Performance Potential Is Flexibility Dependent [1]

Dmitry Klokov – 2008 Beijing Olympic silver medalist and repeated medalist at World Championship events in the 105kg class – warming up in the training hall of the Almaty 2014 World Championships.


Gif is from All Things Gym Almaty 2014 Worlds warm up video

When thinking of flexibility, weightlifters aren’t exactly the athletes that pop into one’s mind. Gymnasts, ballerinas, and dancers are more likely who we imagine when someone brings up stretching, fluidity, gracefulness. We can imagine them stretching into what appears as endless range of motion, spending what feels like an eternity in preparation for bar, mat, or floor work. For these artists and athletes a devotion to flexibility is normal, but how would athletes and coaches from other sports react if an entire workout was to be replaced only with stretching, and flexibility exercises?


Gifs are of Alexandra Soldatova

At first, gracefulness and weightlifting don’t seem to fit in the same sentence, yet at second glance, watching Dmitry Klokov warm up isn’t all that different from that of a gymnast. In fact by watching Dmitry the association between flexibility, strength and lifting potential becomes clearer. His stretches are purposeful, relevant to his lifting, and therefore without flexibility peak performance will elude him (and for that matter any other athlete). If this is the case, then why aren’t all athletes spending significant amounts of time developing flexibility (besides those already mentioned)?Dmitry_Klokov_w_up02

From The Athletes Cloud (TAC) book (page 11):

P output = P generated – P friction

(Where P = Physical)

Friction within the body consumes the power generated by the body. The greater the number of barriers to movement (e.g. stiff joints, muscles…including stiff mindsets), the greater will be the amount of strength and endurance that must be generated to overcome the inflexibility before any output is available for performance. What an incredible waste of effort – physical, mental and emotional – simply to overcome one’s own restrictions. Plus, the risks and costs (time lost not training) of acute injury or persistent chronic injuries haven’t even been discussed. How many seasons or critical competitions do athletes miss due to injury?

Why be inflexible if it risks injury and reduces performance potential? Why train endless hours only to have your own inflexibility consume your effort? If the point of training is to achieve greater power, speed, strength or endurance then why not eliminate obstacles. Why would an engineer focus on building a bigger and bigger engine (which comes with added weight, added fuel consumption as well as other issues) when simply taking the parking brake off will release huge amounts of power, speed, performance? Yet how many coaches and athletes return to the pool, the track, the rink daily to pound their body into submission, desperate to find another ounce of power?

What’s the goal? To train hard or smart? To achieve a peak performance or blow up in the process?

To achieve peak performance, athletes cannot waste time, energy, or effort building strength merely to overcome their own inflexibility. Training should focus on turning weaknesses into strengths. This not only diversifies training – thus minimizing risks of injury, burn out, and max out – it provides the athlete with an entirely new set of skills, strategies, and resources with which to leverage their output to even greater levels of performance.

If Dmitry Klokov thinks flexibility is relevant to his performance, then why would any athlete, performing artist, or coach think otherwise.