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The 5-minute Flexibility Circuit Routine

This flow routine could be the secret to stronger lifts, mobile joints, and spending less time warming up.

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Lateral Monkey
Jay Sullivan
Lateral Monkey
Jay Sullivan

Max Shank, owner of Ambition Athletics in Encinitas, CA, is only a 185-lb guy—but he’s put up jaw-dropping numbers many hardcore lifters only dream of. For example, he’s swung a 465-lb kettlebell for seven reps, snatched 225lbs, and deadlifted 600 with ease. But despite his mind-boggling strength, Shank’s training resembles that of a yogi over an iron-pumping powerlifter.

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Mobility is the foundation; if you don’t have good mobility it’s impossible for you to be as strong as possible, and you can’t be fast or have good endurance,” says Shank, who developed a system called Five-Minute Flow. Best described as a five-minute sequence of isolated movements strung together into a series of fluid movement patterns.

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5MF is meant to kill the excuses of any lifter who neglects mobility. “It’s even more important for lifters who focus on time under tension, which makes you stiffer,” Shank adds. “Incorporating just five minutes of movements will translate to a greater range of motion, which can lead to more muscle recruitment, and a more prepared body, so you won’t have to spend 15 to 20 minutes warming up your entire body. Rather, you can just perform a Five-Minute Flow before you lift that focuses on your weak points. But above all else, it keeps you healthy.” 

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What it is

A five-minute series of mobility and flexibility exercises performed much like a yoga flow sequence. Shank suggests knocking it out when you wake up, or whenever you can spare five minutes. If you’re game to add time, go for it.

First, learn these five basic positions for improved joint mobility and flexibility. Then learn to use them all in a progressive flow routine.

Flow 1 

1. Deep lunge

2. Cossack squat

3. Thoracic bridge 

The pattern 

1-2-3  

1-2-3-2

1-2-3-2-1 

Pattern explained

From the deep lunge position, shift your weight back and pivot your back foot 90° while fully extending your front leg until you’re in the Cossack squat position. From there, place the hand that’s on the same side of your extended leg on the mat and bridge backward, extending your opposite hand back toward the mat to make a thoracic bridge. Then reverse the position. 

Flow 2

1. Squat

2. Lateral monkey (left side)

3. Lateral monkey (right side)

4. Thoracic bridge 

The pattern

1-2-4

1-2-4-1-3-4

1-2-4-1-3-4-1-2-4-1 

Pattern explained

Squat down and then perform the lateral monkey movement to your left. Softly land into the squat and then bridge backward, planting your left hand. Then reverse the movement and perform the same sequence on your right, this time planting your right hand as you flow into the thoracic bridge. 

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Routine

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The 5-Minute Flow Routine

Isolation Movements

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