|Good range of motion or freak?|
One of the objectives of the coaches at The Compound is to get you moving better. Moving better could mean moving more efficiently so that you do more work with less effort. For many of us, moving better means moving more correctly: moving the way the body was intended to in order to activate the right muscles and avoid injuries, and increase range of motion in basic lifts and body weight movements.
We have been talking a lot about taking weight off of the bar in lifts to concentrate on form and only increasing the weight when proper range of motion is achieved. Some of us are still working to increase the range of motion on basic movements such as the air squat and the push up.
Of the the things to think about in progressing toward full range of motion is that we must practice that range of motion, often times with assistance, before we become strong. Kelly Starrett of the Mobility WOD has said "New range of motion is weak range of motion." This means that as you increase your mobility you must also increase your strength in that new range of motion.
Take handstand push ups for example. A vast majority of us have been doing them with one, two, three, or even four Abmats stacked up. This is good in the sense that we are getting consistent depth every rep, but it is only good if we actively try and progress to fewer Abmats. What happens more often than not, is that we don't increase our range of motion and we never get rid of the Abmat and never do hspu's all the way to the floor (I am guilty of this myself!). Check out the following video of a way to get full range of motion on handstand push ups:
Now, posture aside (note the lack of hollow body position) this is an excellent assistance technique for the handstand push up. It allows the athlete to achieve a full range of motion while strengthening that range of motion. As the athlete becomes stronger, smaller bands will be required until he is able to complete hspu's without any assistance at all. This position also allows the athlete to practice being completely vertical rather than leaning into a wall.
The same technique could be applied for regular push ups, pull ups, dips, squats: almost anything. The same goes for locking out an overhead press, turning out the rings during ring work, or fully extending the arms at the bottom of a pull up. It makes no sense to get really strong in a shortened range of motion because when you increase your mobility you will have to take some huge steps backward before you can progress again.
Work your range of motion first and then add weight over time to strengthen that new-found mobility. It will make you a better athlete with better movement inside the gym and outside of it as well. bc