Last Updated: October 19, 2017
One commonly neglected element of many people’s workout routines is flexibility training. While flexibility training is not going to offer the same fat loss or muscle building benefits that strength training or cardio training would provide you, it still is important to get added into your workout mix. There are many unique benefits that only flexibility training can provide, so it’s not something you should overlook.
The first major benefit you’ll get from flexibility training is an enhanced range of motion. If you’re very tense and stiff, not only will this make performing physical exercise less comfortable, but also you won’t be able to reap all the benefits that any given exercise has to offer because you won’t be able to work the muscle fibers in their entirety.
In order to see the best benefits, it is important that you are able to move through the full range of motion and this is only going to be possible when you have some level of flexibility. Improved flexibility makes even everyday lifestyle activities more manageable.
The second benefit to flexibility training is an enhanced level of strength generation. When you are able to move through a longer range of motion, you’ll experience a greater build-up of tension in the muscle cells, allowing them to contract with more force. The more force you have behind you, the more weight you’ll be able to lift and, therefore, the faster you’ll see performance improvements.
Yet another big benefit to flexibility training is that it will help to reduce your risk of injuries. The more flexible you are, the more your body will comfortably move through various ranges of movement patterns, reducing the chances that an oncoming stress causes a muscle pull or ligament tear. Most people who are more flexible find that their bodies can tolerate oncoming forces with greater ease.
As you age, your muscles naturally tighten up, potentially causing an increase in pain during physical activity or even everyday activity as well. Participating in regular flexibility training will enhance your mobility so you can perform routine activities without a problem. Those who suffer from knee and joint pain may also find that flexibility training can help to ease this pain, as the muscles and tendons are so taut around the joints.
Finally, flexibility training can assist with stress reduction as well. By focusing on your breathing while you move through your flexibility training, you can relax the muscles while putting the mind at ease. Tuning into your body like this tends to have a calming effect on the mind, easing whatever worries you’re currently facing.
The benefits of flexibility training should not go overlooked as they are numerous and will enhance your workout performance in other activities as well as your quality of life.
It’s important to understand that there are different types of flexibility training. Let’s give you an overview of each one so you can figure out which is best for you!
Passive flexibility training is the type that most immediately springs to people’s minds. If you’re performing some light stretches before or after your workout session, holding each position for 20-30 seconds before moving on, this is passive stretching. You’re simply moving the body into a position until you feel a muscle stretch; then holding that position, while you focus on deep breathing in and out; and then relaxing the muscles to allow yourself to stretch further into the movement.
This form of stretching is great for relaxing the body, bringing the heart rate down after a workout, and improving your flexibility.
The second type of flexibility training is active in nature. What this will involve is having a partner press gently against a limb (the arms or the legs), while you simultaneously contract against them. You are to continue contracting for 10-20 seconds before relaxing and allowing them to gently push you into a deeper stretch.
This type of stretching does tend to improve your flexibility level slightly further and will even bring some strength benefits as well. It is more intense in nature, though, and must be done in a very controlled fashion so you don’t pull a muscle; be sure to have some general passive flexibility training behind you before moving into this variety.
Finally, the last type of flexibility training you might perform is yoga-based. Yoga is an entire type of activity that is focused around lengthening the muscles, improving your range of motion, and bringing the mind and body into balance.
Take note that there are different forms of yoga and some are more strength-oriented than flexibility-oriented, so choose your classes carefully. Hatha yoga tends to focus on relaxation, with the emphasis on deep stretching, so that’s a good variety to look into.
There you have the information that you need to know about flexibility training. This is one form of training that does offer numerous benefits and will be a great way to enhance your overall recovery from your other workout sessions as well. Those who perform flexibility training on a regular basis tend to note that they aren’t as sore after each workout that they complete, so this is a good way to finish off each workout while you’re in the gym. It only takes ten minutes to do, but will yield many positive benefits.