Redefining Strength: Mobility + Balance

In the fitness industry, all too often, we are the exception and not the rule.  We are not a single way to train, but rather a very intentional system of methods built to compliment an athletic lifestyle.  When we come across someone else who shares in our beliefs, and is out there proving our practices in their own niche, it’s powerful reinforcement that there can literally be more power in the exception(al) than in numbers.

About a month ago I woke up to an email from my dad sharing a NY Times article about Stanford’s Football program and how they strength train.  This was important for two reasons: 1.) my dad is a minimalist when it comes to most things, communication included, so when he sends over articles, there is a significant reason, and 2.) because, if my dad read this article and recognized it’s direct correlation to our program and training beliefs, it means that we are definitely communicating our MAD Theory and fundamental beliefs well enough for a non-member (or fitness professional) to grasp and appreciate how and why we are different.

I skimmed the article quickly for about 10 seconds when I realized this was more of a ‘start from the beginning and take it all in’ kind of a read.  Each point resonated with me, both as a former Division I athlete, as a part of this ground-floor MADabolic team that has been going up against the same challenges to re-direct the masses from empty and unsafe training practices.  Typically the challenge lies in converting those who bought into mainstream or popular fitness trends without having any real understanding of why, or how it will actually impact their bodies and overall fitness.

Taking the focus off of brute strength and isolated strength tests (i.e. the bench press) to develop and enforce function, balance, and flexibility in athletes creates transferable skills and stronger actual athletes. Stanford’s Director of Sports Performance, Shannon Turley, championed these principles and the belief that having the best bench press simply means you have the best bench press – it proves nothing in terms of athleticism or ability to be the best athlete.

Turley began strength training with bodywork, forcing athletes to find strength and control in their own bodies, developing and challenging their own natural movement patterns.  Like the primal movement pillar of our MADabolic programming, Turley enforced the idea that ability begins with mobility, and strength can then be developed from there.  The idea that this ‘real world applicable [man] strength’ creates better and more consistent performance, from both strength and athletic function perspectives, is exactly what we have been proving in our communities.


While the first goal may be mobility, and then stability and strength, if injury prevention is not ranking high both in goals and in implementation, there is a flaw in the program. Turley has been criticized and constantly challenged to prove his methodologies against traditional strength and conditioning practices, but it’s hard to argue with his results.  Since he took over at Stanford injuries have decreed by 87% and the team has gone from a record of 1-11 to playing in bowl games for the last 4 consecutive years.

Our own MAD Scientist, Brandon Cullen, also chimed in on the article; ‘This article is important because these theories are being applied at the elite level of collegiate sports.  Turley is laying down a solid foundation to build professional athletes.  If he believes function, balance, and flexibility are important for the highly capable, young athlete in their prime, and is proving it, then why are so many programs for the everyday weekend warrior neglecting this?  If anything, this overall thought of balance should be even more important for the everyday client.”

Over the next few weeks we are going to drill down even further with some of these points, via our corporate team, to more personally and exactly share how these fundamentals have been proven through our personal experiences, across our diverse backgrounds.

If you haven’t read the article yet, please do check it out to both let it resonate with you and your athletic lifestyle, whatever it may be, and to better relate to the same fundamental beliefs and practices we try to engrain in our clients every day.


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