Flexibility Vs. Strength
In many sports and workout plans, the focus can often be on just one aspect of physical fitness. When you have goals like reaching a new deadlift PB, or mastering a tough yoga pose, straying from your plans can seem like a waste of time.
However, could you be missing out on vital health benefits by favouring strength over flexibility, or vice versa?
When we think of being flexible, the first pictures that come to mind are contortions and gymnastics. You do not have to reach this level of flexibility to gain some of its many benefits. Though of course, if that’s your goal, go for it!
Improved flexibility can decrease your risk of injury when you are working out. Your muscles are less prone to tightness and do not succumb to damage as easily. Your balance and precision of movement are also likely to improve. This is very helpful in reducing accident based injury, as well as improving weightlifting techniques.
A key aspect of improving your flexibility is to aim to be as equal as possible on each side of your body. This is very important for injury prevention, especially if you have sustained an injury before. Many people have a preferred side for their workouts, but try to keep your flexibility as equal as you can.
Exercises that increase your flexibility (such as tai chi and yoga) are excellent for improving circulation around your muscles. This can enhance muscle performance and recovery in other aspects of sports and workouts.
Training with either weights or your own body weight is great for improving your strength. They are great ways to burn calories and fat, not only during the workout but for hours afterwards. In this way, strength training is more effective than many stretching based workouts in losing weight and building muscle.
In making your body more efficient in fat burning and other key functions, strength training can reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease. As well as building your muscles and burning your fat, strength training can also improve your bone density. This makes you less prone to breakages and other injuries.
It is a common misconception that if you do any strength training you will quickly look like a body builder. If that isn’t the aesthetic you are looking for, don’t panic. It takes serious dedication and nutritional planning to get that kind of muscle mass. Not incorporating strength training into your routine for that reason would be like never using your kitchen because you’re concerned you’ll become a Michelin chef.
In order to achieve a balanced, healthy lifestyle with minimal risk of injury, you should incorporate both aspects of training into your routine. That could involve extending your warm up before your weights session. It could mean adding push ups, squats or light weights to your stretching circuits.
Whatever your goal, improving your strength and flexibility will help you get there. They may seem like opposites, but their intertwining benefits will leave you supple, strong and healthy.