Description of Flexibility in a Fitness Plan

Monday, December 09, 2013
Fitness Flexibility

© - Fitness Flexibility

Fitness training such as cardiovascular and strength exercises put stress on the muscles, bones and joints of our bodies.

The need for flexibility training

Fitness training such as cardiovascular and strength exercises put stress on the muscles, bones and joints of our bodies. This stress can create differences in our body's planes of movement. A flexibility training program can help to correct the imbalances and in turn, prevent injury. The goal of a flexibility plan is to keep the soft tissues of the body moving at ease.

Benefits of Flexibility Training

Flexibility training has many benefits that include: • Correcting muscle imbalances • Increasing joint range of motion • Relieving joint stress • Promoting relaxation of muscles • Maintaining the normal functional length of all muscles • Helping to achieve optimum neuromuscular efficiency and body awareness

Types of Flexibility Training

There are three main types of flexibility training that should be included in your fitness plan: dynamic stretching, static active stretching and static passive stretching. Each type of flexibility training has its own purpose and appropriate time to be used. It is best to mix all three into your program to be certain you are consistently improving your range of motion.

Dynamic Flexibility

Dynamic stretching is the ability to move a dynamic or whole movement through its full range of motion. We commonly refer to this as muscle rehearsal because you are doing a low impact version of the movement. Examples of this would be unloaded squats, arm swings and circles and twisting from side to side. This type of flexibility training is usually done during a fitness warm-up. The goal of dynamic stretching is to increase blood and oxygen flow to the muscles and prepare them to be used for a specific activity.

Static Active Flexibility

Static active flexibility is the ability to stretch one muscle using the resistance of another. Muscles work in pairs where one is the agonist and the other is the antagonist. The agonist muscle or the prime mover performs the movement while the antagonist muscle exerts a force or relaxes during the movement. An example of this is the biceps as the agonist during a hammer curl, and the triceps muscle relaxes. During static active stretching, the agonist muscle will stretch using only the resistance of the antagonist muscle.

Static Passive Flexibility

Static passive stretching, like static active, stretches the muscles through agonistic and antagonistic balance. The difference between the two is that during static passive stretching, an external force is added. For example, instead of relying specifically on the muscles for support, you would add a piece of equipment for a more intense, deeper movement. Some ways to perform this type of flexibility training would be to place your foot against a wall during a gastrocnemius and soleus stretch or putting your hand on a wall to stretch the muscles of the chest.


It is important to remember that flexibility is just as important as the cardiovascular and strength-training components of your fitness plan. Increasing range of motion and preventing injury will keep your body fit and healthy.

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