Which Day Is Best for a Mobility Day Workout?

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A senior airman uses a foam roller for his back.
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tyler Kochlany, 39th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician, uses a foam roller during a physical therapy session at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Feb. 2, 2018. (Airman 1st Class Octavius Thompson/U.S. Air Force photo)

The mobility day has been one of my favorite workout creations during my training lifetime. I somewhat enjoyed doing bike workouts and even a spin class or two, and I sort of liked doing a yoga class here and there.

My creation of the mobility day was a way of combining the benefits of a non-impact cardio workout with the stretching and mobility of a yoga class. Think of my mobility day as if a spin class and a yoga class had a baby.

Repeat five times.

Bike (or other non-impact cardio): 5 minutes

Stretch, foam roll or massage tool: 5 minutes

That's it. A 50-minute workout that will leave you feeling like you did something, but usually walking out of the gym with reduced pain and tightness. Here is a question on where to place a mobility day into your week from a convert to the workout:

Hey Stew, what is a better mobility day, Wednesday or Thursday? If I do it on Wednesday, I am able to get a better run in Thursday's workout, as opposed to doing the mobility on Thursday. I am just curious why you choose to do them on Wednesday or Thursday during different weeks. Thanks for answering. You are right. Mobility day has been life-changing for my 35-year-old body as a former athlete and 15-year active duty military member. Tom

Tom, I am glad you are liking the mobility day. Young and old can benefit from adding in a day in the middle of the week to focus on those often-neglected elements of fitness, flexibility and mobility. Besides helping you relieve pain, a mobility day also will boost performance later in the week. My adjustments of mobility days depend on the training cycle I am in, but also how I am feeling.

There are four things to consider:

1. Have a Floating Mobility Day

On a day where you feel you need to pull back because you're fighting a cold, got a poor night's sleep, had a busy travel day the day before or one later in the day, or are just feeling the aches and pains from new training exercises, feel free to bump your current day's workout to the right and add in a mobility day.

Some weeks, I have done multiple mobility days instead of skipping a workout. They make a perfect placeholder for your time slot, so you stay in the habit of training at that set time of day. If you start skipping workouts, soon you build the habit of skipping and get good at missing workouts. You can avoid that by adding in the mobility day as a floating option.

2. Strength Training Cycle

During strength cycles, many feel they need a mobility day in the middle of the week on Wednesday, as it makes an ideal gap day between an upper-body and lower-body day split routine. Through experience, our training group has felt the need to do mobility days earlier in the week for that reason.

3. Calisthenics and Cardio Cycle

During running, swimming and calisthenics workout cycles, I find that I don't need a mobility day as early in the week. By Thursday, the non-impact day is a good break from the running (or rucking) miles of the week and prepares you for the following longer run days of Friday and Saturday.

4. Rest Days

These mobility days are essentially rest days, albeit an active form of rest. Call it a rest day or a deload day where you have reduced normal activity.

In a seven-day week, you can do one of these in the middle of a training week or at the end (Sunday). My recommendation is to do one on Wednesday and Sunday during lift cycles (or day 3 and day 7 of a training week). If you're in a training cycle focused on calisthenics and cardio, try it on Thursday and Sunday (or day 4 and day 7 of a training week).

You can choose which days to do these magical training days. To be honest, you will see performance and recovery benefits, no matter where you place them in your week. Give them a try, and you will see they are indeed life-changing.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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