Mobility in lieu of strength training

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Brilliant Friends!

We’re back in Jakarta for a few days. Bali was an incredible experience again, five years after the last time I was there. Now it’s time to rest. Some quick thoughts on maintaining strength during travel.

Basically, I don’t have the luxury of strength training in a gym as I travel. Instead I have the luxury of travel. No desk to sit at, no car to commute in, and lots and lots of walking and moving. Still, mobility exercises are key to staying limber and keeping my tissues “flushed” with fluid. With a single exercise band and some creativity, I maintain a full range of movement practices on the road.

The points of interest for me are the hips and shoulders. These joints get tight the quickest and they’re the biggest foci of movement. This was true at home as much as during travel. Sitting all day at work and home and commute caused major stickiness there, and it was super important to mobilize with that sedentary lifestyle. However, regular walking was not a part of everyday life for me until about three months ago. So at the end of a long day of moving about on my feet, my joints and muscles start to tighten up. They want to return to their comfortable, remembered range of motion and elasticity. I’m training them to grow beyond that.

The exercise that really hits the sweet spot for me is the hip mobility stretch. By getting down in the squat position on one leg, and keeping the other leg back, I can isolate the tight points within each hip joint. Here’s an example from Las Vegas:

A variation is the table top hip stretch. It’s like the hip mobility exercise but focuses more on the outermost edges of hip range of motion. One leg is placed up on the table like a hunk of mutton, crossed in front. The other leg holds me up, foot forward and close to vertical. The stretch is initiated by pushing back with the butt. I move my torso from one side to the other, keeping it straight, to lean into different areas of tightness.

To get the shoulders freshened up, I utilize the arm dislocation exercise. It’s a silly name that doesn’t represent the actual movement well. A stick, pole, or exercise band can be used for this. Simply hold the pole with a wide double overhand grip, or palms facing down, and bring the bar overhead and backward. Don’t let go. If it’s too hard, widen the grip. You will be bringing the pole all the way back and down to your butt behind you without letting go of your grip. Then, reverse.

On the road, I have my band. It’s slightly trickier than a sturdy pole, because it stretches at the point of greatest tension. This is when my arms are in the upper back position. It can actually make it easier to do the movement, since there’s some give, but I have to make sure that my grip is consistent and I keep my wrists rigid. Otherwise, I won’t get the proper shoulder rotation. If I do it properly, I can feel a great stretch in my pecs, front shoulders, and biceps.

The big question in all this for me is, how strong am I after such a long hiatus from weightlifting?

Well, I’ve yet to test myself in the lab we call “the gym”. When I do I’ll be sure to report the results. I feel reasonably strong. I don’t know if I can shoulder 300 lbs. and squat it at the drop of a hat, but I’m pretty sure I can warm up to it within a few days.

Mobility exercises and body weight training every two or three days is keeping me fairly limber and capable. Eating as much good fat as I can afford and find helps too. This was quite manageable in Bali, where pigs are raised by farmers and are all domestic. The strict attention to preserving the breed and the largely vegetable feed produces an unparalleled pork. Whatever the various reasons that Bali is called a paradise, the luscious pork is a top marker for me.

I haven’t been strict with avoiding wheat and other sweets in the last couple of weeks. Temptation is great, and living out of inns and hotels that provide breakfast greatly distracted me. I could have had higher energy levels with a better diet, but I’ve maintained body fat and muscle composition. Keeping up the fat intake has helped.

Live powerfully,

Steve

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

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