I really like the photo accompanying this post. It’s a beautiful illustration of what healthy flexibility really is.
Apart from the comments and innuendo I’d hear from my male friends, what I think of when I look at this model is how dedicated to flexibility she must be. Look at the position of her chin on her chest and the way she can extend her arms behind her. And the way her legs are so straight. It’s amazing and it’s inspirational. The last time I was able to do that I was 4-months old getting my diaper changed.
There are three recognized benchmarks of fitness; strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance.
The reason I’m bringing this up is because so many overzealous strength trainers try to represent weightlifting as a sort of panacea that can build all three aspects of fitness. That’s dumb. And it’s irresponsible too. There is no place for heavy muscle-building weights in a flexibility workout. So telling people they should do heavy squats all the way down to the basement while their knees creak and scream or do flat bench dumbbell flyes using heavy weights that nearly pull arms from their sockets is an invitation to a serious and completely unnecessary injury.
This is why it always irks me when somebody says, “Static Contraction might build a lot of muscle but you need a full range of motion to build flexibility. So SCT is only good as a part of a full range lifting regimen.”
Why don’t these guys think this through better? Do you see the women in the photo needing a really heavy weight? Do you ever see a book or class on flexibility training where they issue everyone a heavy barbell? It reminds me of the occasional stories in Popular Science magazine of a flying-car-boat that is a convergence of all three vehicles. But what it really is is a crappy car, a crappy boat and a crappy airplane all in one. There is no need to try that with your fitness training.
And one more thing. When you injure your muscle, tendon, ligament or joint doing heavy, full-range movements – you lose flexibility! Sometimes permanently. More trainers should think about that before giving advice about lifting and flexibility.
For strength – lift very heavy weights under the safest conditions possible. For flexibility – bend your body without forcing it artificially. For cardiovascular endurance – do your favorite prolonged exercise. There is no reason for any one of the above to claim to make the others obsolete or unnecessary.