Mini Practice: Stealth opportunities for valuable strength building
Most of us make a clear distinction between the time when we are doing our workouts and all the other time in the day. Time in the gym (or wherever) is when you focus on physical training. At other times of the day, physical training is not even on your screen.
I want to introduce a bit of nuance to that idea.
As most readers of this newsletter are aware strength is a skill. Strength involves precise movement and maximum muscle mobilization. Building strength involves focused practice with the aim of enhancing your current skill set.
Thus, I suggest that throughout the day when you are not in the gym you can do certain things that can aid in the development of your strength skills.
Im not suggesting that you have a 24Kg kettlebell next to your desk so that you can briskly snap off a few sets of snatches during your workday. Rather Im suggesting that you use occasional moments during the day to practice some things that will contribute to your strength building.
You can do these things without changing into workout clothes and not breaking a sweat.
The things I suggest you practice are components of the big moves you make during your regular workout. Improving some of the components can help build your strength movements.
What do I have in mind?
Many of us who are past 40 begin to develop balance issues. These dont interfere with everyday life but can undercut our ability to put out maximum power when we are lifting weights.
A simple stealth practice is to stand on one foot for 30-60 seconds when taking a break to get coffee or get up from your chair for some reason. When you can do either foot solidly for 60 seconds, change the position of your other leg or move it around trying to disrupt your balance.
You can do this a few time each day and if you are consistent in your practice will find that your ability to mobilize full force during heavy lifting will have improved a bit.
Muscle mobilization and control
Most of us have ranges of motion in a given lift where we are relatively weak. We can work on this problem by assuming the position where you are weak and flexing your entire body for a few seconds. Look for areas where you are relaxed or not able to get tight. Then, concentrate on building your ability to control the tension you generate.
Do this occasionally during the day. Preferably when no one is watching. You will be surprised how regular practice of this simple flex may help you build strength in the weak segment of a lift.
Simple things no one will notice
Here are a few things you can do in plain sight that no one will notice:
- Perfect sitting posture
- Standing tall when you walk
- Deep breathing (five or so deep breaths)
- Flexing your abs
- Pull your abs back toward your spine and hold for 3-5 sec
- Flexing your entire torso when sitting
Things to do on the sly
If you work at home, no problem. In an office, maybe do these when no one is looking:
- One leg deadlift with small object
- Full body isometric pose
- Standing stretch to touch your toes
The basic idea is to use small moments to work on a few things that are giving you trouble and limiting your progress. Each of you can probably create your own list of things you want to work on.
The critical point to remember is that strength is a skill involving precise movements and maximum mobilization of your muscles. You dont have to be in a gym to do some focused practice that will help you improve.