T Nation

Poor Mobility Adjustments


Hi Jim. I've been following your programme now for some time with great results. I was wondering though whether you might have any recommendations for working around very poor lower body mobility?

I have begun doing daily flexability work like you suggest in beyond 531, and I am doing defranco work before each session, but I am still concerned that poor mobility is leading to dangerous form on the squat and deadlift. I have an excuse for this, I was born with two clubbed feet and there is only so much I can improve things, even with the additional mobility work.

I have been doing a sort of a rack pull variation for the deadlift. I have the bar starting around mid shin/ lower mid shin. The squat still is an issue. I find it difficult to get to even near parallel. Am I okay to keep going as I am, or would you recommend any substitutions? What do you think?


Have you tried box squats, start 2 to 3 inches above parallel do that for about 3 weeks at a certain height then lower it do that for the about the same amount of time, then try it without the box see how you do. remember you will need to find what works for you and lighten the load so you can get form in check. Also don't relax on the box stay tight the whole time, I hope this helps


I must look into them, thanks for your advice. I know it would probably be best for me to scrap the two movements, squat and deadlift, but I don't think a program would be much good without them. I think I can get by with the deadlift by raising the starting point just a little and pulling sumo style. I have been doing that a while now and it works okay. It's probably not optimal, but it has to be better than losing the movement altogether. I will look into box squats now. I have been doing them with restricted range of motion so far. Again, probably not optimal, but better than scraping them. I'm just worried that as the weights get higher the stresses will have more of an impact. And the weights are getting higher, this is an unreal programme. Been following it now for about a year or more.


Have you tried goblet squats? Dan John is an evangelist of the goblet squat movement for developing hip mobility and grooving in proper squat mechanics. My understanding is that he only progresses his trainees to barbell back or front squats after the goblet is solid. Seems a better option than loading up your back and grinding out horrid quarter squats....


I started on a trap bar deadlift, the bar had the elevated handles - that helped a lot. Jim said full range was better, so I did the Anderson method - I turned the bar over to use the flush handles but put the weights on stacked rubber mats and every week or two, I would remove a mat until I got down to the floor. I was then able to eventually switch to conventional deadlift from the floor, but I practiced the movement daily with 95lbs (I have 25lb bumpers) - the whole process took about 8 months.

I had a similar issue with squats and my low back and knees, so I did hip belt squats for 4 months and then took a few months to work onto regular squats at full depth, again with daily practice and watching lots of Mark Rippetoe videos on technique - which lead to removing the low back and knee issues.

The takeaway is that the guys above are all correct IMO in that you should pursue alternative exercises that you CAN train with full range now and continue to work on your technique and mobility to eventually see if it is possible to perform standard deadlifts and squats over time. Maybe it takes a year or two to reach this point, if you can do it, but that isn't much time at all in a life long endeavor.


Work at your current level now - do movements you CAN do. Do mobility work 3-4 times a day. Do this for 6 weeks, at the very least.
Remember this: if some guy spent 10 years being out of shape and weak, expect at least that much time to get it back. Attack the problem and realize IT WILL NOT CHANGE OVERNIGHT.

Good luck!


Thanks for all your advice. Jim, your mobility advice in beyond 531 is spot on. I have been doing your little daily routine, and I have begun using the defranco warm up work. I'm definitely noticing improvements. I'll take your advice and continue to attack the problem. Thanks.