This is what you need to know about strength and mobility: In conversation with coach Zaid Arfan

As we transitioned into this conversation with Coach Zaid about strength and mobility, we realised how education can play such a pivotal role in enabling an individual to test, certify and establish opinions backed by research and information. If you are truly interested in what strength and mobility can do for a human body, this dialogue is for you. 

Please tell us about yourself and what profession you are in.

My name is Zaid Arfan, and I am a Strength and Nutrition Coach, with a specialisation in Mobility.

When and why did you delve deep into strength and mobility?

During the 3rd year of my Biotechnology degree, I had undergone a pretty spectacular transformation that fuelled my curiosity about the fitness industry.

I still had not achieved the goal I had set for myself, even though I had come a long way, so you can probably understand how far from it I was.

Being an obese preteen, going to a super skinny college kid, seeing myself as a muscular person was a pretty refreshing sight. The fact that I still had some way to go to achieve my goal, led me to the internet for answers where I realised just how much misinformation really existed in this space (Having tried out a few things myself, the ketogenic diet being one of them)

This made me dive much deeper in search of answers, having a background in Biotechnology it was easy for me to discern properly conducted research papers from subpar ones.

8 years ago I realised I had a passion for this stuff, I really loved reading more and more about fitness, nutrition, and keeping your joints healthy. 

That’s when I started working as an instructor at a gym, fresh out of college, defying all the future plans my parents had made for me, and it makes me super happy to say that I have never looked back since.

Who should do mobility training and how does it help?

Mobility has sadly become a buzzword in recent times, and a lot of people fail to understand the true essence of it, even the well meaning ones. 

Mobility is not just having super high ranges of motion, it simply is the ability to generate force at the end ranges of your joints.

Improvements in mobility can help to a certain degree, but they should only be done to serve the purpose of your Sport or Daily activity. 

Hypermobility, or being excessively ‘mobile’, can actually lead to more problems than solutions. 

This, in my humble opinion, is one of the leading causes of people feeling stiff all the time despite having adequate access to joint ranges of motion.

Having access to the required ranges of motion in each joint to function in your daily life, as well as having the ability to generate force at those end ranges, is enough for most people.

Some quick tips for strength building enthusiasts and beginners?

- Be patient with plateaus. They happen to the best of us. Remember, quitting won’t get you to your goals any sooner.

- Strength adaptations are the poorest when you go to failure. Always work in a 1-2 RIR (Reps in Reserve) range, maxing out only once every two weeks or so.

- Beginners, you will be able to see the numbers soar in the beginning, making unbelievable gains every week (if your programming is good), but at some point those numbers are going to slow down. Remember, that is COMPLETELY NORMAL. Just keep pushing, and even if you can improve on your lifts by 1 kg per week, well guess what, in 10 weeks you will be lifting 10 kg more than you are now. The trick is in sticking to the process, and trusting it even when things don’t seem to be going your way.

Does strength and mobility find relevance in the lives of the metropolitan workforce? If yes, how?

Of course. 

The metropolitan workforce can, on an average, be fairly inactive on a daily basis.

The lesser you move, or rather, the more time you spend in the same exact position, the more your body tends to lose key ranges of motion, especially around your hips and shoulders, which has the potential to then translate into incidents of neck and back pain.

This seems like a good time to also put up a disclaimer saying: Pain is multifactorial. It is not just a physiological issue. Just doing mobility is not the answer for someone suffering from chronic pain, but it can definitely be a start. For more details the next time we talk, OR, just follow my page on Instagram. :)

Anyway, continuing where I left off, these missing ranges of motion in our metropolitan workforce, can reduce their ability to do certain activities pain free, and just makes us a less efficient part of society, where we aren’t able to function at our highest potential.

Thus, building a mobility routine, entered around improving strength in the end ranges of motion we gain through it, is a recipe for success for almost everyone who wants to perform at their highest level on a daily basis.

It is often said that mobility training can prevent injuries and make you stronger and younger. What is your take on this?

Can it make you stronger?

Yes, if done correctly in the way described above.

Can it make you younger?

Well, it can most definitely increase the strength and longevity of your joints, so maybe we can make that extrapolation at least in a physiological sense, haha!

Can it prevent injuries?

This is where the line gets blurred. A lot of people believe mobility can prevent injuries altogether. I’m here to tell you that while it may reduce the susceptibility of someone to get injured, NOTHING can outrightly prevent any injury.

Trying to prevent an injury is like trying to prevent rain from falling. 

We never know what might happen. Freak accidents can ALWAYS still happen.

But yes, it does equip you to handle some situations better.

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