Flexibility is one of the most important parts of any bodyweight workout routine, more often than not flexibility is either left out entirely or not used to its full potential.
There are so many benefits to stretching and it sometimes surprises me the number of people that will start a rigorous workout without even warming up.
Warming up is essential to ensure that your body is ready for whats about to come.
Making sure all the joints, ligaments and muscles are fired up and ready to go will help you avoid injury and get the most out of your workout.
What Are Some Of The Benefits To Stretching?
- Decreases risk of injury
- Improve energy levels
- Enables flexibility (greater range of motion)
- Promotes blood circulation
- Improve athletic performance
- Reduced soreness
So you may be looking at this list and thinking, why don’t I stretch there are so many benefits?
Don’t feel bad, there will be others in the same boat including myself up until a few months ago, remember it’s not too late to add flexibility training to your workouts and reap the rewards.
How Can Being Flexible Help With Bodyweight Skills?
Great question, being flexible allows a greater range of motion meaning that your body can get into the positions like the back lever with ease rather than muscling into position.
When skills training you don’t want to be putting your body under an undue stress, if you have tight shoulders, for example, you will find that you may feel an uncomfortable pulling sensation across the front of your shoulders when performing certain skills like the back lever.
This pulling sensation will be greatly reduced if you have open shoulders as you will have the required flexibility and your body isn’t muscling its way into position.
What Bodyweight Exercises Will Benefit From Greater Flexibility?
All bodyweight exercises will benefit from being flexible but the more advanced you become in your body weight/calisthenics training the more important this becomes.
One of the most well-known bodyweight exercises is the squat, if you have poor flexibility you won’t be able to perform this exercises correctly meaning you won’t get the full benefits of your hard work and potentially injure yourself.
The handstand is another bodyweight exercise that a lot of people don’t have the required shoulder flexibility to perform correctly.
A common indicator for this is a handstand that looks like a “Banana”, the reason for the banana form is a lack of shoulder flexibility meaning the individual is unable to stack the body and create proper alignment.
Some of the more advanced exercises like straddle planche, back lever, hollow body handstand all require a greater range of flexibility.
Let’s take the straddle planche as an example, if you have poor hip flexor flexibility you will struggle to open your hips to achieve a wide straddle.
The wider the straddle the wider your centre of gravity is spread out making the exercise easier and less about holding the position with brute strength alone.
What Are The Main Types Of Flexibility Training?
Static Passive Stretching
Static passive stretching is a form of flexibility training where you hold a stretch using only your own body weight with the support of your limbs or apparatus such as a chair can also be used, a training partner can also be used.
The most common example of a passive stretch is the splits.
What Are The Benefits To Passive Stretching?
Passive stretching is considered as a very safe type of stretching to increase suppleness, it does not involve abrupt movements and is highly unlikely to make someone exceed their muscles’ limitations, lessening the chances of an injury.
Safety can be further increased if the external force applied is not the individual’s own limbs but a qualified instructor/PT, various mechanical devices are available that provide a controlled amount of force allowing the individual to safely increase his / her range of motion.
Dynamic stretching is a form of flexibility training where you stretch while moving and gradually increases your range and speed of these movements. Dynamic stretching is different from static passive stretching as static passive flexibility requires you to hold a stretched position for a period of time without movement.
Dynamic flexibility is a sequence of smooth repetitions that start off slow and short that can increase in speed and length until the full range of motion for that movement is achieved.
What Are The Benefits To Dynamic Stretching?
Dynamic stretching is ideal for warming up as it can mimic movements used in the sport or activity ensuring an effective warm up.
Increased power, endurance, balance and coordination are just a few of the main benefits you will get when adding dynamic stretching to your workout routine.
Isometric Or PNF Stretching
Isometric stretching is one of the most popular forms of stretching and is similar to passive stretching.
The main difference is that instead of using relaxation to reach the maximum range of movement, instead, you use some form of resistance for a short period of time to tire out the muscle.
Once you relax after the short period of resistance this gives you a short window of time to gain a deeper stretch until the stretch reflex reasserts itself.
What Are The Benefits To Isometric/PNF Stretching?
PNF stretching is proven to improve active and passive range of motion. It can be used in addition to static stretching and has been shown to help athletes improve performance and allow faster progression in regards to their range of movement.
PNF will increase flexibility, it can also help improve muscular strength.
What Are The Main Areas That Lack Flexibility?
Tight or painful hip flexors? try these exercises.
Flexibility is an essential part of bodyweight training and should be included in your daily routine if it isn’t already, adding flexibility into your daily routine and making sure that you warm up and cool down each time you exercise will make a huge difference to your performance and general well being.
It’s important to always warm up before any type of stretching routine is performed, never stretch cold.