May 04, 2020
We were made to have reflexive strength. Reflexive strength is to be the foundation of all the wonderful movements we are designed to make. It is automatic, non-cognitive strength, there when we need it. It protects us, it moves us, and it makes us superhuman powerful. It’s beyond thought, it’s predictive and also reactive. It’s faster than we can think yet it aids our minds by preparing our bodies with the intent of our thoughts.
Our reflexive strength is a superpower, like “Spidey Sense,” or the “Force.” It comes from deep within us, from within our design, it’s a hardwired gift. All we have to do to enjoy it is honor our design through moving, through following our movement blueprint. If we moved according to our design, we would all discover that not only are we wonderfully made, but we are wonderfully strong. We would all walk around knowing we were strong. Knowing you are strong takes your strength to a whole new level.
Why am I telling you this? Because many of us are tethered to certain thoughts in the exercise world.
We have been taught how to brace, how to position, how to splint, or how to cognitively lift. And in some cases, like the sport of powerlifting, these can be wonderful skills. In powerlifting and weightlifting, strength is a skill. Unfortunately, sometimes this skill gets applied to movement in general. “Shouldn’t I keep my head in line with my spine when I crawl?”, “Shouldn’t I brace my abs when I crawl on my hands and knees?”, “Shouldn’t I suck my belly or flatten my back in when I do dead bugs?”
And often more unfortunately, the skill of cognitive strength is often applied on a body that may be lacking reflexive strength, almost making the cognitive skill of strength a necessity outside of the weight room.
What I mean is, having reflexive strength gives your body a solid foundation, it enables you to build “your house on a rock.” Lacking reflexive strength but learning cognitive strength is like building “your house on shifting sand.” If you have to brace, tension and splint your way through a workout, using all that mental energy, what happens when you leave the gym and you need to pick up your child, your new amazon package, or simply walk up your own stairs? What happens if you don’t think your way through those movements and lifts? Nothing happens if you have your reflexive strength. Injury happens if you don’t.
Weight lifting is a sport and a skill. But when you leave the gym, you don’t need to live in your skill or your sport. You need to return to your reflexive foundation, to your design. But again, the skill of weightlifting may actually set you up for injury outside the weight room if you lack your reflexive strength. And honestly, the “skill of weightlifting” would be more of an expression of strength than a skill for the person with a solid foundation of reflexive strength. Your body knows how to move and it knows how to move heavy things - without thought, without cognitive effort.
We have no more business trying to contract our abs when we walk or run than we do trying to make our heart beat with a heavier, harder contraction. The heart knows how to beat and appropriately respond to a situation. The body also knows how to appropriately respond to a situation - without our thoughts getting in the way or without our lack of thought preventing us from acting safely.
The point of this is that we were made to move naturally without thought. We are amazingly strong and capable of superhuman feats, regularly. Every day should be an amazing expression of our strength, our non-cognitive, reliable, reflexive strength.
In the weight room, strength may be a skill. But when we leave the weight room and we are out in the world, strength is a gift. And it’s ours to use and express freely, without thought.