These yoga poses double as dynamic stretches that will improve squat mobility by preparing your hips, shoulders, and ankles for optimal range of motion.
Complete this series as a dynamic warm up, then add in a few muscle activating exercises before tackling the heavy barbell work.
Downward Dog Flow
Start in a plank position with hands directly under the shoulders. Push hands into the ground as you raise hips up towards the ceiling and back towards heels. Guide your chest towards thighs as you stretch through the hamstrings and lower your heels towards the ground. Return to the plank position then drop your hips towards the ground as you extend your arms and lift chest towards the ceiling. Flow through each position 5-10x slowly.
World's Greatest Stretch
Step right foot forward and bend the right knee so it stacks directly above the ankle. Bring left hand to touch the ground and gently twist at the spine to reach your right arm towards the ceiling. Hold this reach for 5 seconds. Rotate your spine back to neutral and shift your weight into the back foot to return back to the starting position. Repeat the same movement with your left foot. Alternate sides and complete 5-10 reps each side.
Stand with feet wide apart. Shift bodyweight laterally into the right leg, bending at the knee and lowering into a squat with the left leg extended. Return to the standing position, then shift your bodyweight into the left leg, lowering into a squat and extending the right leg. Notice a deep stretch in the inner thighs. Repeat 5-10x, holding for 5 seconds on each side.
Position yourself on hands and knees, with wrists aligned under shoulders and knees aligned under your hips. Gently push back into Child’s Pose stretch with arms extended and hips reaching towards ankles. Allow forehead to rest on the ground the ground. Return back to the starting position on hands and knees. Complete this mobility exercise with toes curled under and then again with toes flattened, 5x each way.
Seated Hero Pose
This yoga posture actively stretches quads muscles, opens the knee joints, and increases ankle mobility which will all help to increase your range of motion in a squat. Kneel on a soft surface with your toes and tops of your feet planted on the ground. Knees should be wider than your hips and ankles should be in line with your knees. Sit back and rest your tailbone in the empty space between your legs. Hold this position anywhere from 2-5 minutes. To advance, gently sit directly on top of your heels to bring more of a stretch to your ankles.
Step feet hip distance apart, bend at the knees, and place forearms on top of the thighs. While keeping forearms on thighs, straighten your legs and let eye gaze go towards your legs. You should feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings. Keep knees slightly bent if the stretch is too intense. Hold hamstring stretch for 5 seconds. Bend your knees deeply to return to a high squatting position. Repeat 10-15 reps.
Stand with feet wide apart and toes turned out slightly. Bend your knees and lower into a deep squat, shifting bodyweight into the heels. Bring hands into a prayer position and gently press elbows against the inside of your knees to pry them apart. Holding this position, slowly shift your weight side to side, deepening your squat and widening your hips as you hold the position for 1-2 minutes. Repeat 3 times.
Close your eyes and breathe deeply in this yoga pose to encourage tense muscles to relax as you hold.
Overhead Squat Complex
This stretch is a great way to self-assess if you are ready to start adding weights to your squats. Take note of which part of this squat complex is challenging for you and determine what areas of your body need more work to improve squat mobility, such as shoulders, hips, ankles, etc.
Stand with feet wider than hips and toes slightly turned outwards. Reach arms up towards the ceiling and engage core muscles. Bend at the hips slowly until you can touch ankles. While holding on to the ankles, bend knees and squat deeply. While maintaining the squat, release the hold on ankles and reach arms up towards the ceiling. Shift body weight into the heels, hamstrings, and glutes as you return to a standing position. Repeat this exercise for 8-12 reps.
Try out these dynamic yoga stretches to improve squat mobility either as a warmup before barbell squats, as recovery yoga, or as a way to increase general body mobility.
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