Research Spotlight: Does strength training improve flexibility?

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Recent research has shown that both stretching and strength training are equally effective at improving range of motion.

Have you ever heard the adage that lifting weights makes you bulky, inflexible and “muscle-bound”?

While this idea was never founded on any scientific research, it was commonly accepted that the only way to improve flexibility was through stretching.

However, a recently published meta-analysis has compared the effects of strength training and stretching on changes to active and static range of movement. 

Researchers examined the outcomes of eleven studies involving 452 male and female participants with varied levels of protocol duration and training history.

Study Findings:
The results of the meta-analysis showed that “Overall, ST (strength training) and stretching were not statistically different in ROM (range of motion) improvements, both in short-term interventions, and in longer-term protocols”. 

Overall, lifting weights is not going to make you muscle-bound. In fact, strength training is just as effective in improving flexibility as stretching.


Afonso J, Ramirez-Campillo R, Moscão J, Rocha T, Zacca R, Martins A, Milheiro AA, Ferreira J, Sarmento H, Clemente FM. Strength Training versus Stretching for Improving Range of Motion: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Healthcare (Basel). 2021 Apr 7;9(4):427. doi: 10.3390/healthcare9040427. PMID: 33917036; PMCID: PMC8067745.