I am writing this blog to explain the mentality required to me more flexible. I am framing this method of thinking in terms understandable to a guy who is accustomed to a more common form of fitness for men, such as weight lifting, sports, or running, where the goal is endurance, strength, or agility, and flexibility is considered secondary to these three aspects of physical fitness.
Sometime during the fitness family vacation to Man Town, strength and endurance forget their second child, flexibility, on the side of the road. They assumed that he was sleeping in the third row. (Meanwhile, agility arrived safely to Man Town while sleeping in the second row.) The point is that flexibility has become seen as something that isn’t considered “manly”. Most people who have taken a class on physical fitness and most halfway decent physical trainers should know that flexibility is extremely important, but there are a huge number of fitness enthusiasts who don’t know this fact. Then one day they read an article on buzz feed or in Men’s Journal that tells them flexibility is important, and they decide to start stretching for ten minutes after their weight training. They think that a 10-minute stretch is enough to help them get the results they want from increased flexibility. I’m going to go ahead and compare this to training for a marathon by running up and down the stairs once a day. By the way, this staircase is only one flight of stairs. It also has only one stair on it. Also, it’s that awkward step between between the kitchen and the family room that you always trip over when you’re moving your way from the couch to the refrigerator.
I hope you enjoyed that simile. The point is that in order to become flexible you need to put in the same amount of effort that you would as if you were doing weights or working on sprints into improving your flexibility. You need to spend at least 20 minutes (preferably 45-60 minutes) working on reaching your limits (and maybe even going further than that) in flexibility. Another simile: you wouldn’t go to the gym with a plan to burn your tris (triceps) and pecs (pectorals) with three sets of 10 push-ups. Similarly, you need to go into your flexibility workout with the idea that you will use progressively more difficult stretches (or poses, in the case of yoga) in order to reach and maybe even surpass your limits in flexibility. One more simile: If you consider that when you think about the goal of weight training as the ability to lift the most weight for as many repetitions as possible, along a similar vein you must think of flexibility as the ability to reach and sustain your best level of flexibility. You need to continue to push your limits in order to see results. (Side note here: When I say push your limits, I really mean tease the bejeebees out of your limits. You shouldn’t disregard your limits to the point of straining or even tearing a muscle.)
Yoga (and of course Man Flow Yoga, specifically) is great because it does this for you. It sets aside an extended period of time in which your goal is to move through poses of progressively increasing difficulty in order for you to become warm to the point that you can safely go for your maximum flexibility (and beyond). Simply stretching at the end of a workout for 10 minutes doesn’t cut it. You need to focus on flexibility just as much as strength and endurance in order to reach your ultimate goal of an increased level of physical fitness. Do your part to bring flexibility back on the fitness minivan, and don’t Joe Dirt him on the side of the road. (Joe Dirt is a movie, you may have to be familiar with it to get the reference.)