Workout Tips

Lift Doctor: Squat Mobility and Shoulder Training

The Doc's workout prescription for improving training performance and results.


“I broke my ankle 6 years ago and my mobility is very limited now. Squats are my favorite exercise but I am having a hard time getting to parallel unless I put a 2x4 under my heels. Any other suggestions?” – Tim Paulmert

Most people typically have really tight ankles. This can be responsible, along with tight hips, for not being able to hit deep squats. Previous injuries, unsupportive footwear, sedentary jobs, and poor hydration are typically the contributing factors. Here are some strategies you can use to open up your ankles again and get moving better.

Sled Dragging Variations

Sled dragging will help to get you anchored back to the ground and awaken your feet. It will also force your ankles into new angles and improve your range of motion. Try all directions; forward drags, backward drags, and lateral drags.

Hill Walking

Hill walking will force your ankles into dorsiflexion – the missing range of motion for a deeper squat. You will not only strengthen your legs, improve your leg drive, and up your work capacity, you will also strengthen your ankles through a wider range of motion.

Olympic Shoes

As a side note, Olympic weightlifting shoes can replace your 2x4 and offer a safer alternative. Because of the rigid and elevated heel, you’ll be able to compensate for lack of mobility at the ankles and maintain a better position when you squat. 

Specific Mobility

Pre-workout mobility drills are critical to performance and better form. Here is a great 4 exercise circuit that has worked wonders for my athletes. Hit this circuit before you squat, and in between your first couple of sets during the workout.