It turns out that you don’t really have to dedicate time to static stretching after your workout to remain flexible
Show of hands—who here still does a static stretching routine (ideally after your strength training)? If you’re actively training by running, swimming, and/or cycling, you’re probably still doing it regularly. But if you’re anything like me, you may be skipping it altogether to get home from the gym.
Conventional science has long held that static stretching is good to increase or maintain flexibility and a joint range of motion, especially as you get older. However, it’s also true that dedicating time to it, especially after a tough workout, is tedious. Most people warm up with dynamic stretching (as suggested by most experts) but some may be skipping the recommended post-workout static stretching session.
For those who’ve been skipping it because it’s added gym time, here’s a bit of good news—you may not need to do it after all. Trainer and fitness thought leader Jeff Cavaliere of AthleanX now believes that you don’t have to spend time doing static stretching after your workout in order to maintain your flexibility and range of motion.
In a recent video (which you can watch above), Cavaliere cites a new study published last year that found that strength training (a.k.a. lifts) is just as good as a static stretching routine in providing the same benefits.
To make the most of this new information, Cavaliere suggests incorporating a light stretching set in most of the lifts and movements you may already be doing in the gym. In these sets, which are mostly done with a machine (though some are done with a free weight), you take a lighter weight than you’re normally lifting and stretch the muscle by fully extending at the negative or the end point of the movement.
To make the most of this new information, Jeff Cavaliere suggests incorporating a light stretching set in most of the lifts and movements you may already be doing in the gym
Let’s take a lat pulldown, which Cavaliere uses as his first example. He loads the machine up with a weight lighter than his working weight, but not all the way light—he says the weight must still be heavy enough to produce tension in the muscle. He pulls down as normal, and then slowly works through the negative motion of letting the cable go up, finally stretching his shoulders by holding the outstretched arms position for a few seconds once the cable and bar get back to the top.
Cavaliere has a lot more other examples in the video for many different body parts, from the chest all the way down to the glutes and legs. The best thing about these is that you can basically adapt any lift or movement to have a stretching set; just apply the same philosophy of lifting lighter weights and holding the negative for a few beats. Then you can work them in as the last set, making sure you hit your essential stretches while staying in the zone.