Workout of the Day

Be Anti-Fragile

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There’s a pandemic-scale mindset that humans are physically fragile beings -- breakable, incapable, and vulnerable. While I’m certainly not advocating treating yourself like your bones are made of adamantium, I’d like to take this idea of human fragility to task.

I’ll start with this: you’re probably not as fragile as you think.
Now, if you’re the type who constantly pushes physical limits, who feels comfortable paddling up to a 30 foot wave, diving from cliffs, or if you've broken ⅔ of the bones in your body over your lifetime, this message isn’t really directed at you. But for all the rest: you owe it to yourself to stop treating your body like delicate antique china and start respecting the strong, capable, and adaptable body you have.

The problem with this fragility mindset isn’t that it leads us to be mindful to the safety and longevity of our body -- that, I would argue is a very good thing. The problem is how we apply this mindfulness to safety and longevity. I’ve lost count of the number of times that someone has insisted that they “can’t squat” or “can’t lift any weights” or “can’t run” because one time 28 years ago they injured this or that, or their friend’s sister’s doctor said something about lifting heavy things being bad for you, or because they have “bad knees.” I’ve also lost count of the number of times that this same person is squatting, lifting weights, or running (safely, symptom-free, and pain-free) in a matter of hours or days. It has nothing to do with a magic touch or super-secret functional this and that, and everything to do with the fact that humans are moving beings, and all it takes is properly applied stimulus and instruction to get our bodies to move in ways that we may have thought weren’t possible.

This greatest hazard of this fragility mindset is that it is self-perpetuating. All it takes is one bad experience or loosely-worded medical suggestion/diagnosis, and we condemn ourselves to be encased behind thick glass and wrapped in a protective bubble.
"I hurt my shoulder playing high school football in 1964, therefore I can’t do anything with my shoulder for the rest of my life because it’s fragile."
"I’m a woman and everyone tells me women are delicate, therefore heavy things will break me."


In a classic case of self-fulfilling prophecy, we convince ourselves that we are fragile to the point that we do begin to become fragile. The difference between you and a glass vase is that while a glass vase will always be as sturdy or as breakable as it currently is, you will adapt and become stronger with proper stress and stimulus, and will adapt and become weaker without any stress or stimulus. With this in mind, it’s pretty clear that the greatest way to make yourself fragile is to treat yourself as if you are fragile. Treat yourself like a capable and adaptable creature that’s built for movement, apply stimulus that does not exceed capacity (i.e. don’t injure yourself), and you have countless opportunities to become more and more not fragile.

(Of course, this all comes with the caveat that there are times when you really should treat yourself with some extra care and concern -- just be smart about it.)

The lesson here is one of potential. The history of humankind shows that we are tough creatures capable of accomplishing quite a bit, and it’s an offense to our potential to box this all up and set it aside because we’re afraid we’ll fall to pieces if we do something that’s too hard. Stop allowing your underestimation of your potential to lock you into a self-fulfilling cycle of fragility, put in some work, and be un-fragile. Your body’s pretty rad -- give it some credit!

- Preston Sprimont


12/22/16

  • Max rep stone to shoulder in :60 (145/95)

  • “Strongman Walkabout”

  • 16 min EMOM

    • Even: 150’ farmer’s carry (AHAP)

    • Odd: 150’ keg carry (AHAP)