One of the most frequently asked questions that we get is “where do I begin?”.
Our personal advice is to jump right in! You’ll never know what you need to work on until you try the movements. Theres no point holding yourself back and putting yourself in that ‘beginners box’, so you never try anything that looks ‘too hard’.
We always say that if you’re wanting to get into flow-based movements, then you have to start with the basics, and that means owning each movement before piecing them together (that will come at a later date).
So I have put together three of our favourite introductory movements to practice in order to build your strong foundation and increase your mobility whilst you’re at it!
The Shinbox is a classic and one of our all-time favourite drills for unlocking/strengthening the hips. It also works both internal and external rotation of the hip at the same time, allowing the body to move through its ranges of motion.
It is perfect for transitioning into different movements, plus, the variations are endless!
Lets break it down!
Start in a seated position with both knees bent and maintaining a straight spine. Drop both knees down, toes touching and in line with the knee, whilst trying to keep the same distance as when you had your knees up. Turn your torso to face the direction of your knees, keeping your hips still. Reverse the movement and drop both knees to the opposite side and repeat.
From Shinbox, push up onto your knees with your legs still in the Shinbox position (extension) and squeeze your glutes, tucking your pelvis. Sit back down into the Shinbox without your torso leaning forward, turn your torso back to facing forward, bringing the knees back up switching over to the right side.
From the Shinbox Extension, place one arm on the floor to stabilise you, reaching your other arm up and over your head. Replace the arm, and bring yourself back into a Shinbox Extension, and with control lower back into a Shinbox and repeat on the other side.
[Try 2-3 sets of 6-8 Reps, rest as needed]
The Mountain Climber is a great way to gain strength and mobility at the same time, whilst also providing a great dynamic stretch for the hips, calves, and hamstrings.
You can either slow down this movement to focus on strength (recommended at first), or you can speed up the movement to challenge your conditioning.
Follow the steps below to improve your form and technique!
Start sitting back on your heels with your arms stretched out in front of you. Lift and bend the right leg, placing the foot outside of your right hand (your shoulder should be touching and in line with your knee), with the opposite leg extended behind you whilst actively trying to straighten the knee, creating a stretch in your hip flexor and hamstring. Make sure that your back is straight and your pelvis is un tucked so that your spine doesn’t round. Your shoulders should be down and back, away from your ears, and your chest proud. Return the foot so that you’re in a Plank position, and then sit back on your heels and repeat on the opposite side.
REMEMBER: You want to be aiming for a straight line by owning the position to maximise the strength + mobility gains.
You may find that your back leg dips due to flexibility, which is ok, so long as you actively push the back heel towards the ground. By continuing to do this, over time, you will gain the mobility to achieve that straight line.
NOTE: As illustrated on the last slide, we avoid lifting the arm up at the end of the movement, as we have found it does not provide any additional benefits in gaining additional strength, speed, balance or mobility and seems to be used solely for theatrics.
We have found by lifting the arm up it often breaks the foundation, as well as cause unnecessary rotation, which over time may cause a dysfunctional movement pattern.
[Try 2-3 sets of 10 Reps, rest as needed]
The Step Through is another one of our all-time favourite movements and although it gained popularity through “animal” based movement practices, the Step Through origins can be traced back to the warm ups, solo drills and movement prep of many forms of Martial Arts and combat sports, more specifically a variation can be found being performed in Jiu Jitsu and wrestling!
The Step Through is not so easy to perform and master. Engaging the core and maintaining proper stability through the exercise are only a few of the important steps to keep in mind during this exercise, which will really test your bodyweight strength, coordination, and balance.
Start by sitting back on your heels with both arms reaching out in front of you. Engage the scapulas by drawing your shoulders down and back, knees slightly off the ground and under the hips.
Bend the left leg and bring it up to the outside of your left arm (your shoulder should be in line with your knee), keeping your hips and shoulders square to the front, head in line with the spine, with the opposite leg extended behind you, creating a stretch in your hip flexor and hamstring (keeping the leg as straight as possible). Make sure that your back is straight.
Once the knee meets the arm, lift the back leg and take it through (in line with your chest), ‘Stepping Through’ to the front, lifting the same arm as the leg comes through, extend the leg horizontal to the floor, toes flexed (not pointed), hip in line with your stabilising arm, shoulder should be stacked on top on arm/hand with the opposite arm drives back (like you’re elbowing someone behind you) with a clenched fist pulling in the opposite direction.
Replace that leg back behind you into the Mountain Climber position, come back to a loaded position, and then repeat with the opposite leg.
As you can see in the diagram above, we like to maintain our strong structure by avoiding ‘breaks’ in form like bent elbows or rounding of the spine. Try to picture an ‘L’ shape, making sure that your stabilising hand is close to your hip.
[Try 2-3 Sets of 6-8 Reps, rest as needed]
There is of course no one right way of doing things, but we believe that these methods are a great place to start if you’re looking to build strong foundations and progress from there.
I hope that this has given you somewhere to start and something to work on! Remember not to be discouraged if at first you do not succeed. Consistency and repetition is the key to achieving your goals.
Start by incorporating these three movements into your every other day/daily practice, whether you use them to warm up before your main session, use them as your active recovery in between heavy sets, or on your days off to stay mobile and strong 🙂
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Thanks for reading!