Showing up regularly is the key to success. Maintaining your body to withstand the years of training is the key to longevity.
BJ Penn once described Yoga as the other half of training. Consider the source. He was one of the most athletic competitors to have won championships in multiple weight classes and didn’t miss a competition because of injury. He is widely regarded as one of the best to have ever competed.
We all recognize how important flexibility is, but few of us put in the effort to improve on this. However, mobile is even more essential than flexibility. Plenty of athletes are as flexible as wood with modest ranges of motion, but their ability to move in space keeps them training and competing at an elite level.
What’s the difference?
Flexibility refers to the range of motion a body has. Mobility is what strength there is at the end of a range of motion.
Our weakest points live at the limits of our flexibility. When we improve both our flexibility and strength at the end ranges of our flexibility, our athletic performance improves. We also tend to get injured less.
Consider this free insurance. A lot of lower back injuries can be resolved if not avoided all together by improved hamstring flexibility. Shoulders can be improved through dedicated practice.
There are a million ways and a million different programs to keep you healthy on the mat. Mobility needs to be part of yours.
Simple things can be done throughout your day that don’t add another workout to your already packed schedule. Brushing your teeth in a deep yogi squat and stretching while watching T.V. cost nothing, but they pay big dividends. Some simple movements after training before we pour ourselves into the shape of a car seat or couch matter. They matter less at certain ages and a whole lot more at others. Five minutes of targeted stretching after training does heaps. The Knees Over Toes Guy has a lot of simple, weightless exercises that can be done anywhere and will keep your knees happy.
One of the best, and most effective, ways to improve mobility is weighted mobility. This is the secret of gymnasts and elite athletics, but it doesn’t have to be crazy.
Using a little weight to help us deepen into stretches and postures, because we are weakest at the end ranges of our flexibility, gives us a little nudge to get deeper into these positions. The added weight, even a modest three pounds, improves our strength at these ranges. This means we have a little more opportunity to defend or tap before injury when we’re caught.
There is no better tool for this than the mighty kettlebell. The bowling ball with a handle is more or less an entire gym on a handle that can be used everywhere.
By including simple movements like a kettlebell swing, front squat and Turkish getup to your life will improve your wellbeing as well as your training. All of these things keep us on the mat more and performing better.
Lots of people quit before it gets good, and they quit because their bodies quit first. If we set our bodies up for success, we have a greater likelihood of staying on the mat longer, and we all know that experience and time on the mat correlates to success.