Does Strength Training Decrease Flexibility?

Gymnasts remind us that muscles and flexibility need not be mutually exclusive. And also that spandex can be super sexy.

You’ve probably heard the age-old adage that lifting weights decreases flexibility. But like so many of the things we’re told about exercise, you’ve probably wondered if it’s really true.

The simple answer is that strength training can decrease flexibility, but it doesn’t have to.

Each time you complete a repetition, you’ve technically shortened your muscles. (To be fair, muscle shortening also happens when we don’t exercise at all – or lead a sedentary lifestyle.) Over time, the shortening caused by weightlifting can add up to a decreased range of motion.

But not so fast. A recent study by the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks shows us that decreased flexibility isn’t inevitable. According to their findings, strength training exercises actually improved flexibility in participants using a full range of motion.

Of course, if you’re cutting each repetition short (i.e., stopping before your thighs are parallel to the floor in a squat), then your muscles might not have the opportunity to lengthen – and you may experience some flexibility loss.

Stretching can still be very important, though it’s important to do it properly. Dynamic stretching (stretching with constant movement, like arm circles) is great before cardio or strength training. Static stretching (holding a pose for a longer period of time), on the other hand, is best saved until the end of a workout. Doing static stretching before strength training exercises actually decreases performance and increases the risk of injury.

With your improved flexibility, you’ll also likely experience a boost in your performance.

The bottom line: Lifting weights won’t result in a lose of flexibility if you perform each exercise through your full range of motion and incorporate proper stretching.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.

Comments

  1. Hey, I thought this was a nice blog. Apreciate you sharing.

  2. You really need to get a golf ball muscle roller, it did wonders for my muscles flexibility, seriously check it out! http://www.zzathletics.com

  3. I think in some ways strength training can limit flexibility. I find I can barely touch my toes, or reach behind my back and stretch with both hands or touch my own shoulder with my hand anymore as some of my musculature seems to get in the way. But as you can see with gymnasts, I think they are fantastically balanced with strength and flexibility. So incorporating stretching regularly every day is key