7 Stability and Mobility Exercises You Should Do Before Every Workout

Properly prep your body for an upcoming workout with these must-do stability moves and mobility exercises.

Young woman practicing yoga, doing Horse rider exercise, anjaneyasana pose, working out, wearing sportswear, black pants and top, indoor full length, gray wall in yoga studio
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Stability and mobility exercises seem to be having a moment — and not just for athletes. Many fitness studios now offer entire classes dedicated to helping weekend warriors, gym buffs, and beyond improve their mobility and stability. And for good reason: Moving your joints through their full ranges of motion and improving your stability can help keep your joints healthy, reduce your risk of injury, and keep your body moving pain-free.

Ideally, you should be practicing both types of movement before every single workout. But what is mobility, exactly, and how is it different than stability?

Boiled down to the basics, mobility helps your body function optimally. It benefits your everyday movements, helps correct your muscular imbalances, improves your posture, helps prevent injuries (especially overuse injuries), allows you to move more efficiently, and gives you a better range of motion during our workouts. So really, it does a lot. Essentially, mobility is ongoing, preventative maintenance for your entire body. Many associate foam rolling with mobility, and foam rolling definitely does benefit mobility by decreasing inflammation and adhesions within your muscles and connective tissue. But it's really only a portion of what you should be doing on the reg, and you should also mix specific mobility exercises into your routine.

As for stability? While stability and balance seem pretty synonymous, balance has more to do with proprioception — the ability to sense where your body is in space — while stability is more about being grounded and strong during movement (it's a big deal for runners, BTW). Some great examples of stability exercises include unilateral movements, like single-leg deadlifts, Bulgarian split squats, walking lunges, and single-leg hip thrusts.

To stay get the benefits of both, add these stability and mobility exercises from fitness instructor Alicia Archer, the yogi behind @kinkysweat and a Kohl's wellness ambassador, to your next warm-up routine. They'll help maintain and increase your hip, shoulder, and spine mobility, as well as boost your overall flexibility and strength over time. (BTW, here's the difference between mobility and flexibility.)

Stability and Mobility Exercises to Improve Flexibility and Strength

How it works: Do 1 set of each stability and mobility exercise for the number of reps indicated. Use this routine as a pre-workout warm-up or simply do them every day to improve your movement.

You'll need: no equipment required

Wrist Stretch and Knuckle Push-Up

A. Start in a table-top position with wrists under shoulders, knees under hips, and spine neutral.

B. Shift shoulders an inch or two forward, feeling the stretch at back of wrists.

C. Shift back to the starting position, then lift palms while keeping fingers on the floor. Lower back to starting position. That's 1 rep.

Do 8 to 10 reps.

Open Hip Lunge with Arm Circle

A. Start in a lunge with right foot forward and left leg back. Drop left knee to the floor to move into a low lunge, top of left foot resting on floor.

B. Press left palm into the floor at side and extend right arm in front of body. Turn right foot slightly so toes point out, then open hip by gently pressing front knee out to the starting position.

C. Slowly circle right arm overhead, then backward, down, and around to return to the starting position, keeping gaze focused at tip of right hand throughout the movement. That's one rep.

Do 5 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Arch and Curl

A. Start in a table-top position with wrists under shoulders, knees under hips, and spine neutral. Slowly arch spine, lifting chest and tailbone while lowering bellybutton toward the floor.

B. Draw belly button toward spine to round back toward the ceiling, dropping tailbone toward the floor and curling chin in to chest. That's one rep.

Do 8 to 10 reps.

Dynamic Frog Stretch

A. Start in a table-top position with wrists under shoulders, knees under hips, and spine neutral.

B. Drop onto forearms and slowly slide knees out to sides as far as possible, with knees bent at about 90 degrees. (Wearing knee pads helps.)

C. Slowly rock hips forward and back. That's one rep.

Do 8 to 10 reps.

Scapulae Push-Up

A. Start in a high plank position with hands directly underneath shoulders and legs extended, feet hip-width apart. Pull shoulder blades together, keeping spine neutral and elbows straight.

B. Actively press hands into the floor to open shoulder blades as wide as possible. That's one rep.

Do 8 to 10 reps.

Hollow Body Compression Breaths

A. Lie face-up on the floor with head and shoulder blades lifted, lower back touching the floor, and arms hovering at sides. Lift legs so knees are stacked over hips and bent at a 45-degree angle, shins parallel to the floor.

B. Inhale, then exhale to engage core and draw belly button toward spine. Work to keep low back neutral (pressing into the floor). That's one rep.

Do 8 to 10 reps.

Low Lunge with Integrated Push Back

A. Start in a lunge with right foot forward and left leg back, left knee hovering off the floor and both palms pressing into the floor, about shoulder-width apart, on inside of right foot.

B. Bring right foot back to meet left, send hips high, and press chest back, coming into a bent-knee downward dog. That's one rep.

C. Shift forward, stepping left foot forward to outside of left hand, coming into a low lunge on the other side. Then, step left foot back and return to downward dog. Continue alternating, straightening knees further with each downward dog.

Do 8 to 10 reps per side.

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