Many people believe that weight training reduces your flexibility - it somehow seems logical that putting on muscle would make you stiffer. But is it true? Recent research calls this belief into question.
It's one of the most powerful exercise myths of all - weight training makes you stiff and inflexible. There's even a name for it - muscle bound. But recent research suggests that the opposite is true, and that weight training can in fact increase flexibility.
It's not clear where this myth started, though it's likely that it came from photos of championship body builders in exaggerated poses, chests puffed out, arms held out and away from the body. They certainly look stiff, unnatural. The reality is far different however.
To test this, a team of Brazilian researchers put a group of elderly women on a weight training programme which consisted of the following resistance machine exercises:
- Chest press
- Seated row
- Shoulder press
- Seated biceps curl
- Seated triceps press
- Leg press
- Calf press
- Ab crunch
To be sure that any effects came entirely from the weight training, no flexibility exercises were included in the programme. At the end of the programme, researchers compared the women with a control group that had performed no exercise.