Artist: concious design

Active Stretching - Combining Strength and Flexibility

by John Harris Fitness

If you aspire to be flexible, incorporating regular stretching exercises into your workout routine is essential. Engaging in a robust muscle-building program without stretching can lead to muscle imbalances, reduced range of motion, and even discomfort. Stretching and muscle building are often considered two distinct principles.

Why Compromise When You Can Have Both?

But why choose one over the other when you can achieve both? The concept of active stretching is straightforward. Each muscle has an antagonist – when one is contracted, the other is stretched/relaxed, and vice versa. This interplay is crucial for movement. Active stretching harnesses this principle by integrating muscle training with flexibility exercises.

Advantages of Active Stretching

  • One notable advantage of active stretching compared to passive stretching is the improved blood circulation during the exercise.
  • Utilizing the strength of the opposing muscle to stretch a muscle significantly reduces the risk of injury. This method is also beneficial for rehabilitation purposes.
  • Dynamic stretching can be cautiously incorporated even during warm-up routines as it warms up the muscles.
  • Active stretching involves reaching the maximum range of motion through active movement, integrating the stretch position into motion sequences. This prevents the stretch position from becoming an underused extreme position and transforms it into a usable stance, enhancing practical movement patterns.
Artist: Koh Sze Kiat

How Does Active Stretching Work?

The muscle you wish to stretch is positioned in a neutral starting position and then extended to its maximum stretch. At this point, you can intensify the stretch using your hands or other aids, only to the extent that you can maintain active muscle tension. Hold the position briefly and then release.

It's crucial to train both sides of your body evenly with multiple repetitions (around 10-15). Often, one side is more flexible than the other. However, don't let the success of your stronger side lead you to neglect the weaker one. Our bodies function best when balanced, and the same applies to your stretching routine.

When Should I Perform These Exercises?

In the fitness club, you can incorporate these exercises into your free-weight training sessions or use them as part of your cool-down routine. Active stretching also allows you to begin your training session with it, but remember to be cautious until your muscles are properly warmed up. If you're new to these exercises, consider joining our stretching classes or seeking guidance from our on-site trainers.

For Advanced Practitioners

To intensify the stretch, try alternately contracting and relaxing the muscle in its maximum stretched position. This induces a relaxation reflex that positively affects your stretching progress.

Artist: South_agency

Understanding the Stretch Reflex

The stretch reflex is a protective mechanism of your muscles. It minimizes the risk of injury but can impede your stretching success. When you stretch too quickly or intensely, the muscle reflexively contracts to prevent muscle fiber tearing. To counter this reflex, actively contract the antagonist muscle, thereby inducing relaxation in the stretched muscle. This can be done, for instance, with resistance.

Another method is to strongly contract and then relax the stretched muscle for a few seconds, utilizing the relaxation reflex to progress further. However, these methods are not recommended for beginners. You should have a good understanding of what you're doing. While outsmarting the stretch reflex can lead to faster results, it also increases the risk of injury.

Incorporate regular stretching into your workout routine. Particularly as you age, your range of motion tends to diminish. Counteract this by integrating stretching into every workout session. To find the right intensity for your fitness level, seek guidance from a trainer.

Filter locations:

Nibelungengasse 5 | 1010 Wien


Strobachgasse 7-9 | 1050 Wien


Donau-City-Straße 7 | 1220 Wien

DC Tower

Wiedner Gürtel 9 | 1100 Wien


Marxergasse 17 | 1030 Wien


Untere Donaustraße 21 | 1020 Wien


Opernring 13-15 | 1010 Wien

Executive Club

Getreidemarkt 8 | 1010 Wien

Medical Center

Untere Donaulände 21-25 | 4020 Linz

Donaupark Linz

Mozartstraße 7-11 | 4020 Linz

Atrium Linz

Girardigasse 1c | 8010 Graz

Thalia Graz