But can you even point out a single person who incorporates any type of flexibility into their routines?Personally I know around 100 people at my gym. Yet I can only count 2 people … a couple of people … that faithfully incorporates flexibility into their routines.
Weight training can increase or decrease flexibility depending on a few factors. It doesn’t just depend on how the exercise is done but how much weight is used and the ROM (range of motion). Adaptations from beginners to advanced athletes varies and that will affect flexibility as well.
But let’s suppose…
You use relativity light weights and go thru a full ROM. In this case you will be able to increase and maintain your flexibility!But what if you are trying to build muscle and increasing the number of sets and weight?As you start to increase the number of reps, sets and especially weight, you weight training could result in a loss of flexibility. There are two reasons for this:
1- When you start doing very heavy weights, you rarely if ever go thru a full ROM because of the loss in mechanical advantage.
2- Using heavy weights can bring about something called residual tonus in the muscles. When tonus is sufficiently strong, it can cause the muscles to stay in a shortened state long after the workout.
But even if you were to concentrate on doing a full ROM with heavy weights, there are facts like sets and repetitions that come into play. The more work you do, you will find that one the last set of an exercise, your ROM decreases.
Fatigue starts to set in and the muscles can tighten from the amount of work being done making it very difficult to achieve a full ROM on every rep. The more work you end up doing, the greater the chance a decrease in flexibility can occur.
For all these reasons…
If you engage in heavy or intense weight training sessions, you should supplement them with stretching, preferably after the workout and active in nature. This will help ensure you regain the normal ROM for those joints involved.
This becomes even more important if you have done any types of exercises where the spine is involved in a weight bearing movement where joints and discs could become compacted. Like holding the weights on the shoulders or overhead.
Let’s say you do some multiple sets of a bicep curl. You could do a straight arm hang on a high bar to regain the the straight arm position. For the lower back, hanging is also very beneficial.
Keep in mind that if you are stretching between sets (squats/deadlifts/bicep curls) that isn’t for flexibility but to regain the full ROM you had prior to that exercise.