Posted on

Joe DeFranco’s “Limber 11” A Flexibility Routine

Flexibility is often an overlooked aspect. However mobility and flexibility are just as important lifting. Without the proper mobility lifts like the squat can be a major challenge to accomplish correctly and can lead to issues. That’s where the Limber 11 comes into play. Let’s be honest, who really likes to stretch and warm-up? If you’re like most people you’ll agree that stretching can be a pain, literally. It doesn’t have to be and if we reframe our mindset around the benefits of flexibility we can see greater improvements in our training. 

The key for improving movement patterns, correcting imbalances, keeping the body ready and providing support during activity is flexibility. Moving the body through its full range of motion is the simplest definition of flexibility. Being flexible lets you elongate or stretch all your soft tissues. The aim is to gain efficiency over the body and its ability to use the right muscles to create force, reduce force and stabilize. Joe DeFranco’s Limber 11 helps you do just that.

What Is Limber 11

The Limber 11 is a mobility drill that will help improve your flexibility in your lower body. Created by Joe DeFranco, a leading Strength and Conditioning coach based out of New Jersey. His concepts are backed by a lifetime of knowledge. Having worked with many of the top ranking NFL football players, Joe’s coaching and guidance is second to none. Joe’s original mobility routine was the Agile 8. After having much success with the Agile 8 and realizing people were doing it, Joe decided to enhance this routine and thus created the Limber 11.

At the core of this routine is a technique called myofascial release. Essentially what it is a technique that focuses on finding knots or tender spots within the muscle and “breaking” them up. The body has mechanoreceptors which are little sensors that alert the body. These mechanoreceptors are made up of muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs. The muscle spindles keep the muscle in check and don’t let it stretch too fast. When the muscle is stretched the spindle sends the signal through the feeling of tightness. The techniques in the Limber 11 help you increase efficiency and flexibility working past this signal safely is ideal.

What You’ll Need For Limber 11

You’ll need a few things before you can get started with Joe’s Limber 11 routine. The techniques require the use of a foam roller and lacrosse ball. Foam rollers are cylinders made of foam which acts as a pressure point stimulant helping you find the tender spots. Lacrosse balls are small balls that can also act as a pressure point stimulant just like a foam roller. I would like to point out that if you’re new to myofascial release you may find it to be very uncomfortable. It will get better in time, just stick with it and keep going. The benefits are immense.

You can get foam rollers and lacrosse balls at just about any sporting goods retailer online or brick and mortar. With foam rollers they come in several different densities as well as finishes. They vary from soft to hard in terms of actual density as well as smooth or bumped. It’s been said that the harder the density of the foam roller the better as it provides a much firmer and stable surface to work with. Foam rollers with knobs or bumps are great for stimulating the muscle tissue and really digging in deeper to the pressure points. If you’re just starting out it’s best to start with a firmer density smooth surfaced foam roller and go from there. Here are a few examples of some foam rollers and lacrosse balls to help you out.

How To Do Limber 11

The routine isn’t that lengthy and can be done any time. Ideally you would want to do it on a daily basis depending upon your level of inflexibility. You can reserve this routine for your warm-up or do it every day independent of training. The idea behind the Limber 11 is to efficiently move your joints through a full range of motion. If the body is moving properly in all ranges of motion it is therefore efficient and has benefited through the practice of flexibility. 

Joe’s Limber 11 consists of the following eleven techniques. Follow the instructions next to each of these techniques. The routine should take you about 10 minutes to complete.

Limber 11: 

  1. Foam Roll IT Band 10-15 passes
  2. Foam Roll Adductors 10-15 passes
  3. SMR Glutes (lax ball) 30sec – 2min
  4. Bent-knee Iron Cross x 5-10 each side
  5. Roll-overs into V-sits x 10
  6. Rocking Frog Stretch x 10
  7. Fire Hydrant Circles x 10 forward, 10 backward
  8. Mountain Climbers x 10 each leg
  9. Cossack Squats x 5-10 each side
  10. Seated Piriformis Stretch x 20-30sec each side
  11. Rear-foot-elevated Hip Flexor Stretch x 5-10 reps, 3sec hold, each side

The following video was created by Joe himself and thoroughly explains the routine in detail.

