I cannot remember when I first encountered the concept, though I know it is popular in traithlon, but I find “headroom” increasingly relavant to me. A while back I was explaining to my chi running teacher that I practiced a lot of weightlifting. She explained that from her perspective there was no need for such exertions. Instead, one should be able to use core strength and chi to achieve whatever strength feats one needed. I responded that my life required strength. At the time, with two sons both under two years of age, I had a lot of physical demands on me. A typical strength test would go like this. A dark night, wind and rain. A sleeping child strapped into a car seat to be extricated (and surely there must be a special fire in Hell for the “designers” of child car seat). Also a bag of shopping to haul. The keys to locate, a door to be opened, over-enthusiastic dogs to side-step, and an entrance to be made. Total weight maybe 15kg, but leverage considerable, especially when stretching to get son out of his seat.
That’s why being able to do a decent deadlift is necessary. Stess-free, in a warm and well-lit gymn, with a balanced and symmetrical load that is designed to be dropped, I should be able to generate force, brace my core, and utilise good biomechanics. That gives me headroom: being able to move far more than the simple weights that daily life throws at me, and thus able to cope with the randomness of precious, asymmetrical, wriggly loads under less-than-ideal conditions. Plenty of headroom – no injuries!
If your average working load during the day is a 12 ounce journal or a polystyrene cup of coffee, and if you have ever pulled a muscle doing domestic chores, do you need more headroom?