Strong and Bendy

The Legend of Strong and Bendy

Strong and bendy started out as a cool hashtag on Instagram when I started posting bridge press videos. It got worse when I started doing Steinborn Lifts.

The image in my head when I thought of it was Gumby lifting an Atlas stone. I’m not sure such a picture exists but if it does, I’ll give a free Garage Gym Life T-shirt to whoever emails it to me or tags me on Instagram @garage.gym.life. Now I wish I’d trademarked it because I see it more and more often. There’s even a business with the name (and I wish them well; more than that I’ll probably subscribe to it)!

Be that as it may, I get a lot of push back from other recreational lifters who say that stretching is somehow a bad thing. Or that you can’t run, lift weights and do mobility all at once or you’ll hurt your gainzz.  (Yeah, it’s always gainzz with at least two “z”s. Seriously. What is with these people and English?  Misspelling does not increase your bench. If it did, I’d start spelling cats with ten letters, all consonants!) Really?

So you’re telling me that there isn’t an entire fitness population that’s overly fond of ugly shirts and the acronym WOD. A fitness population that manages to lift, stretch and run while still gaining impressive amounts of muscle?  Okay, calm down. I get that you might hate them. Why people hate them, I don’t understand, but that’s a different blog post. Fair enough let’s not use that example.  Definitely don’t click this link.  In fact, let’s just forget I brought them up and move on.

How about another fairly large population of people whose salaries depend on their size, speed, conditioning and durability? They lift, run and stretch, sometimes they stretch BEFORE lifting! (gasp).  Who are these mythical creatures? NFL running backs, tight ends and linebackers.  Sad but true. They’re strong and bendy. Not yoga practicioner bendy maybe, but more bendy than most of us and definitely stronger than most of us too!

It’s Yin and Yang

Here’s the thing. I get that lifters don’t like to stretch and people who enjoy stretching and cardio usually hate lifting. It’s a yin and yang situation.

I've tried lifting without stretching. Not a fan of the results.

I’ve tried lifting without stretching. Not a fan of the results.

But I’m at the age when I need to pay attention to more than just the weight on the bar.  I’m finding that it’s also cool to be able to move well the day after working out.  I’m enjoying being able to go up and down stairs without sounding like first day at Lamaze class. (I’ve been to a few. Not sexy. Especially not on a dude with grey in his beard.)  And then there’s injuries.  I’ve injured my pec more than once because my chest and shoulders were tighter than fingers in a fist.  I don’t want to relive that. Ever again.

So I have personal reasons for wanting to train multiple things. But, I’m sure you’re still not satisfied that I should work on everything at once.

Still Not Satisfied?

Okay, how about we just use the guy who was probably one of the first people to advocate weight training for his field of human endeavor?  This guy was fast, flexible and had one of the sickest V tapers you’ve ever seen.  Not bad for a philosophy major.

First name Bruce. Last name: Lee.

Yeah, he ran, lifted weights and stretched plus did other kinds of conditioning every day.

I agree that trying to train multiple things at once, at the same intensity is probably a bad idea. But there’s nothing wrong with stretching during warm up, lifting weights, doing light cardio and stretching to finish the day.  Then you could stretch the next day, do calisthenics and go for a jog.  If you need more detail than that, read this.

You’ll be strong and bendy in no time. Ready to proclaim that you’re a physical culturist, and even better than that, you’ll be ready for most disasters life throws at you.

About the author

John Greaves III is a writer based in North Georgia with nearly two decades of experience in training at home. A former amateur kickboxing champion, John now competes recreationally in powerlifting. He takes a physical culture approach to training; believing that strength and health need not be mutually exclusive. In addition to his nonfiction work, John has written two fiction books, A Different Kind of Giant and A Little Lesson in Manners that are available on Amazon.com.

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