Flexibility - Strong mobility

Flexibility

Can you be strong and stiff?

Yes.

Let’s reformulate.

Can you be strong, following StrongFirst method, and stiff?

No.

Proper strength training will always favor quality over quantity. Before chasing big numbers, we need to have good form, especially full range of motion. Squats are below parallel. Presses finishes with locked elbows. Pullups go from dead hang to neck-to-the-bar. Deadlifts finish with good hip alignement. Swings finish as a standing plank. Getups have the shoulders move strongly in all planes, and packed in their socket. The list could go on.

Provided that you have reach the minimum mobility requirement,  loaded exercises will develop all the flexibility you need to move fairly well and practice most recreational activities and sports.

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For general population, who train to reach a healthy level of strength, “stretching” can then be limited to a few exercises that help relax the body. It is a counter balance to the tension generated by strength training, not flexibility training per se. It is enough. Few people need to be able to do a split.

On the other hand, if you are a dancer, a gymnast, a handball goal keeper, a martial artist, an Olympic weightlifter (…again, the list could go on), you need to develop specific flexibility.

There are 3 ways to develop flexibility. A good way, a bad way, and the Flexible steel way.

A good way. Relaxing stretches. They develop static flexibility by teaching the muscles to relax, so that you can progressively increase range of motion. You just go into position, release tension, breathes, wait a bit, go further. Repeat. Over time, you will increase your range of motion. This is great at the end of a session. It also helps to relax. Progress are fast at first. The drawback is that it develops only static flexibility, not active and dynamic flexibility, nor strength. A too large difference between active and static flexibility may lead to injuries.

A bad way. Force brutally the muscle in a position. Ballistic moves, martial instructors jumping on student working on a split, etc. You can damage muscles pretty badly this way. It is ineffective and dangerous.

The Flexible steel way. Based on Pavel Tsatsouline’s teaching in Relax into stretch and Super Joints, Master SFG Jon Engum further developed the system into Flexible steel.

This system aims at developing flexibility and mobility without sacrificing strength. Actually, it uses strength to increase flexibility, and flexibility to increase strength. We apply the system for ourselves and our students.

Like we do in strength training, we start by specifying your flexibility and mobility goals before developing a tailor- made program.