Is Stretching Truly An Important Weight Training Method For Preventing Muscle Injuries?

By: Francesco A. Castano

Stretching has long been promoted as the most effective muscle injury prevention mechanism available, and thus is used by many bodybuilders prior to weight training workouts to reduce the risk of muscle strains and tears. Much time is spent performing various types of stretches depending upon which muscle group is focused upon, and there is no argument that increasing flexibility can allow for increased range of motion during weight lifting exercises, and also can reduce the likelihood of various muscle injuries.

Yet, despite the advantages of stretching, for the bodybuilder who is hoisting heavy poundage during weight training workout sessions, there is a far more effective injury prevention technique that can be performed in connection with, or even in replacement of stretching, and is neglected by far too many weight lifters. Warm up sets are, by far, the most powerful weight training workout injury prevention method, as they prepare a muscle for upcoming stress, and when implemented properly within a weight training workout plan, they can prevent the pain and discomfort that often surfaces in muscles and joints.

We all know that fully depressing the gas pedal on a car shortly after starting the engine can cause great damage, as the oil has yet to circulate through the various chambers of the engine, and operating a vehicle at full power when engine temperature has yet to rise will greatly boost the opportunity for wear, tear and potential engine failure, and although we all apply this wisdom to our car by way of an engine warm up period, many weight lifters neglect to use the same logic on their own body, which responds nearly identical to a car in such circumstances, except instead of allowing oil to circulate through the engine compartments and forcing engine temperature to systematically rise, we are attempting to increase blood flow into the muscles so that they are prepared to handle heavy weights during an intense weight training session. By doing so, the muscles, like a car engine, are in essence lubricated, preparing them for intense stress that follows, but when warm up sets are neglected, the muscles are performing at maximum capacity from a cold state, and can easily experience injuries ranging in severity from minor muscle strains to major tears.

Many bodybuilders may fear that performing warm ups will negatively impact the actual weight used during a workout set, but this is not only false, but shocking to many, the opposite is true, meaning that by integrating warms ups properly, the muscle are capable of lifting greater amounts of weight during a workout set than if they were attempting to perform the weight lifting exercise without any warm ups, which makes this technique much more attractive to those who wish to maximize muscle building results. But even if warm ups were not to offer this significant benefit, the injury prevention advantage itself is extremely important to any weight lifter who wishes to achieve long term muscle gain, as other than improper weight training workout and bodybuilding diet techniques creating disappointing progress, the next likely reason why most weight lifters never achieve desired muscle building results is due to numerous injuries derailing consistency, and one reason why this occurs is that far too many weight lifters neglect proper warm up sets for every weight training exercise.

A friend of mine decided to perform some weight lifting exercises in my basement, and he expressed interest in testing his strength on the squat, so I urged him to warm up prior to doing so, but he rejected my advice, and shortly thereafter, he suffered an agonizing lower back injury. As he and so many have proven, warm ups are one of the most important yet often neglected keys to maximum muscle building, but make sure not to use warm up weights that are excessive, otherwise you will reduce the effectiveness of your actual weight training workout sets, but you must also avoid selecting weights that are too light, as this will not properly prepare a muscle for the workout stress that is to follow. The correct balance has you using a weight for warm ups that does not result in any fatigue, but which properly stimulates blood flow to the muscle groups you wish to train, and also make sure to always engage in warm ups for each weight lifting exercise, as there is no available total body warm up technique that substitutes for performing each specific workout exercise with lighter weight. Warm ups should not extend your weight training session length by a significant margin since such sets do not compel you to rest for longer than is necessary to modify weight on the barbell.

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Francesco Castano owns, an online fitness superstore selling fitness equipment at guaranteed lowest prices.

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