perform this move while seated (shown on the left). Sit up tall, place your hands on your knees and move between rounding and arching your back with your breath.

Move 2: Windshield Wiper (shown on right)

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Mobility Workout
Region Core
  1. Lie on your back with your arms out, like Summers on the right.
  2. Press your lower back into the ground to engage your core muscles. Keep your low back flat to the floor the entire time, not allowing it to arch.
  3. Lift your feet and straighten your legs toward the ceiling. This is the starting position.
  4. Press your hands and arms into the floor to increase your stability as you lower both legs to the left. Lower only as far as is comfortable.
  5. Brace your abs and use them to bring your legs back to the starting position before lowering your legs to the right.
  6. Continue alternating sides. Remember to keep your core muscles engaged throughout the movement.

Modifications and Variations

To modify, bend your knees to 90 degrees with your shins parallel to the floor to perform your windshield wipers (shown on the left). You can also limit your range of motion by only dropping a quarter or half of the way down.

Move 3: Alternating T-Spine Rotation (shown on right)

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Mobility Workout
Region Core
  1. Following Summers (right), start on all fours with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.
  2. Place your left hand behind your left ear, elbow pointing down to the ground.
  3. Rotate upward through your mid-back so you're looking up at the ceiling (or as far as you can comfortably go), elbow pointing up.
  4. Twist back to the starting position, hand still behind your head.
  5. Do all your reps on one side before switching.

Modifications and Variations

If it's more comfortable, you can perform the T-spine rotation stretch lying on your side (shown on the left). Bend your knees to 90 degrees and extend your arms in front of your chest. Open the top arm and reach behind you (or as far as you can go), then return to the start.

Move 4: Spider (shown on right)

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Mobility Workout
Region Lower Body
  1. Start in a high plank on your hands and toes with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to heels, like Summers on the right.
  2. Bend your right knee and bring your right foot up toward your right hand.
  3. Step your foot back into a high plank.
  4. Repeat with the left leg.
  5. Continue alternating sides until you've completed all your reps.

Modifications and Variations

To modify, place your hands on a bench, step or sturdy box and perform this move from an incline plank (shown on the left).

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

Advertisement