Lesson 6: Be Strong and Move Well

Some of you may not know this, but back in high school, I weighed 293 pounds. I currently fluctuate between 205 and 215. As a big kid, all I wanted to do was lift heavy things, whether it was deadlifting, squatting or benching, I was easily one of the strongest kids in my school at these lifts. However, there was 1 heavy thing that I couldn’t lift.

And that heavy thing was……….ME! One day I strolled over to the chin-up bar and I went for it. I jumped up, pulled as hard as I could and I went nowhere.

There I stood, one of the strongest kids in the school - yet I couldn’t even do a chin-up. Sure, I loaded the bar with multiple 45s on all my lifts, I pressed the heaviest dumbbells, I could rack all the cable machines… but none of this mattered because I could not complete ONE rep of one of the simplest (yet clearly most challenging) body weight exercises.

Of course, I was relentless in pursuit of this goal when I realized I couldn’t do ONE. I dropped some weight, practiced the move and I eventually got my first one, which was a life-changing moment for me.

Fast forward to the present.

Yes, these days, if I was dangling from a cliff I could pull myself up to safety.

However, not too long ago I was asked to get up and down off the ground by keeping my right hand on my left knee. It was a lot harder than it sounds, but I was able to do it. I was then asked to get up and down off the ground with NO HANDS. And I couldn’t.

I looked around and although some others couldn’t either, there was a few who were doing it with ease. I WAS SUPER JEALOUS! 

On the outside, I looked much bigger and much stronger than most of these people. Shouldn’t that mean I could do everything they could and more?

I was as surprised as that day I first tried to pull myself to the bar and didn’t move an inch.

Was I missing something?

But of course, strength had little to nothing to do with this movement - the mobility required to perform this feat was high, and to be honest, my mobility needs a lot of work.

This was another life check for me. So what if I can swing heavy bells, do muscle-ups and press the 48 kg bell overhead - when I’m freaking struggling to get up and down off the ground!?!

I’ve come a long way in my physical abilities, but this was a reminder that even my relative strength is still not a thorough representation of my overall “fitness”, as in fitness to function as fully as possible in daily life.

As I have said before, whether you are a professional athlete, a middle-aged mom or an 80-year-old man, the Number 1 goal of your training should be creating longevity.

Training should improve your quality of life now, tomorrow and especially years from now!

What is the one thing you have now, will still have tomorrow and yet still have years from now? Your body.

Your body must be relatively strong to function at its best, yes,  but also mobile enough to walk, run, jump, get up and down off the ground, squat, lunge, plank, twist, push, pull and put things overhead.

These actions are necessities of daily life. If you are able to do all of these with energy and without pain, I can assure you your life will be much more enjoyable.

So all in all, please remember that as impressive as great feats of strength are, what’s even more impressive is the ability to be strong and move well! 

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