Many people believe that weightlifting impairs flexibility. Is this true?
Athletes were once advised not to lift weights because it would make them stiff and inflexible, and hurt their performance.
Well, we now know better. Sure, being a hulking brute naturally limits your flexibility (big bodybuilders have an interesting time wiping on the toilet and showering), but research has shown that weightlifting itself, with a full range of motion, actually increases flexibility just as well as, or even better than, static stretching.
In a study conducted by the University of North Dakota, researchers divided 25 volunteers into three groups: a control group (that did nothing, of course), a static stretching group, and a resistance training group.
The result after five weeks: the researchers found no significant difference between the static stretching and resistance training groups in all measures of flexibility (hip extension, hip flexion, shoulder extension, knee extension).
Another study conducted by Castelo Branco University in Brazil showed that 8 weeks of resistance training improved flexibility better than static stretching in all but one measurement.
The reality is that weight training with proper form increases flexibility because you’re repeatedly moving muscles, joints, and ligaments through their full ranges of motion.
In fact, some exercises provide deep stretches that are hard to beat, such as the Dumbbell Fly, Romanian Deadlift, Dumbbell Pullover, Dumbbell Row, and Overhead Triceps Press.
So, improved flexibility is yet another reason to use a full range of motion in weightlifting (in addition to preventing injuries and improving strength gains and muscle growth).