Is being "Swole and Flexy" a good idea?
I have been waiting to write this blog for awhile now. Sometimes, I need to wait until I have all my thought organized in my head before I get them down on paper. I think I've reached that point with this topic so here it goes!
There are almost 100k posts under the Swole and Flexy hashtag. I first noticed this trend with RomWod. It seemed especially big with female weightlifters and powerlifters as I noticed few men posting about being Swole and Flexy. The question is "Should powerlifters be Swole and Flexy?"
My answer is no. In the wise words of Stu McGill "looseness is the enemy of power". The entire goal of powerlifting is to lift the most weight possible. Training with this goal in mind consists of lots of heavy reps over a long period of time. Guess what happens when you do that? Your body adapts to that training. How does it adapt? By becoming stiffer? Why does the body become stiffer? Because it creates more tension and also a sense of safety for the joints (the brain won't let you lift more if the joints don't feel safe). Do you need some semblance of mobility? Most definitely. You need enough mobility to reach depth in the squat, get the bar to your chest in the bench and reach the bar in the deadlift. Generally, more mobility is not going to add more weight to your total.
Now you may be saying "but, Kelley, I see so and so doing RomWod or saying I need to stretch and do my mobility drills daily". Firstly, it depends who is saying this. Weightlifters need more mobility than powerlifters as their sports depends it. Secondly, is that person able to use that extra range of motion they have gained from their mobility drills? It's all fine and dandy if you have control of your joints in this extra range of motion (think gymnasts) but if all you are doing is temporarily increasing your range of motion with passive stretching and not locking it in by using it (i.e. exercise) then it is no good and you will lose that extra range. Lastly, you need to determine why you think you need this extra range. Are your lifts being affected? Do you think extra stretching and mobility are a cure all for everything (I'll blog about this soon)? Have you considered that you may need more tension in that joint so it feels safe and your brain will grant you the extra range of motion you need? No? Well, then it might be time to see a professional you can evaluate such things.
In summary, being Swole and Flexy as a powerlifter is not necessary unless you can achieve legal lifts or reach the bar. In fact, being too flexy can actually cause injury for powerlifters as there are adaptations in the spine that occur when getting flexy that are in direct opposition of what you want when lifting heavy loads. How well does something flexy bear heavy loads? I, for certain, do not want a heavy bar on a flexy spine and neither should you.