Change your world with two mobility moves

Hi! I hope your weekend was just lovely. Mine was good. Dave and I had a friend in town for one night, which kept us out a little later than normal on Friday, but I was still up to teach BODYATTACK on Saturday morning. After that, I went to an Open Barre event at Avant-Barre and laid low in the evening, while Dave worked at a basketball game. Yesterday morning, I taught a bootcamp in a park and then enjoyed some more downtime and tacos for dinner. The fun of Friday night was enough for one weekend, and I pretty much felt like relaxing for the rest of it. Now let’s get to business for today. 

Do you need to improve your upper-body range of motion?

Over the past few months, I’ve started incorporating something called “mobility” or “corrective” exercises to the beginning of many of my workouts. Mobility exercises are designed to do just as you’d expect — help you be more mobile and correct dysfunction or tightness. When I first entered the personal training world, although I had been teaching group fitness for a long time and was physically fit, through a few assessments I found out that I had very tight shoulders and needed to work on improving my shoulder and thoracic (upper-back) mobility. And I’m not alone …

Limited range of motion in the shoulders and upper back is an incredibly popular condition, mostly because people are used to sitting hunched over at the computer, or they hold their stress in that area of the body. However, I’m pretty sure my case was worsened by teaching a ton of group fitness for years, with minimal stretching. I’ve changed my ways now, and with some concerted effort via foam rolling, loosening up using a lacrosse ball and staying consistent with a handful of mobility exercises, (which aren’t always fun), I’ve improved how well I can move my upper body, and it feels awesome.

Because it’s such a popular condition, I thought I’d share the two exercises that I’ve not only assigned to countless clients, but I’ve also been using on myself to improve my upper-body mobility. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to shoulder dislocates and W-to-Y on the wall.

How to do a shoulder dislocate with a tube

To do shoulder dislocates, you’ll need to grab a belt, a rope or a resistance tube. Stand with your feet hip width, brace your core and wrap whatever you choose to use tightly around your wrists so you can hold it taut. Hold your arms super straight and down in front of your body, with tension on the tube. Then, take the tube up and over your head, behind your body and back down, meanwhile keeping your core tight, chest up and arms super straight.

Shoulder mobility exercise via A Lady Goes WestShown above: The proper way to do a shoulder dislocate with a resistance tube, of course, the squinty eyes and cheesy smile are not required.

The hardest part of this move is keeping your arms locked and straight, because as you go overhead and your shoulders tense up, the first thing you’ll want to do is bend your arms. Don’t let them bend! The tube should touch the front of your thighs and the back of your thighs to complete a full range of motion. Do this exercise about 15 times in-a-row before you do any upper-body weightlifting, and in just two weeks you’ll start to see some results in how straight you can get your arms overhead, while keeping your shoulders down. Believe me, shoulder mobility is truly a beautiful thing.

How to do a W-to-Y on the wall

The next move does not require any equipment at all, other than a wall. Stand in front of a wall, with your feet hip width and heels back against the wall. Bring your arms up and bent out to your sides around shoulder-height, making a “W” position with your body. Keep your shoulders, elbows and the back of your hands against the wall, your chest up and core tight. Slide your arms up against the wall straight out and up until they make the “Y” position. Then return down to the “W,” maintaining close contact with the wall.

Shoulder mobility exercise WY on the wall via A Lady Goes WestShown above: The proper way to do a W-to-Y on the wall, followed by a shot of me testing out my shoulder mobility. Check out your own by trying to touch your hands up and back behind your body.

Repeat this about 15 times in-a-row before you do any upper-body weightlifting, and like the shoulder dislocates, in just two weeks you’ll start to see some results. And a word of warning: This one burns, but it really works. 

My shoulder and upper-back mobility still has a long way to go. With these exercises and some yoga, I’m hoping to be able to grab my hands together tightly behind my body on both sides one day soon, but right now, it’s still a work in progress. 

* Disclaimer: Even though I’m a certified personal trainer, I’m not your certified personal trainer, so ask your doctor before trying any new moves.

The first community-powered sportswear company

If you enjoyed my workout attire in these posts, check out Tribesports, the creators of it. Tribesports is not your average fitness apparel company. It’s community-powered and uses crowd-sourcing to create clothing designs and reward active people who exercise regularly by giving them discounts. The folks at Tribesports reached out to me about attending an event in San Francisco a few weeks ago, and because I was teaching my own class at the time I couldn’t go, so they let me pick out an outfit for free to test out on my own time. 

Ashley in Tribesports via A Lady Goes WestShown above: Tribesports Women’s Performance 2 in 1 Charcoal Shorts in size X-small and Tribesports Women’s Performance White Tech Tee SS in size X-small.

The verdict? The outfit fits perfectly, looks great and is unlike anything else I had in my workout wardrobe. Because there are little leggings under the shorts, I can definitely wear these to kick, jump and lunge when teaching BODYATTACK or any other cardio class. And the top is plenty long, which is something I look for in anything I’m going to move around in. Thanks, Tribesports, I’m very impressed.

Now since it’s Monday, let’s get to my usual recap of all the workouts I did the over the past week.

