What are the best mobility exercises?
Mobility exercises are movements that increase your range of motion and help to improve strength, balance, pliability, and flexibility.
This type of training is especially important as you get older and lose mobility over time. It can also make a big difference to those who have suffered muscular or skeletal injuries.
If you’re interested in increasing your mobility as part of a healthy, active lifestyle, then you may be wondering what the best mobility exercises are.
There’s no shortage of mobility movements to add to your workout routine, but we wanted to make it easier for you to focus on the most effective mobility exercises.
Here’s our list of the best mobility exercises to enhance your range of motion for full-body benefits.
The Best Mobility Exercises
Our exercise lists are created by determining the best exercises for muscle growth, core strength, and overall health and well-being.
Here’s our list of the 10 best mobility exercises:
10. Banded Ankle Mobilizations
Soothing sore ankles and increasing ankle mobility.
How to do it:
- Place a workout band around your ankle.
- Use a weight stack or exercise box for 8 to 12 inches of height.
- Elevate your banded foot and step on the rest of the band with your back foot.
- Put your weight on the back foot for a decompressing ankle stretch.
- Shift weight forward without fully loading, then shift back.
- Repeat 5-10 times as comfortable for your ankle.
Banked ankle mobilizations are ideal for improving ankle mobility and increasing the range of motion in ankles that have previously experienced soreness or injury.
By stretching the ankle without putting a full load of weight on it, you can decompress the joint to alleviate pain and hopefully make the ankle easier to walk on.
It’s important not to overdo it on banded ankle mobilizations if you have an injured ankle, as this stretch can be very soothing, but you want to give your feet and ankles time to rest.
If your ankles feel fine, but you just like this mobility exercise and want to improve your range of motion, you can certainly do it every day or at least before a squatting session to help you warm up.
9. Back Bridges
Note: The illustration shows the beginner progression for the back bridge. Start here before progressing to a full-back bridge.
Stabilizing the spine and strengthening the lower back.
How to do it:
- Lay down on your back and keep your arms to the side.
- Bend your knees with feet flat on the floor.
- Raise your hips off the floor while contracting your glutes and hamstrings.
- Hold for 3-5 seconds, then repeat 10 times.
Back bridges strengthen muscles in your lower back and hips, which helps keep your spine stable. They are particularly good for dealing with back injuries.
If you’re feeling sore after a workout, back bridges are great because they gently work the glutes and hamstrings to help with balance and strength.
Back bridges are an excellent daily mobility exercise that wakes up the glutes and hamstrings, so you can start with bridges before going into the rest of your fitness routine.
Also, back bridges work well in the middle of a workout to break things up, especially if you need some time to breathe after intense cardio or strength training.
8. Goblet Squat Stretches
Developing cardiovascular fitness and building muscle.
How to do it:
- Select a kettlebell and hold it upside down by the belly.
- Lower down into a squat with your elbows inside your knees.
- Drive your knees outward to increase the abductor stretch.
- Hold for 10 deep breaths.
Goblet squat stretches target the groin and hip flexors, helping with flexibility while strengthening hamstrings and glutes simultaneously.
This isometric hold is slightly more challenging than some mobility exercises, but it’s worth it for the improved hip flexibility and weight training.
Goblet squat stretches are a great warm-up, although you can add them into the middle of your workout, too, considering the added weight.
If you work out almost every day, it’s best to incorporate goblet squat stretches every other day as you build up your range of motion.
7. Passive & Active Hangs With Rotation
Improving thoracic mobility and mobilizing shoulders.
How to do it:
- Using a hanging bar, start in a passive hang with a relaxed back and engaged shoulders.
- Press deep and retract your shoulders.
- Keep your arms straight and rotate your spine for a slight arch in the active position.
- Hold this position for a moment with an engaged back, then return to passive hang.
- Repeat 5-10 times.
Passive and active hangs with rotation strengthen back, arm, and shoulder muscles, targeting the forearms and preparing the shoulders for more difficult movements.
This mobility exercise can help with shoulder pain, and it also decompresses the spine while developing your grip strength by making you hold on.
Passive & active hangs with rotation require muscle strength and are more challenging than other mobility exercises, so it’s best to put them at the start or middle of your fitness routine.
This type of mobility training is more geared toward engaging muscles than standard stretching and breathing, so consider doing passive and active hangs a few times a week.
