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Lifting and Flexibility

It seems pretty well established (here at least, if not in the outside world) that lifting does not make you muscle-bound. But I’m wondering if lifting can actually increase flexibility.

Oddly, after a lack of regular static stretching for years, I decided to give it a go to see how I’d do compared to the last time I tried, several months ago (stiff as hell). This time I was utterly amazed. Not only was I more flexible than everyone else at the gym, but I was on par (and in many instances better) than my best as a kid. And I was a pretty flexible kid. The only real difference in that timespan was that I joined a powerlifting club, and started doing moderate-light amounts of foam rolling and mobility and lots of heavy compound lifts 4 times a week.

What I’m curious to know is if such a drastic change in my flexibility can be attributed to weight training. Thanks in advance!

[quote]Apoklyps wrote:
The only real difference in that timespan was that I joined a powerlifting club, and started doing moderate-light amounts of foam rolling and mobility …

What I’m curious to know is if such a drastic change in my flexibility can be attributed to weight training. [/quote]

I think you answered your question before you even asked it.

And, what exactly did you eat yesterday?

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[quote]Apoklyps wrote:
It seems pretty well established (here at least, if not in the outside world) that lifting does not make you muscle-bound. But I’m wondering if lifting can actually increase flexibility.

Oddly, after a lack of regular static stretching for years, I decided to give it a go to see how I’d do compared to the last time I tried, several months ago (stiff as hell). This time I was utterly amazed. Not only was I more flexible than everyone else at the gym, but I was on par (and in many instances better) than my best as a kid. And I was a pretty flexible kid. The only real difference in that timespan was that I joined a powerlifting club, and started doing moderate-light amounts of foam rolling and mobility and lots of heavy compound lifts 4 times a week.

What I’m curious to know is if such a drastic change in my flexibility can be attributed to weight training. Thanks in advance![/quote]

I cant be bothered to find the articles/research, but im 90% sure that heavy resistance training has been proven more effective at increasing mobility than stretching. It is specific to the movements and mobility work that you do, though.

I agree with mkral55. Weight training can definitely get you more flexible IMO but it does depend on the specifics of your training. In my own experience I have chronic hamstrings and have badly torn the right one twice and the left one once plus other smaller tears over the years from playing football.

I static stretched them 3 times per day everyday for years and I doubt it did all that much. Whilst doing the stretch it does feel better unfortunately that only lasts about 10 minutes then your back to where it was before. This is a hotly debated topic and many people believe static stretching does work but in my experience it did give a relaxing feeling for a brief period but nothing more.

Specific exercises however proved to be far more productive. In this case Romanian Deadlifts were golden. As I got better and stronger at them I found I could go down further whilst mainlining a straight back. This was the first time i was ever able to get an increase in flexibility in my posterior chain.

I hate increasing flexibility but nothing increases it like lifting in full ROM. I stretch for a few weeks it does nothing. I do some stiff legged deadlifts of a platform and can nearly touch my head to my knees in a month. Same thing with benching, pull ups and other exercises. On the flipside sometimes this increased flexibility comes with increase joint laxicity.

I think I’m the anomaly here. Having read years ago that powerlifting and stretching don’t mix, I almost completely stopped stretching and my flexibility suffered tremendously and numerous injuries ensued. Particularly hips and hamstrings. Never have I been able to regain the flexibility that I used to enjoy. So, what is everyone doing that you’re all so flexible? I see RDL’s and SLDL’s…anything else that I missed the boat on?

[quote]Jackie_Jacked wrote:
I think I’m the anomaly here. Having read years ago that powerlifting and stretching don’t mix, I almost completely stopped stretching and my flexibility suffered tremendously and numerous injuries ensued. Particularly hips and hamstrings. Never have I been able to regain the flexibility that I used to enjoy. So, what is everyone doing that you’re all so flexible? I see RDL’s and SLDL’s…anything else that I missed the boat on?[/quote]

It’s all about lifting in a full range of motion. Powerlifters often end up stiff and sore. This can be corrected through specific exercises that will take you through a full range of motion under load.
Bare in mind you only need to train for the specifics of your sport. Being flexible in the shoulders for example would not be a good thing for a weightlifter or powerlifer but would be ideal for a baseball or basketball player.

Would this also apply to, for example:
-calves with a good stretch during calf raises;
-hip flexors during Bulgarian split squats/lunges;
-pecs during DB presses/flies

Or maybe even a weighted static hold as above?

[quote]Iladhar wrote:
Would this also apply to, for example:
-calves with a good stretch during calf raises;
-hip flexors during Bulgarian split squats/lunges;
-pecs during DB presses/flies

Or maybe even a weighted static hold as above?[/quote]

Yes. The one caveat is that you have to be careful with loaded active stretching; if you forcefully try to extend your range of motion, it’s a good way to hurt yourself.

I don’t know how well it carries to others, but I know for myself pushing the ROM on exercises seriously increased my flexibility. I couldn’t touch my toes no matter how many hamstring stretches I did. Once I got form nailed down on squat/deadlift and was doing more dynamic work, I am far more flexible cold than I ever was warm. Static stretch sucks.

[quote]Airtruth wrote:
I hate increasing flexibility but nothing increases it like lifting in full ROM. I stretch for a few weeks it does nothing. I do some stiff legged deadlifts of a platform and can nearly touch my head to my knees in a month. Same thing with benching, pull ups and other exercises. On the flipside sometimes this increased flexibility comes with increase joint laxicity.[/quote]

Am I right in assuming that having increased joint laxity is a downside because of risk of injury?

I have to spend some time static stretching because my natural mobility is so awful. To paraphrase Kelly Starrett, sometimes there is no substitute for just spending some time static stretching, in order to lengthen the tissue. But PNF stretching is important too. Targeted soft tissue work can make a huge difference too.

In the past, I have noticed that RDLs help increase my hamstring flexibility, but squats haven’t helped my hip mobility etc as I am just too tight to get into an optimum position. So, I require extra mobility work to get to the stage where I can squat properly.