You can also download, print out and hang up in your gym the Limber 11 PDF as a quick reference guide.

Download Limber 11 PDF

Limber 11 Techniques Explained

The techniques in the Limber 11 routine may not be well known to all. While Joe does a great job at explaining them we’ve broken them out into this individual list as a reference. 

Foam Roll IT Band

The “IT Band” is the iliotibial band. It runs from the outer pelvis over the hip and down below the knee. The purpose of the IT band is to help stabilize the knee. Foam rolling the IT band puts pressure on the muscle. Pausing on painful areas or “knots” can break them up. This movement helps relieve the tightness in the IT band.

Foam Roll Adductors

The adductors are muscles that originate on the bones of the hip and attach to the femur. They are any of the muscles that move a part of the body toward the middle of the body. The adductor muscles are the adductor longus, adductor brevis, and adductor magnus. This technique helps relieve tightness in the groin area.

SMR Glutes

The gluteus maximus are a foundational muscle for a lot of other lower-body actions. It’s the main extensor muscle of the hip and largest of the three gluteal muscles. The gluteus maximus extends and laterally rotates the hip joint. This technique helps relieve tightness in the lower back.

Bent-knee Iron Cross

Higher up the kinetic chain is the lumbar and thoracic spine. The function of the thoracic spine is to hold the rib cage and protect the heart and lungs. While the function of the lumbar spine is to bear the weight of the body. This technique helps relieve tightness and pain in the lower back.

Roll-overs into V-sits

The posterior chain is a group of muscles that include the hamstrings, gluteus, erector spinae muscle group, trapezius, and posterior deltoids. It helps in preventing injury, improving posture, and generating strength and explosion for athletes. This technique targets the low back, glutes, hamstrings and groin helping to improve movement patterns.

Rocking Frog Stretch

The groin is the area between the abdomen and the thigh on either side of the pubic bone. There are 5 muscles in the groin. They are the hip, including the pectineus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, and the gracilis muscle. This technique helps reduce the chance of groin injury while increasing mobility in that area.

Fire Hydrant Circles

The four main muscle groups of the hip are gluteal, adductor, iliopsoas, and lateral rotators. Their purpose is to support the body in both static and dynamic postures. This technique is designed to help improve strength in that area and increase range of motion.

Mountain Climbers

A strong core and cardiovascular system helps to improve all areas of athleticism. Mountain climbers target every muscle in the body including the deltoids, biceps, triceps, chest, obliques, abdominals, quads, hamstrings and hip abductors. This movement is designed to help increase athletic performance and get you warmed up.

Cossack Squats

The cossack squat is a progression of a bodyweight squat. It’s a movement that shifts the weight onto one leg and focuses on stretching the long adductors inside the thigh. It’s designed to be a great drill for flexibility and mobility and dynamic warm-up.

Seated Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis is a small muscle located deep behind the gluteus maximus. It runs from the lower spine to the upper surface of the femur. It helps the hip rotate, turning the leg and foot outward. This technique helps to reduce tightness in that area and help prevent injury.

Rear-foot-elevated Hip Flexor Stretch

The hip flexors, glutes, and thighs are the main muscles of the lower body. The hip flexors often get overlooked but are an essential area to stretch and strengthen especially if you’re someone that is seated for long periods of time. This technique is designed to help to reverse the effects of being seated all the time while improving mobility into hip extension.

Conclusion

Keep with the Limber 11 and see how your lifts improve. And also be sure to visit Joe’s website and check out what he has going on. Improving your mobility and flexibility will really pay off in the long run. Increasing your body’s ability to efficiently move your joints through a full range of motion will drastically improve your ability to increase strength, build muscle and burn fat.