Tip: Improve Ankle Mobility

If foam rolling and stretching isn't improving your squat mobility, here's what to do instead.

It seems like nearly everyone has limitations moving into dorsiflexion, which is required for squatting, deadlifting, and lunging. But if foam rolling and stretching didn't help you the first 99 times you used it to improve your mobility, it's not going to give you results the hundredth time. Do this instead.

Hit the calves first during lower-body training days before your big compound strength lifts. Before you step into the squat rack, get a nasty pump using agonist/antagonist training of the lower legs.

By using calf raises (for direct gastroc work) in conjunction with lying banded dorsiflexions (for direct tibialis anterior work), you'll get a metabolic-stress effect in the lower legs. This combo will unlock the neurological tension that makes your ankles as flexible as concrete bricks.

The key: Train both of these movements out of an extended range of motion into the stretched position.

  • For calf raises, control your ankles deep into dorsiflexion, get a stretch at the bottom of each rep for a full second, then drive up explosively.
  • For the lying banded dorsiflexions, hold each peak of contraction for a full second at the top and control the movement back down with deliberate tension.

Do multiple sets between 15-20 reps for calf raises, and between 30-50 reps for dorsiflexions with minimal rest between the exercises. Give yourself around 30-45 seconds between each superset.