Men tend to be more resistant to flexibility work than women. And, while flexibility doesn’t seem to fit in the fitness world of weight and strength training, in reality, it really does. In fact, it can make all the difference in terms of gains and progress. So, if you’re a man who’s hesitant to stretch, beyond when you’re warming up, here are some great reasons why you should incorporate flexibility work into your fitness lifestyle.
Try the stretching classes on Aaptiv. We’ve got classes for all levels.
Matty Nguyen, an expert strength and conditioning coach at The Heights Barbell Club, explains, “Flexibility is important for a number of reasons. To begin with, we have range of motion, which is the actual degree of movement that we have available with our joints. Each joint has its own space of freedom to move, which can be restricted with muscular tightness. This isn’t due to the muscles being ‘tight,’ but rather being protective, making sure that the body doesn’t go into a range that could cause injuries, such as muscle or ligament tears.”
To improve your range of motion and be able to extend further than what you can do now, it’s important that men don’t ignore flexibility work. Flexibility gives you the ability to use the full potential of your muscles. This definitely does help with muscle growth. As Nguyen says, “More range means training is much more likely to implicit muscular hypertrophy. An example is only doing half range bicep curls versus full-length bicep curls.”
Balances the Body
Your entire body should work in unison. However, sometimes imbalances in the body can occur. For example, this can happen when you are putting too much strain or pressure on one muscle. This causes other muscles to overexert themselves to make up for this, increasing the risk of injury.
Flexibility helps to keep your body working like clockwork; it balances the body so that each part is doing its job and everything is running smoothly. By reducing stress on tight muscles, which are relied on more than others, it helps the entire body to work in unison, with better spine alignment. Once your body is balanced, your posture will improve, as well. So, even in everyday actions, such as sitting down or standing up, your body will be aligned the way that it should be.
When it comes to training, tight muscles are common, especially in strength and weight training. Stiff tendons around the muscles can cause tension in the muscles, which means that your range of motion will decrease. If you try to bypass your range of motion threshold, you can injure yourself.
Men shouldn’t ignore flexibility work because it helps to prevent this. By actively working on your stretching and flexibility, you will loosen and relax your muscles, making yourself more mobile. Nguyen says, “This will help prevent injury by allowing more movement in different ranges, and can implicit more muscular hypertrophy and function.”
Not only that, but relaxed muscles actually improve circulation around the body, particularly blood circulation to the muscles; this will also aid in decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Flexibility work, such as stretching, warming up, and cooling down is vital to preventing injuries. At Aaptiv, we’ve got you covered, with classes in all three areas.
While lifting heavy weights can help relieve some stress, so can flexibility work, but in a different way. Rather than vent your emotions, stretching can instill a sense of calm in you that works to reduce your stress and relaxes you.
Not only that but, with your body working in harmony, you will physically and mentally feel much better and balanced. And who doesn’t want to feel this way in their day to day lives?
Extra Flexibility Tips
You shouldn’t feel pain.
Stretching sometimes can get uncomfortable; if you have reached the extent of your mobility, even simple movements, like touching your toes, can result in tension in the hamstrings. You should try to push yourself to go that little bit further, but not to the point where it is painful. Overstretching will do more harm than good—and you could injure yourself. Pay attention and listen to what your body is telling you.
Don’t bounce while stretching.
When you stretch, you shouldn’t bounce—this can also cause injury to the muscle tissue. Instead, gently hold the stretch (if it is a static stretch) for at least 30 seconds.
Pair stretching with active mobility.
Don’t just stretch on its own; pair it with active mobility. Nguyen highlights the risk of being hyper flaccid, which is when there is too much flexibility.
“Being too flexible without any control will also lead to injury, due to instability [and] being unable to hold positions at end range of joints safely and strongly,” explains Nguyen. “In conjunction with stretching, active mobility work to strengthen the end ranges should be incorporated.” He further explains, “The analogy is similar to writing a 1000 word paragraph and not pressing save. After you stretch, you should be strengthening the end ranges to utilize that function more effectively.”
Everyone can benefit from including more flexibility work into training, even males, which is why men shouldn’t ignore flexibility work.
Now that you know why flexibility work is so important, try it for yourself with the classes on Aaptiv.