by: Yuri Elkaim

When it comes to working out, so much emphasis is placed on exertion. Whether you’re running and jumping or lifting weights and doing bodyweight exercises, so much interest is focused on pushing yourself. Mind you, these are all absolutely essential forms of exercise that I’m a big advocate of, but there’s something else that occupies space in my arsenal: flexibility training.

Flexibility training comes in many forms, one of the most popular being yoga. This ancient practice seems to become more popular by the day for many different reasons: some use it for everything from increased flexibility to mental and physical relaxation, or as a core-strengthening method of exercise to a means through which spiritual clarity is attained.

For me, yoga is all of these things, but it’s also a powerful form of workout recovery that I rely on.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the many different reasons why flexibility training methods like yoga are practices you should seriously consider working into your life. 

The Argument for Yoga

There are so many benefits to yoga. Here are a few:

  • It lowers blood pressure and pulse rate
  • Improves circulation
  • Improves function of internal organs
  • Reduce and relieves chronic pain
  • Detoxifies your body
  • Slows the aging process
  • Increases your energy, strength and stamina
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Decreases stress, anxiety and depression
  • Elevates mood

What I especially love about yoga is the fact that you can do it on your own, thus reducing the cost of expensive classes or specialists. It really is a do-it-yourself mechanism towards healthy living.

That said, I do recommend taking some classes at first, so that you can learn proper form and technique.

As I wrote about in my most recent book The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet, regular movement is so important to staying healthy, and yoga is a great way to forge a new, much-needed relationship with your body.

Why Flexibility Training Matters

Here’s one of the main reasons yoga has become a part of my weekly routine: as a surefire way to get my flexibility training in, I ensure that I’m preserving my body by keeping it limber and allowing for healthy growth.

It’s pretty clear that I’m a big fan of lifting weights to increase both your muscle and metabolism, but I realize that lifting can increase tightness in your muscles. It also can result in soreness between workouts.

Yoga helps you work through that tension and discomfort without incurring a pricey massage bill.

In so doing, yoga also helps you prevent injury during your workouts by making your body more fluid and adaptable to new movement.

How to Begin a Flexibility Training Program

In case you’re wondering how often you should do flexibility training, there are some pretty clear guidelines: according to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should engage in a flexibility program that involves all the major muscle groups of the body for at least 10 minutes two to three times a week. 

You have at least half an hour to spare each week to rejuvenate your body, don’t you?

The truth is, your flexibility training program doesn’t have to be yoga. You could start taking pilates classes or you could even learn some basic stretches that you perform first thing you get up in the morning. It’s really that simple.

I guarantee you that once you start doing flexibility exercises of some sort, you’re going to be come addicted in the best way possible. They’ll loosen you up and make you more flexible in all aspects of your life. Give flexibility training a try!

Flexibility Training FAQ

How is flexibility training used to improve performance?

There are many different ways to better your flexibility for improved performance, the most important of which—I believe—is to simply keep your body mobile throughout the day.
 
Yes, yoga and regular stretching can help, but the best way to prevent getting stiff and sore is to simply keep moving.
 
If you’re sitting, get up every 20 minutes and move around. Have a stretch. Do some lunges. You get the point.
 
Aside from that, be sure to start all of your workouts with a good dynamic warm-up. Also make sure you incorporate soft tissue work—like foam rolling—into your routine on a daily basis as well.

Why is flexibility training important?

Flexibility is an important component of being fit. After all, you can be as strong as you like but if you’re as stiff as board, your quality of life will suffer.
 
Flexibility training helps make everyday activities a little bit easier. Over time, we become more sedentary and poor posture habits develop that can lead to reduced mobility of joints and compromised physical performance. Thus, staying active and using flexibility training—like yoga or dynamic stretching—regularly helps prevent this loss of mobility.
 
Here are some added benefits of improving your flexibility:
  • Improves your posture by balancing the tension across opposing muscles. Better posture minimizes stress and maximizes the strength of all movements
  • Reduces the risk of injury during exercise and daily activities because muscles are more pliable
  • Improves performance of everyday activities as well as performance in exercise and sport
  • Reduces stress in the exercising muscles and releases tension developed during the workout.

Who uses flexibility training?

Anyone who knows anything about how to train properly will be training their flexibility on a regular basis.
 
Novak Djokovic, the #1 tennis player in the world at the time of this writing, is famous for his extensive use of flexibility training. His flexibility and suppleness are common talking points during and after his matches and they give him a big upper hand over his opponents.