Flexibility and range of motion generally only enter our thoughts when we feel unwanted tightness in an area we are training and impending injury becomes a concern. With our focus being on packing on as much muscle mass as possible, we neglect the fact that when new muscle is added to our structure, our mobility changes. Additional work on improving flexibility and range of motion is always prescribed as a part of an excellent training program, however many of us don’t have the time to do this or we just avoid it altogether because we don’t see the immediate need. The fact of the matter is that stretching can significantly improve not only our overall structure but also our training sessions and my favorite stretching method to utilize during a weight training session is PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching. PNF stretching incorporates a static stretch combined with additional isometric resistance to further lengthen the muscle.
Here are two great reasons to imbed PNF stretching into your weight training sessions.
Reason #1: Significantly Improves Your Pump
We all know how satisfying the feeling of a great pump is and if you don’t, just go watch Pumping Iron and you’ll see what it has been compared to. Pumping the weights and repping out your favorite exercises will most definitely provide you with a tremendous swell in the target muscle as you are forcing fresh new blood into the region causing your muscles to feel like they are inflating. As much as we would like to just keep pounding out the reps and driving more blood into the muscle, we know we can’t but we can keep forcing in more blood after the set has been completed by using PNF stretching as a means of extending the set. Try this; immediately after a set of bench press, grab a pair of dumbbells, lie back down and go right into the eccentric of a dumbbell flye and hold it there for thirty seconds. Allow your pecs to stretch as far as possible while maintaining that position. After the thirty seconds drop the dumbbells and then just wait to inflate.
Reason #2: Makes you better in your Movements
The exercises we choose to incorporate into our programs are usually the ones we are good at and enjoy performing week after week. In this model, the goal should not only be to improve upon the amount of weight you use week after week, but to also get better at and improve upon the movement patterns itself to increase effectiveness and efficiency. When your range of motion within an exercise is limited, so too is the benefit you will receive from the movement. By incorporating PNF stretching within the sets you are performing, you can immediately increase your range of motion thereby allowing the muscles to lengthen to their capacity, which ultimately means more work will be done and more growth will occur. You will notice an immediate increase in your flexibility when PNF stretching is used, so if things are feeling tight when using a certain exercise, try this to fix the problem on the spot.
Stretching should be looked upon as an integral part of any great training program. The benefits are too plentiful to dismiss it completely from your plan. Incorporating PNF stretching into your weight training program is a great way to get it done without adding too much time to your session and an awesome way to improve your experience in the gym. So make stretching a priority, stretch your budget just a little bit more and buy yourself a couple pairs of Heyday Super Shift Bodybuilding Sneakers so that you can maximize your potential in the gym.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.