6. Jefferson Curls
Protecting the back and helping with hip mobility.
How to do it:
- Stand on a thick mat or bench for slight elevation with a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell weight in your hand.
- Keep your legs straight and close together as you tuck your chin down towards your chest.
- Slowly round your back, focusing on one vertebra at a time.
- During this curl movement, let the weight pull you toward the floor.
- Maintain balance on the balls of your feet to stop from leaning back.
- Maintain a uniform curve through your entire spine, then pull your belly button in.
- Breathe and sink as low as possible with legs engaged.
- Reverse by uncurling the low back and standing up straight.
- Do 5-10 reps.
Jefferson curls give you an awesome stretch in your glutes, hamstrings, low traps, and lumbar fascia. It’s a protective mobility exercise that assists with back and hip mobility.
It also uses low-level loading for complete hip and back flexing, strengthening these muscles in different positions for a stronger, more balanced body.
Most people do Jefferson curls toward the end of a strength training workout, as it does involve weights and is a good transition into the cool-down.
You can do Jefferson curls several times a week for a thorough stretch ad further muscle development in the back and legs.
5. Archer Squats
Building leg flexibility and strengthening quads.
How to do it:
- Stand with your feet wide and legs stretched.
- Bend one of your knees as much as possible without falling, then slowly lower your hips.
- Maintain the stretch in the other leg, bending forward with pointed arms for balance.
- Strive for a straight back throughout the movement.
- Stretch your leg to push up into starting position.
- Repeat with the other leg for 5-10 reps.
Archer squats stretch the inner thighs, groin, hamstrings, calves, and ankles as a well-rounded way to boost flexibility.
Like the skater lunge, archer squats target muscles on the outside of the hips, glutes, and quads, helping to achieve more defined muscles.
Archer squats are a terrific stretch that boosts mobility, so you can do them before or after a workout, whether that be running or weightlifting.
It’s safe to do archer squats every day to obtain stronger, more flexible leg muscles.
4. Squat With Reach
Increasing upper back and shoulder mobility.
How to do it:
- Stand with feet just wider than shoulder-width apart and hands by your side.
- Engage core by drawing your ribs down toward your hips.
- Inhale and bend at the knees and hips, keeping upper legs parallel with the floor.
- Keep knees and toes in line as you exhale and push through to stand up from the squat.
- Press down to raise heels and extend arms overhead.
- Keep arms close to your ears as you reach up.
- Do 8-12 reps.
Squats are a great lower body exercise, but you can also get the upper body involved with the overhead reach.
This mobility exercise helps with flexibility by focusing not only on holding the squat and working the legs and glutes but also on using your shoulders and arms for the best reach.
Squats with reach are ideal for the middle or towards the end of your workout, as they do target the entire body.
Consider wrapping up a high-intensity session with this squatting mobility exercise before moving into calmer stretches for a cool-down.
3. Forward Lunges With Rotation
Engaging core and contracting glutes.
How to do it:
- Position feet hip-width apart with arms straight out in front.
- Step one foot into a forward lunge position with both knees bent.
- Rotate your torso and arms over the lead leg.
- Rotate back and stand up in a neutral position.
- Step forward with the opposite leg to repeat the process on the other side.
- Try to step into each lunge without a pause while at the standing position.
- Repeat 6-10 times.
Lunges are a terrific leg exercise, and you can further contract your glutes and work on flexibility with this rotating movement.
It also keeps your core engaged to build abs and improve your overall balance.
Forward lunges with rotation are an excellent stretch for cooling down and wrapping up a big workout.
Consider doing these lunges after a run, yoga, or weightlifting work to stretch your glutes.
Improving posture and balance and training breath movement.
How to do it:
- Start on your hands and knees in table pose.
- Maintain a neutral spine and inhale.
- Inhale and lift your back upward for cow pose.
- Press forward with your chest and let your belly sink.
- Relax shoulders as you lift your head and look straight ahead.
- Exhale and round your spine outward for cat pose.
- Tuck in your tailbone and draw your hips forward, hanging your head toward the floor.
- Repeat 4-10 times, depending on how much you want to relax and stretch.
Cat-cows are an excellent choice of functional mobility exercises thanks to the gentle movement and focus on spine flexibility and thoracic mobility.
This popular yoga pose softly stretches the neck and torso, strengthening the abs while opening up your chest.
