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Does Flexibility Impede Strength Gains?

Greetings from the combat forum, :slight_smile:

I had a question regarding heavy lifting. I know that squats, deadlifts, and what not often make you tight in the hip flexors (and as I’ve discovered the knee joint as well)… This seems to be the case with heavy lifting in general.

What I’d like to know is if improving your flexibility and getting rid of this “stiffness” will cause my lifts to go down.

For instance lets say I’m doing big #'s in the back squat but, I have tight hip flexors from squatting heavy that are impeding my guard game and my high kicks. So I go on a flexibility plan to improve this and it includes a good amount of static stretching.

Should I expect to see my lifts decline as my flexibility increases?

Well look at top oly lifters… those guys are pretty hyper flexible, it doesn’t seem to have effected them.

I know some people say that excessive flexibility can hurt your lifts, but from my experience, improving my flexibility has only increased mine. It’s improved my range of motion for squats and deadlifts.

Then again, I’m not excessively flexible.

Actually it hurt me a bit in the squat. Before i could just go really fast down in the movement and just bounce back up from bottom position. But now that I’ve extended my range of motion, I have to concentrate on not going too low when I try a PR cause it will limit the amount of weight I can use. Even if I hit the same debt as before I still don’t get that nice bounce from the bottom.

That being said it doesn’t hurt me a lot. Probably something like 5-10 kg.

Only get as flexible as you need to be.

for your sport, perhaps 20% more flexibility would benefit you more than the 5% max strength you could have had if you were less mobile.

that said, you can still be very strong and very mobile at the same time. If you get too mobile and lose too much strength? Stretch less.

I would definitely recommend the “joint by joint” approach to mobility/stability (mobile ankles, stable knees, mobile hips, stable lumbar, etc.)

In reference to Hanley’s post, if you regularly perform actions that require perfect mobility (full snatch/OHS) than yes your body will retain such mobility.

I remember once reading a quote from a sprint coach who said that he has never seen someone who is truly fast but also has highly flexible hamstrings.

I imagine the same thing might apply to max strength.

I think it depends on how flexible you already are. I was very inflexible, strained my hip flexor (painful), was put on a stretching program, came back and my squat was 20-30 pounds heavier.

I was unable to lift weights or run for 2 months and I got stronger just be increaseing my flexibility. I don’t know where the limit is on where excess flexibility is bad, but im sure it’s out there.

Supposedly kadour ziani stretches like four hours a day and he is one of the best jumpers in the world so it hasnt hurt his explosiveness ofcourse everyones different tho. check out his videos if you havent seen them before there awsome.

I mean pursuing level of flexibility

So while I understand the point of performing lifts that require full ROM but i think this might be a little more than they’d attempt and obviously can’t be obtained by just lifting.

I’m pretty naturally flexible, i can put my knees to the ground in the butterfly stretch position already, but I’m pretty damn far from a full lotus or putting my leg behind my head. I’m just curious how this will all affect my strength and if the cost/benefit is worth pursuing much more.

Thanks for the help guys I’m taking it all into consideration.

bump

Flexibility is good. Overstretching a muscle prior to maximal exertion is not recommended though

[quote]Xen Nova wrote:

For instance lets say I’m doing big #'s in the back squat but, I have tight hip flexors from squatting heavy that are impeding my guard game and my high kicks. So I go on a flexibility plan to improve this and it includes a good amount of static stretching.

Should I expect to see my lifts decline as my flexibility increases? [/quote]

I’m a little confused - are you saying this is what you’re experiencing now or a hypothetical?

Also, what are your priorities? Do you want to be a better fighter or powerlifter? I’m not sure there are many people here who are doing both that can give specific advice.

im actually having similar problems right now. Mainly my squatting is very impaired and limited. I have trouble getting to parallel and when i do i need to get my back almost horizontal to the floor. Its horrible so im trying to work on bodyweight squats at night before bed. just trying to get comfortable with being in a deep crouching position. I expect that initially my lifts will drop noticeably since strength in that range of motion hasn’t been developed over the years. But once i can squat properly “ass to the grass style” without being impaired by my flexibility i expect my rate of progress to be substantially improved.

becoming more flexible will help you TREMENDOUSLY as a powerlifter-and even more so as olympic lifter-. Being flexible allows for better technique, making you lift much more weight in the squat and bench press especially.

Some of the best powerlifters and olympic lifters are VERY flexible it only helps them. Also your a fighter, being flexible as a fighter is incredibly important especially if you do grappling.

It will also help prevent injuries, be careful not to overdue it though I was getting very good at split stretch but had someone push me little too far when I was feeling good at it and got a muscle strain so take it slow.

[quote]Brooklyyyn wrote:
im actually having similar problems right now. Mainly my squatting is very impaired and limited. I have trouble getting to parallel and when i do i need to get my back almost horizontal to the floor. Its horrible so im trying to work on bodyweight squats at night before bed. just trying to get comfortable with being in a deep crouching position. I expect that initially my lifts will drop noticeably since strength in that range of motion hasn’t been developed over the years. But once i can squat properly “ass to the grass style” without being impaired by my flexibility i expect my rate of progress to be substantially improved.[/quote]

watch the squatrx series on youtube, he has great exercises for stretching to improve squat flexibility I followed some of his advice and have no problem doing full squats now-I started off as a horrible squatter also-. The increased flexibility has helped me tremendously also in terms of my progress.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Rq8CWv8UPAI there are a lot of them but they are great.

[quote]HoratioSandoval wrote:
what are your priorities? Do you want to be a better fighter or powerlifter? I’m not sure there are many people here who are doing both that can give specific advice.[/quote]

Xen, just to sort of echo this approach (which I think of as pretty common sensical) if all of us here said “yes, absolutely, it WILL hurt your lifts” would that affect your decision as to whether to pursue flexibility? IF it helps your fighting but hurts your lifting, screw it, youre a fighter anyway.

For what it’s worth I think it helps in PL to be more flexible, all other things being equal. Then again, all else is never equal and there are many very strong guys who arent flexible at all

Chad Waterbury has some interesting writings on his view of flexibility and its role in strength sports. Eric Cressey encourages it but only to a point.

Personally I do little flexibility work before I work out. I concentrate on Range of Motion and joint activation. Maybe a little balistic stretching and foam rolling to open things up a little.

After my workouts I have a more traditional flexibility routine. Both combined take about 20 minutes total 3 times a week.

Your saying 2 different things.
The first thing your saying is that you are inflexible from Squats. Which is different then saying your not flexible period. If it was the first case you may just have to squat less frequently or lower the weight and concentrate on rom as well as perform different style squats. The second case yes you would have to just concentrate on flexibility for a period of time.

I’ve looked around for the answer to that question and haven’t seen a definite answer. I have seen what others have already stated which is

  1. Many speed coaches and jumping coaches do seem to think theres a limit to how much flexibility helps. Whether this is an old school approach or not I don’t know but Olympic athletes 50 years ago still jumped higher and ran faster than 99% of the people you know.

2)Don’t excessively static stretch before a workout because it will weaken you temporarily.

In your case I don’t know if squatting is the reason you can’t do a lotus stretch. Thats just a difficult advanced stretch, if you lose strength while getting there it will probably come back once you are done gaining in flexibility but I don’ tknow.

It’s never affected me.
I find my recovery is worse if I dont stretch a lot sfter heavy training.