Benefits of Stretching in a Weight Training Regimen

In the gym, it can often be observed that many members don't use the resting periods between the sets of their various exercises as efficiently as they should in order to receive maximum benefit from their training efforts. In fact, many simply stay seated on the machine or bench, which they just used, until they feel ready to perform another set of the particular exercise. Of course, doing so their muscles cannot recover as completely and fast as possible, which implies that they are not able to continue with their next set as soon as necessary to ensure best results.

In fact, the practice of loitering on the equipment between sets does not allow for optimum blood circulation and slows down a persons exercise pace; the inactivity between sets may actually cause that person to feel un-energetic and prematurely fatigued; lactic acid, a waste product, which accumulates in muscle cells during exertion and contributes to muscular fatigue, tends to get trapped in tight muscles and impedes further performance.

The means to avoid this is to rather stay continuously active throughout a workout, even during rest periods, which should be used to prepare both physically and mentally for each subsequent set. The best way to do this is to get up, walk around, breathe deeply and stretch the muscles, which have just been worked, immediately on concluding each set. The loosening effect of stretching helps to increase oxygen utilization for improved energy levels; applying stretches to the trained muscles between sets also helps to release lactic acid and other waste products into the bloodstream, which carries them away, while the supply of fresh oxygen and nutrients is facilitated. The resulting faster and more complete recovery contributes to being able to work with higher intensity, which is the key to increased success.

Apart from the above mentioned, stretching between sets of weight exercises has yet many additional benefits. Stretching a muscle, especially in its "pumped" condition, promotes the increase of that particular muscle's size, as it enlarges the strong, tight connective tissue sheath (called fascia), which envelopes it, thus giving it more room to grow. Stretching also improves muscular separation. Furthermore, stretching is also a proven method to overcome sticking points and plateaus in a muscle's development; done consistently, stretching can even increase strength by as much as 15 to 20 percent.

Last but not least, easy stretching and limbering up before any sportive activity is an indispensable means to prepare the body for action and helps to prevent injury. Performed after workouts, progressive stretching serves to increase flexibility, helps to prevent muscle soreness, relieves tension and promotes better recovery.