Authors of a brand-new meta-analysis published in the journal Sports Medicine examined 55 studies that compared the effects of strength training vs. stretching on flexibility. This paper represents the current state of the science on the topic. The researchers’ conclusion is shocking to most people: Resistance training improves flexibility to the same extent as stretching. Stated otherwise, if you are lifting weights, you are performing the most effective flexibility training known to humankind.
Interestingly, this does not apply to bodyweight exercise. It turns out that we need additional external resistance (machines or free weights) in order to receive these flexibility benefits. Bodyweight exercises are suitable for improving muscle strength, size, and endurance, but they do not contribute to improved flexibility.
Take home message: If you want to become more flexible, strength training works just as well as stretching.
Final Note: The authors clearly state that for the purposes of improved flexibility, we do not need to stretch at all if we are already engaged in strength training. However, there are probably no negative side effects of performing stretching as a method of relaxation or mindfulness practice.
See the full study on strength training vs. stretching HERE.
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