Is Stretching Good for Weight Training?
The short answer is yes! But the question is why? And what does stretching do for weight training.
These are some of the common answers given in terms of what traditional stretch adds to weight training and exercise:
- Stretching is good for the heart after a workout because it give an opportunity to 'cool down' and return your heart rate to a normal level.
- Stretching helps reduce lactic acid that accumulates in the body during a workout and can cause soreness. So stretching helps you be less sore after your workout.
- Stretching keeps you flexible and therefore limits the chance of join strain or injury after a workout.
At Bendable Body - we are definitely not taking the 'traditional' approach. Our method of stretching with resistance to improve the health of your fascia and get your muscles working better... will make any exercise, physical activity and even mental activity that you like to do - better!
John likes to say, no matter what you are doing, 'the best body wins'.
So if your goal is to improve strength training, resistance stretching will do that faster than just about anything else.
When you are lifting a weight, you are making a concentric movement. The target muscle is going from a lengthened position to a shortened position while bearing a weight.
Let's take the example of a bench press. This is a weight lifting exercise for the chest and bicep muscles.
When you are making this concentric movement in the chest and biceps - going from a long to a short position, the muscles on the opposite side of body, we call them balancing muscles, are doing the opposite. They are going from a shortened position to a lengthened position. So in the case of the bench press, the target muscle group is the chest and biceps and the balancing muscle group is the back of the shoulders and triceps.
Do you need to stretch for weight lifting?
With any form of exercise, workout or weight lifting included, you can get injured. The primary cause of an injury is one muscle or grouping of muscles doesn't shorten sufficiently as you are moving or lifting and so another has to compensate with an over-stretch and is then in a vulnerable position and could potentially get a strain or tear.
In the example of the bench press for the arms, when you get into the start position to lift the weight, the muscles on the back of the shoulder and triceps are required to shorten. But what if they don't due to an accumulation of unhealthy fascia? (Which is very common for 'back of the body' muscles.) The muscles on the front - the chest and biceps, will need to over stretch at the start of the movement and could get injured. If you want to be able to lift the weight with more ease and without fear of injury, you will benefit greatly from first stretching the balancing muscle group.
Does Stretching hurt your gains?
Resistance stretching certainly does not. It has significant benefits and will improve your gains significantly. As indicated from the example above. However, in addition to stretching the balancing muscle group, if you stretch the target muscle group with resistance using the Bendable Body Method, you will see a minimum of a 15% increase in strength and be able to add more weight to your strength training, or do weight you are used to with increased repetitions more ease.
The Bendable Body Method of resistance stretching gets muscles working better. That is the true way to increase flexibility. The idea that flexibility is range of motion is only part of the picture. True flexibility is both range of motion and muscle strength or contratility. You won't just get your muscles strong through concentric movements - weight lifting. You have to also address the fascia and resistance stretching is the only exercise movement that does that. When you remove the unhealthy fascia from a muscle, it now has the ability to recruit more of it's fibers and actually strengthen properly. Before that it doesn't.
Before/After Weight Lifting Stretches
When and how do you stretch? Do you have a nightly stretching routine, do you love yoga? Dynamic stretches? No matter your level of fitness - whether you are an olympic athlete or an ordinary person, the question of how to stretch and when to stretch are big ones.
As it relates to incorporating stretching with your weight lifting, our recommendation is the following:
Before you lift weights do resistance stretches for the balancing muscle group so that you can lift weights with easy in the target muscle group and also protect yourself from injury.
After you lift weights do resistance stretches for both the target muscle group and the balancing muscle group. This is a great way to take the 'event' out of your body and increase your recovery.
*Remember: When you are lifting weights the target muscle that you are strengthening is of course involved, but so is the balancing muscle on the opposite side of the body.