Weekly Workouts from A Lady Goes West

Weekly Workouts

  • Monday – Taught one-hour BODYATTACK class, foam rolling
  • Tuesday – Attended one-hour Hatha yoga class at Satori Yoga
  • Wednesday – Taught one-hour BODYATTACK and BODYPUMP classes, foam rolling
  • Thursday – Attended one-hour barre class at fitmob headquarters
  • Friday – Attended one-hour Barry’s Bootcamp Full Body class, foam rolling
  • Saturday –  Taught one-hour BODYATTACK class, took a 30-minute Avant-Barre class
  • Sunday – Rest day

What was good about my week of workouts?

Variety! I got in plenty of cardio, resistance training, yoga and even a barre class and-a-half this week, which meant every single workout was different. Also, I pulled back on the intensity of my workouts this week based on last week’s soreness by keeping it pretty light on Tuesday with yoga and on Thursday with low-impact barre. Sunday was a good rest day, although I did teach an outdoor bootcamp class and demo moves as we went along, but I didn’t participate in the workout. 

What could have been better?

Because I work in fitness and usually tend to do more working out than the average person, my problem is usually being sore from too much movement rather than too little. This week was a good line-up of workouts that didn’t run me down. The only thing that could have been better is perhaps a little more foam rolling. At least I spent some time doing mobility work (as shown above) and some massaging with my lacrosse ball

Alright, friends. I hope your week starts off fabulously. And hey, if you’re a little tight in the shoulders, why not give these mobility moves a shot? I’ll be back tomorrow for something non-fitness, so check back soon!

Questions of the day

How was your weekend? Did you have a good workout recently? If so, what did you do? Do you ever incorporate mobility or correctives into your workout program?

Ashley signature

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42 Comments

    1. Hi Sue, I’m sorry to hear about your injury. Maybe this is the perfect time to do a few correctives that won’t irritate your lower half? Hope you feel better soon and enjoy your Monday. Don’t get discouraged! You’ll be back at it in no time.

    1. Hi Lauren! Yes, years of a desk job made my issue worse too. It’s just so common. Glad to know you spend time doing correctives. I bet Coach Scott taught them to you! 🙂

  1. I really really really need to work on my mobility (and flexibility), especially in my hips and shoulders. I find my shoulders getting really tight when I swim or lift a lot, so much so that I’ll get cramps and muscle spasms! Thanks for these moves, I’ll try to incorporate them into my stretching routine!

    1. Hi Nicole! Sounds like you do need to spend time doing some fixes. Hope these work for you, because it’s a beautiful thing to feel more mobile. And enjoy your week!

  2. I really like these mobility moves, I’ve been trying to improve my lower body mobility but have been ignoring my upper half! I plan on incorporating these into my workouts 🙂 Better mobility will hopefully lead to better posture- which leads to a more confident looking person, right?! Thanks Ashley!

    1. Hi Jessie! Yes, it will be much easier to hold your shoulders back and down once you loosen them up. Let me know if you try these. Have a great Monday! 🙂

  3. The W’s and Y’s on the wall are great, I’m always super tight there as well so it’s a good stretch. I like doing those stretches on a foam roller too!

  4. These are awesome exercises, Ashley! I love that Les Mills is going this direction too–adding in mobility stuff to warmups and all that. I’m actually pretty flexible naturally, but I definitely need to do some of these exercises more often. 🙂

  5. Ashley, these moves are fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing them! My upper body definitely suffers because I just don’t know all that many upper body stretches. I will definitely be adding these mobility exercises into my workout.
    You look gorgeous by the way and the Tribesports clothes look fab!

    1. Hi Kelly! You’ll love Avant-Barre, and everybody needs a little shoulder mobility work! It may even help your upper body relax when you run. Hope you have a great week! 🙂

  6. I think your squinty eyes and cheesy smile are adorable! 🙂
    Seriously though, I’ve never even thought about doing mobility moves but it seems like they’re just as important as the rest of a workout. Plus I’m one of those people who sit hunched at my computer more than I care to admit so these would be great for me!

  7. After reading this yesterday, I happily incorporated the shoulder dislocates into my shoulder routine this morning. It was a little tight the first couple of times I went overhead but it felt good to do and I will have to see if this loosens up my back at all going forward.

  8. I could definitely work on my upper body and shoulder mobility! And crazy – but I’m only able to even touch my fingertips behind my body on one side. I had no idea how bad it was until I went through assessments at my training facility! Thanks for the reminder 🙂 Also, that outfit looks great!

    1. I know, Heather! It can be eye-opening when you go through an official movement assessment. I also have one shoulder tighter than the other, and I’m trying to fix it.

  9. The timing of this post is perfect. I have been noticing that when I’m in Yoga class, I can’t really do anything where shoulder flexibility is needed. I just tried a few of these exercises right now and plan to stick with it. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Diane! Thanks for stopping by. That’s awesome. I’m so glad you tried these and I bet you’ll see a difference if you keep with them. I feel a lot better in yoga now that I’m working on my shoulder mobility. Have a good night!:)

  10. After a running assessment this year I started focusing on increasing mobility and flexibility and correcting muscle imbalances. I’m going to try this! My shoulders are definitely one area that I need to increase mobility.

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