Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Value of Play

One of the books that influenced me most as a strength athlete was The Development of Physical Power by Arthur Saxon (arguably the strongest man to have walked the planet).
The great Arthur Saxon performing
a 'two hands anyhow' lift
In this book he outlines some of his training, nutrition and exercise methods (all from the early 1900's I must add) and one thing that struck me was how much of the training that he and his brothers (also famous strongmen) did was basically play.
They would go into their private gymnasium and 'play' with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and Indian clubs, along with other heavy objects, for hours on end, fueled all the while by what could be one of the first sports drinks - heavy cream, stout and sugar!

I have seen the value of this approach to my training, and whilst a more structured approach is beneficial for a large part of our training, one cannot underestimate the importance of simply walking into your gym, backyard or garage with no preconceptions and to simply try out new exercises and feats of strength, and do it all with joy and non-judgmental compassion for self.

For example; I don't usually train on a Sunday, but yesterday I felt like I wanted to PLAY.
So I grabbed a 24kg kettlebell and went outside in the sun and had a great old time. I had no preconception of exercise, reps or sets. In fact that is the beauty of occasionally training on an 'off' day - you need not worry about pushing yourself to your prescribed volume and intensity and can simply do it for the love of being active, healthy and strong.

I worked through a variety of fun exercises, from bell up snatches to bell up clean and presses, into a variety of cleans, snatches, single bell clean/press/tri extensions, single bell curl and press (high reps), swings with a pause at the top (brutal!) and full overhead swings. I finished it all off with some of my favourite shoulder/core strength/mobility drills: KB orbits from the waist, 1/2 orbits (behind head) and full orbits.

"Life should be a playfulness not a purpose..."
~ Osho