The forgotten flexibility method

by | July 2, 2019 | Fitness, Sport performance

One of the best ways to increase range of motion and flexibility is…
Foam rolling?
Mobility drills?
Sure, those are all good.
But, one of the most forgotten and overlooked methods is actually…
Strength training. 
I know…. It sounds crazy!
Gone should be the days when you think that strength training makes you “muscle-bound”.
That’s just not the case! 
Good, solid reps in a full range of motion in your strength exercises can and will increase your flexibility. 
All the while building strength,
Building muscle, 
Building power,
Building confidence, 
Building resilience,
And building performance. 

Why strength training is awesome for increasing flexibility

1. Better bang-for-your-buck and time-saving
You’re busy.
We get it.
With kids to run around,
Jobs to do around the house,
Your actual job,
And you’re own health to take care of,
There are barely enough hours in the day to get everything done.
Well, good strength training eliminates the need to stretch and foam roll for hours daily. 
Plus you get stronger,
More powerful,
More muscle,
More injury prevention,
And more hotness. 
Proper strength training takes a ton off your plate.
2. Control in the range you’re taking your muscles and joints through 
One of the issues with simple passive stretching as it pertains to performance is that you’re not controlling the range of motion as you perform the movement.
You’re just letting the increased range happen.
For example, throwing your foot on the boards and stretching out your hammies. 
There’s not a ton of functionality there.
But, when increasing flexibility via strength training 
you add control and strength to the increased range your taking your muscles and joints through. 
You are actively moving the muscle through its full range, 
And that’s what happens in real life. 

How to increase flexibility via strength training

Do your exercises properly. 
Here’s what we mean: 
1. Lower the weight in 2-3 seconds.
This allows you to have control of the weight and keeps the movement safe. 
2. Hold and own the bottom position
To really get that stretch effect,
And get the performance-specific control on top of it,
You need to hold that bottom position for 1-2 seconds,
And squeeze and feel the muscles being worked. 
3. Use full range of motion
Obviously, this is going to differ from person to person.
That’s why it’s essential to stick to your own personal range for each exercise.
You can build it up over time,
But there is little to no benefit to sacrificing form for a little extra range…
You do need to stay within a safe range that’s appropriate for your body,
Your joints, 
And your tissues.
Taking it beyond that point may put undue strain on the wrong structures in your body.
Here are some instances of taking your range too far. 
Deadlifts with lower back rounding
Rowing with forward shoulders
Bench press with forward shoulders 
Squat w/ butt wink
Overhead press with extension and forward head 
With these exercises, work within the range that allows you to keep perfect technique.
The exception being the overhead press…
Do 60- to 75-degree presses instead and do back to wall shoulder flexion drills to increase that range.
You could also do landmine presses.
Over time, slowly try to build up that range of motion using the principles above. 

Best strength exercises for increasing flexibility 

Almost every exercise has the opportunity to increase your range of motion if done properly,
But here are some of our favourites: 
Barbell straight-leg deadlifts
One-leg deadlifts 
Standing toe press
Rear-foot elevated split squats
Suspension trainer push-ups
Band pull-aparts
Goblet squats
Dumbbell presses
Sometimes less is more.
As in, focusing on fewer things decreases overwhelm,
And decreases the likelihood of you doing nothing at all. 
Hello, paralysis by analysis. 
One of those things to focus on is strength training. 
It’s a bang-for-your-buck option that can not only build strength,
Build muscle, 
Build power,
Build resilience,
And build efficiency,
But also…
Increase flexibility.

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