A weightlifting coach in Cape Town


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Don't waste your time with mobility exercises

I was asked by a fellow coach the other day if I do any mobility work before training. I think my reply would be of benefit to some lifters, so here it is along with some elaboration.

Mobility work revolves around two perceived benefits: pain/injury prevention and preparing the range of motion for load (either to increase it or just work through the range about to be used). So really, we’re looking to avoid future pain and improve imminent performance. Here’s what I say to that: phooey.

If you want to warm up the range of motion you’re about to use, do the movement. Taking squatting as an example, this would mean empty bar squatting. For snatching, I use snatch pulls, overhead squats, drop snatches (because calling snatch balance drop snatch really annoys Giles) and empty bar snatches. If you can’t get your full ROM with an empty bar, something’s wrong, and you need to seek and destroy that problem. Except you should have done it before you got to the gym, which brings me to the other perceived benefit: injury prevention.

So you walk into a gym, and you know full well you can’t hit your positions (and will hurt yourself) if you don’t perform a bunch of band and soft tissue work, you messed up. How bad did you mess up? If you’re at this point, you’re already on the brink of injury. There’s nothing wrong with training injured - you work around the problems and do what you can. But if you have to rely on all this mobility crap just to get through a normal training session, you have issues that you’re ignoring. Worse still, you think your mobility work is helping these issues. If that’s the case, why do you have to do them every single workout? And why do you still get injured anyway?

It’s because mobility exercises are short term triage. It’s like a tourniquet on a gaping artery wound - it’ll do but it’s not going to solve the problem! The mobility work addresses the symptoms, but as soon as you finish training your body goes right back to how it was. It’s possible your form is a contributing factor, but most likely you walked in a wreck from computer work, driving, sitting too much, an old injury, or a combination of stress factors that chewed your movement up.

The Ticking Clock- And the TV

On Words & threads

Every night, my parents end the day with television- the program that they watch is negligible. Sometimes I wonder why. It’s a strange phenomenon, they are both so busy all day and stressed; sometimes I need something from them and don’t want to ask because I know they have so much to do. And somehow, I don’t feel right interrupting their TV sessions either- they often press pause to hear me talk and I feel sort of shameful blabbering off when a dramatic scene of betrayal is in limbo onscreen. Somehow, this daily activity seems a blocked off part of their day.

It’s sweet that as a married couple they spend time together every night after all of these years. It’s just hard for me to comprehend, and I imagine that this scene is not abnormal in many adults’ lives across this country. As a high school student, I don’t often feel the slack in my schedule to pull a few hours of mindless lounging, even on weekend. I acknowledge that this is not necessarily normal, that I over-schedule myself and take harder classes than, say, the average student, but still.

Today, I felt brain dead, sick with a sinus infection that seems to have worked its way into my mind, dulling my work ethic and thought processes (henceforth maybe don’t judge my writing). I got home from the doctor and decided to watch the only TV program I watch, Girls on HBO. I enjoyed it, and in 30 minutes it was done but I was not. I switch to Netflix and turn on a movie I had fallen asleep in the middle of recently, Manhattan. I try to get to the part I left off at, its taking too long to load, I pick up my iPhone, scroll through some useless Instagram pictures, look back at the TV, still frozen. All of a sudden, it occurred to me that I was accomplishing absolutely nothing. And accomplishments aren’t everything, but I thought about it a little bit more and realized I wasn’t even doing anything. I wasn’t necessarily dying to watch the rest of Manhattan, it was just a filler.

I know television and movies can have real cultural value, as I think both that film and that show have. Yet, I find that as an activity, so much of the time it is done as a willful distraction. It’s sad because I can look at my parents and decide they’re wasting their time, but what I often forget is the time I “don’t have” at the end of the day is subsequently eaten up all day with a series of fillers interrupting my productivity.

This is the Internet age, I’m not deleting Twitter from my iPhone, and these distractions will not cease to exist. I want to challenge myself to think deeper and use my time in more long-term satisfying ways- I don’t even want to say productive because that just loops me back into the trap of the busy busy schedule I’m already on. I think something is worthwhile if its challenging intellectually, inspiring or allowing me to flex my creative muscle. I could use some more time outside as well. I have been gradually been evolving my habits, trading out my twitter feed for reading a few articles on Harper’s online, but I have my relapses.

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