I encourage people to do a lot more than strength work. A well-balanced practice results in a well-balanced body.
Optimally, in a week's time, you spend some time stretching… either light and flowy, intense and loaded, or both. You spend some time strength training... using big movements to keep pushing you forward whether that’s with weights, calisthenics, or smartest… a mixture of both. And you spend some time moving organically with no intention of “exercise”. This means playing sports, taking a martial arts class, trail running, going climbing, doing some animal movements, dancing etc.
Organic movement often has more benefits than just physical… This category allows you to go through more learning processes, which is essential for human beings. Figuring out how to score in a basketball game, learning a new sequence of dance moves, unlocking a hard climbing route… all of these require feedback and growth with a healthy amount of competition (and most likely frustration).
The beautiful part is these 3 elements of practice create an ecosystem that live together. They’re not separate, one supports the other. The stronger you become, the more resilient you are in your sport. The better you become at your activity, the easier you can identify where some added mobility may help your performance.
But maybe more importantly, you also learn how to access different qualities in your body… You can become stiff and produce force, you can relax and go deeper into range of motion. You can move from A to B smoothly and efficiently. And often we experience flow state when conscious thought about what you’re doing lessens.
Developing these qualities result in a well rounded body. We know that the person who bodybuilds for 10 years usually becomes stiff. We know that people who only do yoga usually can’t do a pull-up. It doesn’t take a scientist to see we should be giving both sides of the equation some of our attention to reach our full potential.
The results are usually in the feelings. When you become more of a “generalist” mover, you feel more confident in your diverse human capabilities. Because life doesn’t happen in a gym, life happens in the streets. When you're open and confident to explore, that’s the pinnacle of human existence.
It’s not super complicated either. You may read this and think:
"That sounds great, but I’m old and don’t have time to go spend hours at a climbing gym or take a karate class."
In reality, all it takes is a few sets of squats and pull-ups one day. A nice stretching routine another day. And playing catch in the park with your kid on the weekend.
It’s a mindset, rather than a list of “have to do’s”.
So here’s 5 things that may help you develop your practice:
1. I made Move Strong Now to be a one-stop shop for everything I talked about above. There’s a strength day, a mobility day, and a movement day. If my words resonate but you need some guidance on developing a well-rounded practice… I can not recommend this program more. This program has been the foundation for me unlocking a more free body over the years.
2. If you are like the typical male who has put most of their focus into lifting weights and trying to be big and strong, much like I did for years… then this Free Strength Side Mobility Routine will be life changing. We made this routine because most people want to “stretch more” but don’t have a plan to go about it. This takes all the guess work out, you just follow the stretches in the routine and make sure your forms right from the video. Light stretching can be helpful but often doesn’t do the trick for adults. This type of stretching is more intense, potent, and will get quicker results!
3. I view the pull-up as the king of upper body exercises. It’s equivalent to squats for the lower body. But I find a lot of people don’t do them simply because... they're hard. It’s easier to do the lat pull down machine at the gym right? Or no pulling exercises at all! Well, the only way to get better at something is to practice it more. Having a setup in your own home is a great way to ensure that you’ll put the work in. In this video, we share 5 setups to do pull-ups without a gym. And even if you don’t want to do pull-ups, hanging daily can be essential for healthy shoulders. We have found that making sure you have an easily accessible station at home can be the difference between gains and no gains.
4. For some of us, figuring out strength training and stretching isn’t too hard. Do a little research and follow a plan. But that “organic movement” concept can be more difficult. It’s easy to become a strength and conditioning junkie… go to any mainstream gym and that’s what most people are doing. Finding ways to move in non-linear paths is essential. Rotation is something most of us don’t do much of and as a result, our spines become locked up and stiff. One activity I’ve found to help this type of person is Rope Flow. Rope Flow will get you side-bending, twisting, pivoting, and using your shoulders through all types of range of motion. And the best part is it’s very low-impact and intensity. It’s a way to lightly nourish your body without needing too much recovery. It fits in very nicely if you’re already lifting and stretching but want more fluid movement in your weeks. You can use this link for a discount on my friend Tim’s ropes and courses at Way of the Rope. Discount code for 15% off: STRENGTHSIDE.
5. Another way to get yourself moving more organically are some basic primal movements. Crawling, rolling, and changing levels (standing to kneeling) are great ways to start. Here’s a classic Primal Movements video from a few years ago with some of these basics.
Everyone is at a different point in their journey. For some of us who have spent many years lifting… a good stretching plan can be life-changing. For some of us who have never been strong… getting your first pull-up can build so much confidence. For those of us who left our athleticism years ago… doing primal movements or rope flow can trigger that old familiar athletic feeling. It’s really a matter of where you’re at and what sounds interesting to you. As always we have loads of free content and some paid stuff for those who want to dive a bit deeper.
P.S. Almost forgot to mention Flexibility Flow. We designed this program for the person who enjoys follow-long routines. Just press play and be guided through 16 weeks of stretching and movement flows. Designed to make you more flexible and a more capable mover. Some feedback we’ve received so far:
“I’ve been making so many flexibility gains but it doesn’t feel like work. I’m just learning new movements and having fun. Thank you guys"