One of the big “myths” that have haunted weight lifting is that building muscle will make you less flexible. Throughout the years, I have seen some incredibly flexible people. Some have muscle and some don’t have much to speak of. A person’s lack of flexibility has more to do with their lack of stretching than anything. Proper weight lifting should actually help your flexibility.
I have no doubt that anyone can feel tight in their muscles. Motion is one of the best ways to assure that you are able to have the best Range of Motion (R.O.M.) that you can have. We lift weights to build strength. That strength helps to stabilize and move joints. We need to understand how that works.
I see a lot of weight lifters lifting weights at all costs. They will use improper form, momentum and risk their joint health just to get a weight up. If you get injured from this type of lifting, it will limit your R.O.M. due to inflammation from the injury. Hopefully, you will recover from this injury. If you continue to do this type of abuse to your body, you may permanently injure yourself. Push yourself in the weight room but listen to your body. Are you going through a full range of motion? Do you understand what the proper R.O.M. is for that exercise? Are you able to lift the weight without using momentum and fad form? If so, then you are fine.
Most of us are creatures of habit. One of the factors that keep a person from feeling flexible is their lack of exercise selections. I think it is good to do basic, challenging exercise that work a lot of muscles at once. The bench press is great example for the pecs (chest), shoulders and triceps. This compound movement has been used for decades as a staple exercise for the upper body. The shoulder joint can get worn down from doing that movement over and over. Make sure you do other movements such as a chest fly with cables or dumbbells to stretch those pecs out and slowly go through a greater range of motion in the shoulder. Abandon the bench press for a few weeks for a completely different angle and focus on the incline bench press or even substitute the barbell for individual dumbbells.
Legs are probably the most important muscles to keep flexible. I see very lean, skinny people who have hamstrings that are so tight that they can barely lean forward and touch their knees without rounding their backs much less even consider touching their toes. Ironically, I have also seen professional body builders who can do the splits. Lack of flexibility is commonly linked to lower back issues. When you see a weight lifter do the leg press with large amounts of weight and only go a few inches down, they are limiting their R.O.M. The leg press is great. I do it often. I also like to do walking lunges without weight and take big steps and go nice and slow to get my legs a greater range of motion and to keep up my R.O.M. They make me sore but I also love how it strengthens muscles throughout a great R.O.M. compared to the leg press. I combine the two for a greater workout. You must also understand that some exercises are not for everyone either. Lunges can be hard on some people’s knees and they are not for beginners. Variety is also important so your body keeps guessing on what you will do to it next.
My online clients get new workouts each month. I like to change up exercises for my online clients each month in order to force the body to develop strength in different ranges of motion and angles. This change of exercises also keeps the body responding better and keeps the mind tuned into the workout motivation. These changes help increase potential for maximizing their R.O.M.
We can’t talk about R.O.M. without discussing stretching. Use it or lose it. You have to stretch on a frequent basis to maximize your flexibility. Perform static stretching 15 seconds here and there throughout the day if you are limited on a formal stretching routine time. The stretching improves R.O.M. and that will also improve your potential for strength and decrease potential for injuries. I am sure flexibility, strength and preventing injuries goes hand in hand with the rodeo. I don’t know anyone who would not want to improve on those elements of their performance in the rodeo. Combining strength training with a proper stretching routine works every time.
This post was written by our Guest blogger; Brian Attebery!
(Brian Attebery is Miss Rodeo America 2015, Lauren Heaton’s Trainer. He is an Exercise Science Degree from O.U. and is a Certified Trainer. He owns and operates Results Fitness & Nutrition Center in Oklahoma. He has had 18 years of Pageant Winners and directs clients all over the Nation via his personalized online fitness and nutrition programs. www.resultsfitnessusa.com)