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Dr. Craig Liebenson was kind enough to lend us an hour of his time to discuss movement, strength, and the concept of becoming Anti-Fragile for an episode of Strength Chat. We dove into all areas of human performance but his priority list for becoming anti-fragile is what stood out the most to me. We often hear about mental toughness or cringe worthy statements such as “pain is weakness leaving the body”. But, it’s not so often we get to pick the brain of a professional as respected as Dr. Liebenson. Aside from his work as the Director of L.A Sport and Spine (a pain management, rehabilitation, and performance enhancement center) Dr. Liebenson is an active consultant for professional sports organizations such as the MLB and NFL.
I’ll set the stage for Dr. Liebenson’s formula for anti-fragility with a quote below.
“Isn’t the pursuit of perfection really the opposite of progress? Shouldn’t we look for catalysts? Shouldn’t we look for impactful interventions that will catalyze adaptation? As opposed to try and make something absolutely perfect. “– Dr. Craig Liebenson.
After you read through the good Doc’s priority list I’ll give you my thoughts on what it takes in order to become ant-fragile.
The path to Anti-Fragility.
Question – “The being of flow and anti-fragility is the end game. That’s where we want to be with our patients and athletes. We want people moving with extreme confidence and hopefully some level of proficiency. If that’s the absolute end goal, can we simplify the stages that come before that? What are they?”
Answer – “To me, there are four steps.”
There should be no pain, this isn’t no pain no gain.
Motor control first, quality over quantity.
Load is the best corrective. We need to get to load sooner. We can’t baby people.
Cast your net wide and look at the entire kinetic chain. Find the most impactful intervention.
If you’ve followed Kabuki Strength for any amount of time you’ll know the concept of Anti-Fragile is near and dear to our hearts. What people don’t understand is that becoming Anti-Fragile has nothing to do with mental toughness. Sure, you can’t be a mental midget. But you can’t afford to harbor self-destructive ideas of what mental toughness is. Mental toughness is easy when your entire connection to it is resistance. Anti-Fragile is the exact opposite of popular mental toughness rhetoric. Anti-Fragile is not resistance, its absorption. Its evolving when new challenges are placed in front of you. Its leaning into obstacles, not holding them at a distance from your inner self. When we look at movement, the idea Anti-Fragile is about allowing your mind to turn off and flow with extreme confidence. You no longer have to “hold back”. Lean into new arenas and let your body and mind do what it was made for. If you are not Anti-Fragile, what are you?
The writing of this article was prompted by all the social media posts I’ve seen talking about men’s mental health. Apparently November is men’s mental health month. That is unless you’re struggling with your own mental health issues. Then, every month, week, and day may very well be an ongoing struggle. Although throughout this article I’ll be referencing comparative data between men and women and differing demographics, the point is not to prop up men's suffering above women or anyone else for that matter. It’s simply there to elucidate the current state of men’s mental health, which is the central focus of this article. “Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution” (1). This mentality exists in contrast to the current lack of awareness pertaining to the drivers of psychological ill-health. Social media and articles routinely discuss what to do if you’re depressed, anxious, suicidal, etc. But seldom does anyone discuss the complexity of the subject. Unfortunately, without truly understanding the issues that lead to ill-health it’s unlikely to come up with an effective solution and subsequent prevention strategies. Therefore the aim of this article is as follows:
Optimizing exercise range of motion to maximize muscle growth is a popular topic to discuss. As new research emerges, it often leaves you with more questions about the fundamental mechanisms and application of hypertrophy training. Mechanical tension is known as a primary driver of hypertrophy. Therefore it stands to reason that training a muscle through larger ranges of motion will create more tension, resulting in a greater hypertrophic stimulus. Although this makes sense at face value, it’s ultimately an unsatisfactory answer. At deeper levels of analysis, mechanical tension alone (or at least our current model) can not explain some of the observed outcomes we see both in the literature and anecdotally. The aim of this article is to provide a brief review of the topic, provide context to the ROM discussion, and offer practical recommendations to implement into your own training.