Researchers believe strength training is surprisingly effective to improve flexibility in the long term.
In a study, conducted by researcher Alam Saraiva and colleagues, the effects of two different strength training regimens were tested in elite athletes as part of a series of upper and lower body flexibility measurements.
The study showed improvements in flexibility in both strength training programmes.
Thirty-nine professional judo male athletes with at least five years of competitive experience and who were training to compete in the Brazilian Judo National Championships volunteered for the study.
The athletes followed a 3 workout per week training programme which comprised of 8 exercises for 3 sets of 10 reps taken to muscular failure. One group performed upper body exercises (bench press, lat pulldowns, shoulder press and barbell curls) and the other group focused on legs (squat, leg press, leg extension and leg curls).
Strength training increased upper and lower body flexibility in both groups. The study underlines the importance of increasing an athlete’s range of motion in addition to building strength. Both flexibility and stability also prevent injury. When you are more flexible you can build more strength and explosiveness.The stronger your stabilizer muscles are (the smaller supporting cast of muscles around joints that contract at a moment’s notice to support the joint when it’s in an extreme position), the more control you will have in positions of full flexion, extension and rotation.
The researchers recommend strength coaches to focus on both strength training and flexibility exercises in the gym with the understanding that they build upon each other.
So if you want to become more flexible, lifting weights is a good way to start.