Have you ever met someone who was just a naturally gifted athlete? Maybe it was the kid on the playground who could hit the ball a mile the first time he swung the bat. Or maybe the person who placed in the top 10 of an obstacle course race on their first attempt. Perhaps it was someone who turned up to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the first time and just “got” how to sink in submissions. These are all examples of people who have a high level of kinesthetic intelligence.
What Is Kinesthetic Intelligence?
Developmental psychologist Howard Gardner proposed that there were seven different types of intelligence in 1983 (with an eighth intelligence added in 1999). One of those seven original intelligences was kinesthetic intelligence. Characterized by innate levels of athleticism, strength, flexibility, endurance, and so on, those with high levels of kinesthetic intelligence are often thought of as “natural athletes”.
They tend to be the type that “learn by doing”, don’t like to sit still for too long, and have a lot of energy. New sports or activities come easily, and though they can usually perform well, can’t tell you why or how. These are also the people that often end up in careers that involve movement, working with their hands, and the like.
Does Kinesthetic Intelligence Help or Hinder?
It would seem apparent that those having higher levels of kinesthetic intelligence would have the upper hand in physical activities, events, or sports. This is true initially as they naturally can perform at a higher level. However, because these folks can do so more easily, it can lead to low motivation and less discipline. This is because they don’t have to work nearly as hard to achieve the same success as their competitors, therefore may not develop the same sort of work ethic.
If you are the type that physical activities come to more easily, don’t let yourself think you can get away without working hard. You might do more and better than everyone else at first, but you’ll eventually encounter someone with the same inherent abilities as you. If this person has worked harder all along, you won’t be able to keep up. As the old cliché goes, “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”.
Can it Help You be a Better Bodybuilder?
As far as the gym goes, being more athletically-inclined isn’t always that big of a benefit to bodybuilders. There’s not a need to do many movements that are that technically demanding in your bodybuilding workouts. If you can squat, deadlift, and row with good form, you’re about as athletic as you’ll need to be.
However, a higher level of kinesthetic intelligence could be very helpful on stage. Having better control over your body and simply being able to move more gracefully could easily translate to a better and more impressive posing routine. This is one of the reasons some bodybuilders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu took up ballet – to be able to better move their body. Those having more kinesthetic intelligence can do this naturally.
Any time you can better and more easily move your body, you’re going to benefit. Whether you play a sport, participate in physical activities, or are just a bodybuilder that wants to look more graceful while posing, having more control over your movement is always going to help. While a natural tendency toward this would always be nice, you can overcome it with harder and dedicated work.