Gaining muscle is easy.
You go to the gym. You pick up weights. Weights which are fairly difficult to pick up in your current state. You repeat the picking up and putting down for 30–45 minutes. Then you leave. When you get home you eat a good meal and get some good rest. Then repeat.
Doing this process consistently will result in substantial gains. Especially in the beginning.
But. Muscle grows much faster than connective tissue grows.
‘Yeah, so what, I’ve got sick gains bruh?’
You’re right. You do. But how can you move?
Can you do a bodyweight squat (ass to grass) without falling over? Keep those heels on the ground.
How far can you raise your shoulders above your head? Now rotate them. When does it start to pinch?
These are two basic movement patterns which can be used to test how good your mobility is.
I used these two movements as examples because they use the two major joint systems in the body — the shoulder and the hip.
Our joints are built to last 120-years.
However, why do some the people who seem to go to the gym most often, have sore shoulders and tight hips?
It’s because the way most current muscle building protocols you find involve repeated 90-degree, up and down in a straight line, movements.
You may have gained some good muscle from performing movements such as the bench press, the shoulder press, the squat, the deadlift. And they’re all great, however they don’t account for one thing.
Our two major joint systems are ball joints.And surrounding these ball joints is plenty of connective tissue which isn’t as quick to board the gain train as your muscles.
‘Alright, I tried to squat to the ground but I fell over, how can I fix it?’
You can fix it by remembering everything in the body is connected. And just because you’ve built some good muscle, doesn’t mean you don’t have to take care of other parts of your body.
Poor squat form can come from tight calves.
Poor shoulder mobility can come from tight biceps and lats.
A sore knee can be from your tendon taking the weight because your quads don’t activate well enough when squatting heavier weights.
If your trainer has given you a muscle building protocol or you’re following one you’ve found online and it doens’t incorporate some kind of mobility work, add it in yourself.
Ronnie Coleman built some of the most impressive muscles the world has ever seen, but now he’s paying for it. Was it worth it? To him, of course it was. I bet he would do it all over again.
Build an epic chest. Get those guns pumping for summer. But don’t forget to bend before you break.Practice some movements outside of the 90-degree plane of motion and get those ball joints and connective tissues doing what they were meant to do.
A few of my favourites:
- Yoga — great for all different kinds of movement patterns, also shows you where you’re weak.
- Animal movements — lizard crawl, gorilla crawl, bear crawl, all of these involve using parts together which aren’t usually used together.
- Deep squat hold — lookup ‘Asian farmer’ on Google, this is your goal, hold this position for a few minutes every session. Hold onto a pole if you can’t.
- Hanging — grab a bar and just hang there for a period of time. This will help build those muscles which stabilise the shoulder.
- Rotations — you can do this whilst hanging but it’s a little more advanced, ease into it. Start by hanging on a bar, then move your head backwards whilst bringing your feet to come through your arms, your knees should come close to your head. Then bring your feet as close as possible back to the floor.
More mobility means less injuries means better training means better muscles.