There is a passage in Pavel’s Relax into Stretch book saying that American’s don’t think you can be too flexible. Pavel then says that you really only need a small reserve of flexibility above the demands of your sport. Yet on the strength side, Pavel himself seems to think that you should try to be as strong as possible.
Why is one different from the other? Let’s take sport out of the equation. How strong/flexible do you need to be? What is the best quality of, let’s say, vitality, that you need to pursue?
To me that line gets drawn by the risk/reward ratio. The more flexibility you pursue, the more strength you pursue, the more you are dealing in extremes. Extremes come with a higher potential for injury.
In my teens and 20s, I ignored the advice of my elders—I’ll make my own damn mistakes! But now in my late 30s, not so much. So I think of Steve Maxwell saying he never met a dude who wished he lifted heavier weights when he was younger.
All the above is to say you can get huge benefits from weight training without feeling the compulsion that you have to use ridiculous weights. Indeed, bodyweight training can give excellent results and there you only use your body as resistance.
Going beyond Pavel and this discussion on strength and flexibility
I’m a huge fan of being strong. Look, is there nothing better than feeling capable when playing with your kids or just doing anything physical? Moving around gracefully, bounding up stairs, no aches, no pains—intelligent training is a fantastic mental boost.
Couple keys there: the words training and mental. Good training is focused and disciplined without distraction. You are calm and focused. The metadata of the mind is silenced and extraneous thoughts are banished. You perform the exercise and you focus on the result you want to attain.
Beyond this type of training in the weight room is more disciplined training in regards to the mind: concentration, meditation, and introspection. Even if you nail the physical component, you won’t really get it until you can focus your mind.
But even before there that there is something so simple: the mental diet. What am I taking in? Am I taking in news where it is a continual right vs left assault? Where it is all predicated on emotion and clicks and likes? I’m definitely not taking in a Facebook newsfeed—I gave that shit up years ago, but there are other aspects of the mental diet that can be improved.
Anyway, thought I’d end with this video of Earl Nightingale that I find inspirational and is better to listen to than “nattering nabobs of negativism” (that is, the news!). Enjoy the video – and think about your training needs. If you need ideas for workouts in the new year, check out the 5×5 Solution to Strength and Health.