T Nation

Mobility for a Beginner?


As the title says, I am trying out oly lifting and in need of advice. What would you say are the most important mobility exercises for the two lifts?

Currently,I do shoulder dislocates and hip flexor stretch but I want to become really mobile and get better at the lifts. What should I spend some money on? Foam roller ? Mobiltywod? etc



I’d say just do the lifts. While the fancy exercises can have a place, I’m not a fan of them generally. Your individual anthropometry (genetics) may limit you. If you have a coach, or perhaps know an experienced lifter, have them take a look at your positions and give you some feedback.


Im short and borderline chubby, my strength lifts are good. I just struggle getting into a comfortable catch position in both lifts. I was only wondering whether there are ideal mobility exercises to get more loose and mobile in the two lifts?


not good advice if he can’t currently do the lifts… lol. Not everyone starts off with the ability to catch a full snatch. In fact, I don’t think most people do.

Scott, I would suggest you keep hammering the shoulder dislocates regularly. Everyone I’ve talked to who has had to increase mobility to perform oly lifts has said this is the best thing for shoulder mobility improvement. If you can perform overhead squats, do those too. That should be marginally easier than catching a full snatch. If you can work your way up to a solid 135 overhead squat, you’ll be in a great position to start really working on the oly lifts.



Well, actually, it is. If you look again, you’ll see I did mention that he have someone look at his positions. However, point taken, I may change my mind if I saw video of him. It can be difficult giving individual advice on the internet. He needs an evaluation so he does not do exercises that are not only worthless, but potentially dangerous.


how? you said ‘just do the lifts’. For me, when I was learning to snatch, I couldn’t perform a snatch with an empty bar, and I had years of lifting behind me. I could not hold a bar above my head while sitting in a squat. That’s why I was suggesting that, if he’s in the position I think he is, just doing the lifts is impossible.

And I also used the qualifier of IF he cannot currently perform the lifts, followed by my advice. If he can successfully complete a snatch, even with very light weight, I would likely agree more with you.


I think we’re splitting hairs. Please re-read my post. I said “generally”. You could be right. I’ve coached national champions, some extremely gifted with perfect positions and excellent technique developed in one workout. I’ve also coached some who had no business doing the Olympic lifts due to physical limitations (for example hip anteversion or retroversion, limb length/leverages, etc.) but just loved doing the lifts.

In my opinion, based on my experience, over forty years in the sport, fifteen of them as a competitor, I feel that many of these “special” exercises are simply for those coaches who make money training guys and are trying to justify their fees. Again, generally, not always.

He needs to have someone knowledgeable look at him for the best result. Either that or post video. I should have just left it at that.


Regarding the videos, Jon has average, at best, flexibility. Though I’ve seen him squat with his feet a little wider, in this video, if you look at his squat, his feet are too close together. Therefore, his hips are posterior. The limiting factor is his hip joints, not his ankles. Ideally, the hips would be between the ankles, which would allow for a more upright torso keeping the shoulders over the ankles. This eliminates the excessive forward lean which then requires increased shoulder mobility to move the bar rearward to the shoulders so a snatch may be saved.

In a perfect scenario, which most never achieve, if you looked at a lifter in the squat snatch position from the side, everything would be in a perpendicular plane, the bar, shoulders, hips and ankles. Most have the hips posterior to the ankles, shoulders anterior to the hips and bar posterior to the shoulders. All to varying degrees, but it is the hips that require the compensations above for balance purposes.

I disagree with Glenn regarding the value of the ankle flexibility exercise shown. It’s fine for what it is, but usually the problem is the boney architecture of the pelvis, acetabular angle, length and alignment of the femoral neck. There are some simple tests that evaluate retro/ante version of the hips, but CT is the best way to evaluate it.



Knees forward, hips between ankles, upright torso with the shoulders and bar in line with hips and ankles. Exceptional flexibility. Grip is narrow, but works for her because the bar is directly over her shoulders, not behind them due to excess forward lean of the torso.


You guys both proved a valid argument, I will have it looked at! @highpull I have seen many successful body types in weightlifting, especially in the usa , what would be your ideal lifter you could coach?



Only if she’s 5’3"!


I would not want to even think like that. As you mentioned, we’ve seen many excel, tall, short, long arms, short arms, short torso, etc. Obviously, a huge bodybuilder type with huge arms and shoulders will not be able to rack the bar in the clean, and may have difficulty getting a snatch in proper position overhead. So that guy is out.

We’ve seen tall and thin guys who snatched (90%) close to their C&J. Look at video of the world championships/Olympics on youtube. You’ll see someone who, if they had a better bottom position, could put 10kgs on their lifts. I think you go with you strengths.

I would look at speed, balance, flexibility for starters. The Russians (Soviets then) used to measure limb length ratios and spine length as part of their selection process. They included some very basic strength testing, press, dead lifts and jumps as part of that as well. So, they had data regarding what they were looking for. China does something similar as well.


interesting. ya, ive heard that starting the oly lifts with lots of strength can be a “handicap” in terms of progressing the 2 lifts for some people. I am far from strong but I lack certain things. Anyways, I will post more soon.


That is true, for example, I trained a guy who was a powerlifter, a very strong guy. He pulled like a dead lifter, hips high with shoulders too far over the bar, resulting in a bad swing. I wanted to break him down and start over, problem with that is, initially, he wouldn’t be able to lift as much until he ingrained correct motor pathways. He just wouldn’t wrap his head around the concept that, in the long run, he would lift more. He won a junior nationals, and medaled in a senior nationals, but, in my opinion, never reached his full potential.