Tag Archives | flexibility

Proper Flexibility Training Means Using No Weights – Not Heavy Weights

Proper flexibility training never requires using heavy weights.

Proper flexibility training never requires using heavy weights.

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.

Static Contraction 60-Day Trial

Static Contraction 60-Day Trial

What About Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Training?

One of the hundred or so fallacies that populate the field of strength training is the concept that different principles apply at different times.

Among other things, this fallacy leads to the concept that any training regimen needs to offer different workouts for people who are beginning training than for people who are already training and different again for people who have been training for a long time. Typically, a light, easy routine for the first couple of months or so, then more exercises and slightly heavier weights for intermediates, then many exercises using the heaviest weights for so-called advanced trainees several months after starting training.

Why?

This would make sense if you were, say, training for a marathon run. You can’t just jog 26 miles on day one. You have to work up to it. You have to get conditioned to the various demands of running.

Same deal for stretching and flexibility. You can’t wrap your leg around the back of your neck right away. Nor should you even try.

But how is muscle stimulated to grow? It’s always the same. It has to be subjected to a high intensity of overload. That’s it. What is “high intensity”? It is intensity beyond what the muscle is normally subjected to. So if a 70-year-old woman curls a 10-pound dumbbell that is triple what she normally lifts in her daily activity – it will stimulate her biceps muscle to grow. It doesn’t make the slightest difference if she is categorized as a beginner, intermediate or advanced trainee. All that matters for her – or for you – is creating an artificial load for a muscle that has intensity beyond what it normally handles. Isn’t that fantastic news!?

And it gets better. Many thousands of Static Contraction trainees (like these people) have proven that the duration of that artificial load can be a short as 5 seconds. For anybody.

So grandma can do her maximal 5-second static hold with 10 pounds. And an NFL lineman can do his maximal 5-seconds static hold with 340 pounds. And if they wait long enough for their body to fully recover and to grow that new muscle – they can return to the gym and both of them will be able to lift slightly more weight for 5 seconds. Perhaps grandma can now curl 12 pounds and the lineman can now hoist 365 pounds.

The truth is there are fundamental principles that determine how to get stronger, toned, larger muscles and add more lean to your body. Static Contraction uses those principles to create the most time-efficient workout possible. Literally. The only reason to not like SCT is if your hobby is lifting weights and you really love to spend a lot of time doing it. In that case you are forced to lift a lot of little weights in order to deliberately drag out the process. But for those who have busy lives and just want the many health benefits of being stronger and leaner, SCT is a wonderful tool.