Being flexible is a definite asset when working out, bodybuilding, playing sports or in life in general. But its often something that is taken for granted as unimportant while we focus most of our effort on our main fitness goals of bulking up in the arms or losing fat from our waist area.
But the reality is that being flexible is the foundation for any ease of movement and as such, can be hugely beneficial when improved. Flexibility indeed is not only required for gymnasts, people who go to pilates or yoga classes but also for people who are dedicated to bodybuilding and the typical athlete. In fact, flexibility is vital for everyone as even walking requires some level of flexibility and stability.
Incorporating a flexibility workout plan into your bodybuilding routine. Will not only maximize your physical performance. But also it will limit your injuries which will protect you from long periods away from the gym.
Why Flexibility Is Important
The primary point of flexibility is so that we can move our bodies in a wide range of motion without injury. It allows us to maintain better coordination, improved mobility and stability. So neglecting flexibility can reduce the range of motion of our muscles and the movements that are available to our bodies.
- Limited flexibility can show in the small pain in the back, or the knees which just seem tight.
- Healthy flexibility can be seen in someone who has good posture and walks well.
- Hypermobility (very flexible) can be seen in gymnasts and ballet dancers who can bend their bodies in ways that most of us can only dream of.
When you can find the motivation to include workout routines which incorporate flexibility. You will see that you naturally avoid injuries which come from tight muscles. If you notice that when working out that you often get small injuries it could be that your flexibility is very restricted.
Many people don’t think about flexibility as necessary at all until they become injured and want to find a way to avoid it next time.
Tight muscles in the back can create on going back pains which can limit your ability to walk let alone to lift a dumbbell or other weights. Since lifting weights is a crucial part of muscle growth for a bodybuilder. It is advised by many sports coach uk to incorporate cardio and other flexibility workout routines such as yoga or pilates into their work out routine.
This is because added flexibility allows us to practice exercises which we would not have been able to do otherwise. This is why a flexibility test is crucial as it gives us the barometer to know which activities we can successfully attempt without injury and which we should not try until we have improved our flexibility level.
The Benefits Of Being Flexible
- You will avoid many aches and pains that can be created through inflexibility.
- Your balance will be improved, this can help with everyday actions like walking, standing and sitting as well as more fitness related actions such as lifting weights.
- Your joints will be able to exert a fuller range of motion which also helps to avoid injuries.
- Increased blood flow which leads to better stamina and endurance through the increased blood flow that is available. This leads to improved athletic performance.
- Easing tension which leads to less stress; stress reduces blood flow within the muscles.
- Better sleep due to less rigidity in the body; when you can truly relax while sleeping without tension in the body. You will find that you are able to reduce stress, cramping and discomfort while sleeping.
- You will void more severe injuries such and sprains and breaks to the bone due to limited mobility and overextension.
- Makes your workout more comfortable, more effective and allows you to gain results that you otherwise would not be able to get.
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How To Do A Flexibility Test
While you could search via everyone's best friend the big ‘G’ search engine for information on exercises for improving your flexibility and how to test yourself. It can also be beneficial to have an objective and professional person who can help you assess yourself and build a training program which will support your goals.
Having a professional to design a workout program can be rather hardcore especially with everything that is already going on in your life. But if you want to build muscle, there are many aspects to your successful training which may not be immediately apparent to you.
While meeting with a sport professional or trainer, they will give you a flexibility test which mostly consists of stretching, so there is nothing to worry. The nice thing about this test is that they will record your ability in the session and if you have another test some months down the line you will actually be able to see your progress.
This is incredibly motivating, and it also opens you up to the ability to use the new machines and delve into an exercise that has a more complex range of motion.
To complete a flexibility test, you should be aware that
- None of the movements should be painful, and you shouldn’t be pumping through the postures in the aiming a gaining a better result.
- It is best to do this test regularly rather than for prolonged periods of time. This helps the body become accustomed to flexing which will help with increasing flexibility.
- Remember the smaller joints are also important while practising. The wrists, toes, fingers, neck and ankles all support the larger limbs and should not be neglected.
How To Improve Flexibility While In Sports Coaching Sessions?
Many exercises that you can work on to improve your flexibility can be found in yoga and pilates. Most if not all are focused on stretching the body, limbs, muscles, ligaments and tendons. To be stronger and of course more flexible. So while your focus is on the flexibility benefits, you can also get strength training for the ligaments and tendons even.
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Example Flexibility Exercise
If you stand up straight with your legs hip-width apart and raise your hands up over your head and then slowly lean to one side as far as you can without discomfort. You will gain a satisfying side stretch which mainly works on
- the Lateral Flexion of Spine – these are deep postural muscles.
- The Latissimus Dorsi muscle – which is the most significant muscle in the back.
- The Gluteus Medius muscle – which is your outer hip.
- The Tensor Fascia Latae muscle – a small muscle found on the outside of the hip.
- The Peroneus muscles – a group of three muscles which are located in the backside of the shin area or the lateral lower leg.
- Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Maximus – your butt area.
Who knew so many muscles were involved in such a simple side bend? While these are not the typical bodybuilding exercises, they will work wonders.
While you get into your flexibility training, you should know that there are also benefits to your heart and lungs, your digestion and elimination systems, your immunity via the lymphatic system.
Additionally, it is important not to forget the dietary side of flexibility. Hydrating your body with water and electrolytes help your muscles to stretch. Some foods to incorporate into your diet to stay hydrated are.
- Oranges help with recovery, destroying the free radicals that are produced through exercise and are packed with vitamin C with is excellent for regeneration.
- Oily fish as they are filled with omega 3 fatty acids which lubricate the joints.
- For everyone who is on a bodybuilding diet and building muscle. You will be glad to know that protein helps a lot with flexibility through the maintenance of the body.
- Water keeps your body hydrated and also flushes away toxins which limit flexibility.
- Turmeric or ginger can help with any inflammation in the body as they are both anti-inflammatory and they also have the added bonus of increasing circulation with their stimulating effects.
No matter what you are doing with your day, working on muscle gains, lifting, or fat burning. No matter what your lifestyle is like active or sedentary. No matter what you look like, whether you have a skinny, athletic, muscular, fat or lean body. No matter what your experience novice or trainer. Absolutely everyone should make flexibility training a priority and include it as a crucial part of your full body workout.
These workouts don’t have to take place in the gym, you can flex those tendons anywhere, and workout routines are easily carried out at home. It doesn’t take too long either even 15 minutes a day can be highly beneficial.
Sometimes our genetics and body composition can make us believe that we could not improve our flexibility. My whole family is relatively inflexible, so I indeed used to think that about myself too. But when I focused on how to build flexibility workouts into my life and dedicated myself to train regularly. Everything changed, and I realised that the issue was not with my genetics but with me not believing in myself and understanding what I was capable of.
With just a bit of a focus on diet and exercise, we all have the opportunity to be the healthiest and strongest versions of ourselves.
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