August 15, 2009 posted by

Remaking The Body

“You’re talkin’ about the Body, Jerry. That’s a fight you can’t win.”-Kramer

There are many clichés about how you’re not able to change the talent you’re born with but, in my latest round of self experimentation, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. With my epic endeavors on hold for a time, my focus is on attempting to extend my flexibility and range-of-motion beyond where they’ve ever been.

This isn’t exactly an attempt to discredit sports science. It’s not like I’m trying to increase my VO2/max from 60 to 80 or do any number of things that are, indeed, impossible. But there are those who believe that you can’t alter your body type at all, especially as you age. Since I’ve already trained people to do this (myself included) I know that they’re wrong. But I’ve never trained anyone my age or older to do it, so I’m using my forced down time to challenge another human performance theory.

It’s not exactly down time, mind you. I can do plenty of exercise. But with my back still recovering I can’t push my envelope the way in which I’m accustomed. In order to keep my body calm and under control I need a new test to focus on. Increasing flexibility requires elongating muscle fibers, pulling the actin and myosin filaments apart. Contracting the muscles, especially over the time it takes to cover ultra distances (my thing) bunches them together. With no (or at least less) mega distance endeavors on my plate it’s a good time to work on flexibility training to the point that I can finally push beyond the usual goal, which is just to get my muscles back to normal.

Increased range of motion is a whole different challenge because it requires some structural change and the patience to work through physical limitations that have come about through a lifetime of athletic injuries. I was born with poor range of motion, as was my entire family. Even my brother, who has been practicing yoga for more than 20 years, only has average range of motion. So my goal with this experiment isn’t to get on stage with Cirque du Soliel. It’s to increase my range of motion beyond what it’s ever been. This will allow increases in athletic performance and give me a larger buffer against injuries, allowing me to do deeper during my epic adventures.

Two weeks of morning yoga, which has been mainly focused on back recovery, has already seen my flexibility return to where it was pre-injury. Given that I haven’t been able to fully bend forward since December, that’s two weeks to make up for seven months. And since I’ve got to lay off mega challenges until, at minimum, early next year, it should be interesting to see what I’m able to accomplish by then.


  • Sounds like a great challenge. I'm always trying to work on my flexibility as well. For me, my hips are the problem. I can do the splits in a pretty short period of time after working on it, but I can sit in a traditional meditation pose for anything! Please keep us updated on your progress.

  • Keep doing it for us old guy, Steve! I'm seriously lacking in flexibility myself. Could use a good yoga class. Does BeachBody do a stretching video?

  • We have a bunch, though they're all a part of other programs. We used to package a few together as a 'recovery pack' on my suggestion but I don't think that's still available. So, yes, but you have to pick and choose. Most are have stretch in their title but some, like Deb's Cool It Off (one of our best) are targeted as recovery.We may have something better coming with a cleanse program we're working on.

  • Today I had a major (looked minor but felt major to me) transformation in the hips. I'm thinking that every other time I've focused on stretching or yoga I've offset it with my standard amount of other training. I'm still doing other training, just less, so there seems to be some room left from improvement in this area.

  • Steve,Thanks for your blog. Are you going to post the stretches or exercises you are doing to accomplish your goal?Thanks,Zach

  • Good idea, Zach. I'm waiting right now until I'm certain I don't injure myself worse, then I'll post what I've been doing.

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