It also encourages slow, methodical breathing to help you slow down and find your center.
Cat-cows are most common at the end of yoga sessions, but you can do them every day after a workout.
This mobility exercise is a great way to relieve tension from a sore back safely.
Because of the gentle mobility movements, you can incorporate more cat-cows into your training session or even do them as a quick stretch if you want to focus on building better balance.
1. Standing Roll Downs
Relieving back tension and restoring balance.
How to do it:
- Stand tall and face forward.
- Slowly tuck your chin down toward your neck.
- Continue steady motion by rolling your head, chest, and ribs downward.
- Keep your back round and your knees unlocked.
- When you get to your knees, pause for several breaths and slowly roll back up.
- Repeat 3-5 times.
Standing roll downs are a soothing stretching exercise that relieves back tension and restores balance to the body.
This rolling motion is important because it strengthens the ab muscles and encourages healthy blood circulation.
Standing roll downs also help to improve flexibility for Pilates and yoga.
As a suitable stretching exercise, you can do standing roll downs to get your body moving and stretch out your back or add them in at the end of a workout.
Many people use standing roll downs as a cool down after a yoga workout, although you can do them whenever and wherever as this mobility exercise is safe for daily use.
FAQs About Mobility Exercises
A proper mobility workout can help you achieve better balance, strength, and flexibility.
Learn more about mobility movements with our answers to the most frequently asked questions about mobility exercises.
Q: Why Should I Do Mobility Exercises?
You should make mobility exercises a regular part of your physical activity because mobility movements lengthen muscles and improve flexibility.
As you focus on arm, leg, and ankle mobility through different exercises, you’re training your muscles to move in different ways, which in turn improves your quality of life.
Mobility exercises increase your range of motion, which comes in handy not just during gym training but throughout all your daily activities, from work to family life.
If you want to feel more comfortable on your feet and doing any physical activity, then a dedicated mobility routine is worthwhile, especially when it comes to healthy aging.
Q: What Are Mobility Exercises Good For?
Mobility exercises are good for increasing thoracic mobility and improving overall strength, balance, and flexibility.
That’s because mobility movements involve diaphragm stretching and help with muscle recovery.
A quality mobility workout uses your body weight to work different muscles and build a better range of motion, improving your quality of life.
If you want to feel more comfortable and confident in your abilities to keep up with daily activities, then the best mobility exercises should be a priority so you can enjoy more flexibility and strength.
Q: When Should I Do Mobility Exercises?
A mobility workout routine can be part of your daily life, as many of the best mobility exercises are focused on stretching.
Mobility movements are preferred once your muscles are warmed up, which is why most people do them toward the end of a workout to help cool down.
By incorporating mobility exercises into your physical activity, you can maintain healthy joints and become more limber and agile.
Q: How Many Mobility Exercises Should I Do?
It’s up to you how many mobility exercises you want to do, but typically around 10-15 mobility movements are great after an intense workout.
Depending on how you feel and how much time you have, you can do more or less, although generally, 10 minutes of mobility training is sufficient.
Even if you don’t have enough time for the best mobility workout, you can still do a few standing stretches wherever you are to stretch out your body and release tension.
Q: Can You Do Mobility Exercises Every Day?
The great thing about mobility training is you can do it every day.
Whether you’re specifically targeting a certain area after an injury like ankle or hip mobility, or you want to improve your overall flexibility, daily mobility movements help.
Gentle bending at the elbow joint and knee/back stretching may not feel as intense as hardcore weightlifting or cardio, but it’s still just as important for ensuring you can move your body safely for years to come.
The more mobility movements you incorporate into your daily life, the more flexible and balanced your body will be.
The best mobility exercises focus on building your range of motion for greater flexibility, strength, and balance.
Mobility training benefits weightlifters, athletes, and anyone who wants to stay active and healthy.
To increase your ankle and hip mobility, focus on careful, controlled movements through mobility exercises that are proven to make a difference and help you feel better after a successful workout.
Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best mobility exercises:
- Standing Roll Downs
- Forward Lunges With Rotation
- Squat With Reach
- Archer Squats
- Jefferson Curls
- Passive & Active Hangs With Rotation
- Goblet Squat Stretches
- Back Bridges
- Banded Ankle Mobilizations
If you enjoyed this article, check out some of our other exercise lists: