3 Ways Stretching Can Help with Strength Training
Many who incorporate strength training into their fitness regimen may or may not stretch before or after; perhaps this is because many studies have shown that static stretching before strength training can produce negative results and even injury.
Static stretching, or stretches that involve a “reach and hold” are thought to negatively impact strength training because they exhaust the muscle to such a degree that this may inhibit its ability to perform a lift. Static stretching is, therefore, a practice that is discouraged at the beginning of a workout.
However, this doesn’t mean that stretching can’t help with strength training in any capacity: it actually can provide three major benefits to boost your strength training workouts.
Range of Motion
Dynamic stretching can improve range of motion, which is very important when it comes to strength training. Reaching full squat depth or extending a joint fully on a bicep curl are crucial to making the most of your strength training workout. Often it can be difficult to reach full range of motion without warming up your muscles first.
Instead of static stretching, dynamic stretching can help improve your range of motion. Dynamic stretching is “active stretching,” or employing a series of movements like arm circles or leg swings that move your joints to their full range of motion without forcing you to hold the position as static stretching does.
Though stretching is inadvisable prior to heavy lifting, intense stretching after a workout can actually boost muscle growth, according to several studies. Intense stretching shouldn’t be considered holding static stretches for minutes at a time; these could include, for example, hanging from a pull-up bar while having someone pull down on your waist, or holding the lowest position of an air squat for 30-60 seconds. Stretches such as these have been shown to increase hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Stretching will also help your muscles recover from a hard workout. Static stretching is preferred after intense exertion, so reserve an extra 15 minutes after your workout to stretch the muscles you’ve worked the hardest. This can improve your range of motion for your next workout, and will also benefit your flexibility.
Stretching takes time, but can provide some impressive benefits to your strength training workouts; completing dynamic stretches before a workout and especially static stretches after a workout, can result in marked improvements in flexibility, range of motion, and recovery.