The Benefit of Play

How to develop a stronger desire to improve specific physical abilities.

Ryan Terrill
4 min readDec 30, 2020

“Being relentless means demanding more of yourself than anyone else could ever demand of you, knowing that every time you stop, you can still do more.”

Tim S. Grover, Relentless, pg. 5

If you are trying to get stronger, gain flexibility, improve power, stabilize your core, there are thousands of different workout programs online just for you. It is always nice to have workouts listed out with the proper amount of sets and reps and what exercises to do. It is easy to read a list and do everything on there. The difficulty arrives in effort. Every repetition of every exercise you should have a complete attention to detail and make sure you are doing the proper movement. You might be able to fly through simple exercises like push ups, pull up, and squats, but how are you changing them up to increase the demand? How do you develop a better drive for success and understand your body’s capabilities and movements? Play. Learn. Solve the puzzle. Move. Adapt.

How much are you demanding of yourself for your future success?

There is a place for a well thought out strength list and training program. However, some of the best results and fun of training comes by just playing around and experimenting on your own. This can allow you to figure out your own personal ways of how to form the right body shapes, do the proper technique on exercises, and helps unlock little personal secrets of yourself to increase your abilities. Doing this requires a little more thought. Nothing is handed to you. You must think about your needs in sport, how your body feels, and you need to develop movements and exercises to really feel what you need to do.

Once you have put some thought and feeling on what you want to work on that day, the possibilities are endless. Opening up the mindset of demanding more of yourself than anyone else is very powerful and also necessary for success in a sport like gymnastics and life. Because gymnastics requires so many different techniques and body shapes that have to be performed at the right speed and at the right time to develop to power and control needed to complete specific skills, you must demand more from yourself to master the basics to increase chance of success.

Experiment. Move around. Become More Aware.

Just last night I was really tight and sore from lifting weights again after a couple days off for Christmas. I didn’t have a plan, I just got on the floor and started stretching and moving around. I didn’t want to, I wanted to shower and go to bed but before I knew it, I was hanging on the pull up bar seeing how slow I could lower and raise back up in a pull up. Then figuring out different compression movements in an upside down hanging pike. Then I was upside down in German hang experimenting with scapular pull ups and extension stretches for Diamadovs. This felt amazing on my shoulders and made me wish I had done these things when I was learning diamadovs. From this my shoulders and body feel better, I developed a greater understanding of my body and spacial awareness in a gymnastics specific skill, and created more ways to improve the gymnasts I coach. This happened all because I got on the floor, shut off all other distractions, and decided to stretch, think, feel and play.

Get Creative

By not having a set list of sets and exercises opens up the doors of creativity and play. So many strength lists of do this and do that can become repetitive, and you can forget about why you began this journey in the first place. The amount of effort and focus are still incredibly necessary, but without the boundaries of a set workout. This allows you to increase your desire to master control of every movement. You might not know what you will come up with or try but the path towards success involves experimentation and play.

Today, play around. Watch videos of great routines and skills you want to be able to do. Try and break down those skills into strength movements. Solve the puzzle and put in more effort than anyone has ever demanded of you.

Let me know what you learn and create for yourself.

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Ryan Terrill

Men’s gymnastics. Trail Running. Resistance Training. Flexibility and Mobility Training. I am a health enthusiast and aspiring ultra athlete.