During Why Can't I Squat That Low? (Part One), which you can find here we covered how to free up the hip flexors by hitting them in a few different ways.
If you haven't already done so check that out as the hip flexors are usually one of the limiting factors in attaining a nice looking, efficient and powerful ass to grass squat.
In this article we are going to cover the best mobility exercises to improve external rotation or abduction through the hips. This will carryover into improving our ability to push your knees out while squatting so your hips can drop nicely in between your legs.
We are going to hit mainly the adductor group and groin area (as seen below) as these spots can get quite nasty, tight and restricted and many lifters don't even know it.
1. Adductor Smash on Rumble Roller
I don't like the term 'foam rolling' as it usually brings up images in my imagination of a mothers group having a nice foam roll and a chin wag after a spin class before they go to a cafe for a skinny warm 1/2 strength latte. And not that there is anything wrong with that, but if your goal is to improve function, mobility and ROM you need to be actively searching for nasty hot spots and applying enough pressure to work through them. This cannot be done on a foam roller, instead get your self a rumble roller, a firm Thera-roll, a barbell or some PVC pipe.
Now thats out the way, the adductor smash is a great way to start freeing up the adductors and get them functioning nicely again.
Check out the video below for how to set up and some quick tips. Shoot for 3 - 5 minutes each leg, and REMEMBER TO BREATHE. Try to take deep breaths and with every large exhale really let the implement sink further into the tissues. Also its not a race, move slowly on the roller up and down the leg and also side to side.
2. The Frog Stretch
This is a nice little stretch to really hit the groin area, I would recommend sticking some small pillows, folded towels or an exercise mat as seen below under your knees.
Start with your hips forward at about 90 degrees as seen in the top image. In that position aim to flare your knees out as wide as possible. Once the knees are flared slowly move your butt backwards for a greater stretch.
Remember to keep your chest up and your spine long, shoot for two minutes in this position, and move your hips back and forth/side to side to find those nitty gritty areas.
3. Wall Adductor Stretch
If you haven't tried this one, you are in for a treat. Grab yourself a set of power bands or a couple or towels/belts and wrap one around each foot, then simply pull down on the bands creating a delightful stretch. If you don't have bands you can also hang a light kettle bell around each foot to help pull the legs down a little further for a greater tissue release.
4. Side to Side Kettle Bell Squats
This is a great assistance exercise to include in a structural balance phase of your programming or to chuck on the end of your workout to get some extra hip external rotation work in.
You aren't shooting to use heavy loads on the exercise, the goal is more to stretch out the non working adductor group.
Shoot for 3-4 sets of 12 reps per leg and aim to get a little bit lower every set.
Make sure you test and re-test your squat positions after each mobility exercise to see which mobs have the most benefit for you and your restricted areas.
Now get out there and start attacking hip external rotation by freeing up the adductors / groin area and further improving your squat position.
Stay tuned for Why Can't I Squat That Low? (Part Thee) where we address the best mobility drills to improve ankle range of motion.
Train hard, train smart.