How to Increase Range of Motion
by Evelyn Valdez·
If you want to reap the most out of strength training exercises, having a good range of motion (ROM) is a must! Range of motion refers to the measurement of movement around a joint or muscle. Basically, your range of motion is how far you can move a muscle or joint when stretching or moving.
But why is it so important in strength training?
Having a limited range of motion means that you're unable to move a specific muscle or joint through its normal range. This reduces your ability to perform an exercise which can lead to ineffective results. On the other hand, moving through the full range of motion will help you lift effectively, activate more muscle fibers, and lead to better muscle-building results!
So, start improving your training performance by working on increasing your range of motion! Keep on reading to learn more about how to increase range of motion, plus get a list of mobility exercises that will help you improve it.
Ways to increase range of motion
Important compound exercises, for example squats and deadlifts, require a good range of motion in order to reap the benefits. Neglecting to go deeper on your squats will only hold you back from maximizing your lower body gains. But not to worry, follow our tips below so you can start improving on your ROM!
Don't overdo it
When it comes to doing anything, you always want to start slow. Let's say you're already performing barbell back squats with decent form, but you want to work on going deeper. Take a step back and start by doing deep bodyweight squats or dumbbell squats. Don't jump in and try to deep squat with the weight you're already squatting with, you'll possibly injure yourself!
Always take it slow, so if you're already lifting heavy, but you want to work on your ROM – take a step back and lighten the load. Increasing ROM and improving flexibility takes time, rushing will only increase your risk of an injury.
Don't forget to cool down
Everyone knows how important warming up is and takes the time to do it, but warming up won't necessarily make you more flexible... it'll simple prepare you for exercise. To truly improve your flexibility and range of motion, take the time to stretch after your workout.
Implementing static stretches after your workout will help your body go back to its usual resting state and release the tension in your muscles so they can recover. Foam rolling is also another great way to release the stress and tension from your muscles.
Another great time to stretch is before bed! Stretching helps increase muscular length, so doing it before bed will be the last thing your nervous system remembers before going to bed. Sleep is also when your body is in repair mode, meaning your muscles and tissues are healing in an elongated position.
Stretch every major muscle group and joint
This one is similar to the tip above and should already be a given – but remember to stretch! Stretching at least 10 minutes a day will help lengthen and loosen your muscles and joints which promotes greater flexibility and an increased range of motion.
To ensure you're stretching properly make sure you're hitting every major muscle group and joint. For your warm-ups focus on the body part you'll be working, but after your workouts stretch your entire body so that you achieve full-bodu flexibility. And make sure to incorporate a wide range of stretches!
There are two main types of stretches – static and dynamic. Static stretching is the one most are familiar with, it involves stretching a muscle near its limit and holding it for 30 seconds or more. This helps release muscle tension to avoid stiffness post-workout. Examples of static stretches are the standing hamstring stretch, triceps stretch, pigeon pose, etc. Dynamic stretching involves performing active movements that make you move through the full range of motion. This type of stretching is better before a workout because it helps loosen up the muscles and joints to prepare them for movement. Examples of dynamic stretches are deep bodyweight squats, leg swings, bodyweight glute bridges, etc.
Just like with working out, be consistent! Not only with your stretches, but be consistent when practicing your range of motion on exercises. For example, if you're working on going deeper on your squats, consistently practice squatting lower and lower as the weeks go by. Being consistent with the exercises you're working on and stretching will help your muscles and joints reach greater ranges of motion as time goes by. Aside from that, try different modifications and variations of the exercises you're working on improving to help your muscles move and stretch in a variety of planes and angles.
Learn how to breathe correctly
Many may not think this is important when it comes to range of motion, but it is. Maintaining control of your breath is important when performing an exercise because inhaling and exhaling too quickly can cause dizziness and even muscle cramps. This will interfere with your form, limit your movements, and negatively impact your range of motion. The same can happen when you hold your breathe!
To breathe correctly while lifting weights, make sure you're exhaling when exerting force while lifting the weight then inhale on the way back as you're preparing for your next rep. This will help ensure that you're performing the movement correctly, with power, and to the best of your abilities.
All of this will help you on your journey to increasing your range of motion, improving your ability to perform important exercises, and most importantly, achieve the muscle and strength-building results you deserve!
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