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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Strength is great...but so is flexibility, right?

Image from Flickr, by mikebaird
I've talked a lot about strength training with kettlebells and how they're also great for cardiovascular health.  However, at this point I find them lacking in one area of overall fitness, and that's flexibility.

This isn't a knock on kettlebells either.  In truth, few strength training programs do a good job of working on flexibility.  It's really a case of them being opposites in a lot of ways.

That's why, starting today, I'll be implementing Tai Chi as part of my overall fitness plan.

Why Tai Chi and not yoga?

Well, first, I'm drawn to Tai Chi's roots as a martial art.  I'm a big mixed martial arts fan, but I've always been fascinated with martial arts in general.  That's a big part of why I'm interested in Tai Chi.

Also, yoga does a lot of work on the floor, and I'm not interested in spending a bunch of time on the floor right now.  I've got some mats that might work for that, but Tai Chi is mostly standing.  This appeals to me for a lot of reasons, including the fact that if my mats don't work for yoga, I don't need to go and get something along those lines.

These are my personal reasons, but none of this is to knock yoga on that front.  In fact, yoga might actually be better for flexibility.

Regardless, flexibility is very important and often under emphasized by professional trainers.  Folks, go to any gym that plays a home to hardcore lifters.  You'll probably find that one guy who has big old arms that he can't fully extent.  Oh, he's a big guy, but he's limited his range of motion which has got to have an impact on his day to day life.  Sorry, but there's no way I want to go down that path.

In the last week, I've found it more difficult to fully extend my arms.  I believe this was mostly temporary, but it was also a wake-up call.  While I know that I've got a long, long time before I'm really at risk for being one of those guys, now is a much better time to prevent that than later.

I'm interested in what you all do for flexibility training and why you picked that.  Seriously, what and why?

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