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Q: Is it essential to stretch?

7208-train5Q: Is it essential to stretch? I’ve never read of Arnold and the bodybuilders of his era stretching.

A: Essential? No. Recommended? Yes—but only if it’s done safely.

Some people may already be flexible enough before they start bodybuilding, depending on their background and current condition, but others are hampered by inflexibility in at least some of their bodyparts.

Many bodybuilders fail to make the most of two of the most effective muscle-building exercises—the squat and the deadlift—largely because they lack the required flexibility to use correct exercise technique. If, for example, your hamstrings are tight, that will proscribe correct squatting technique because it will lead to premature rounding of your lower back.

A limber body isn’t required just for training. Insufficiently flexible muscles cause problems elsewhere. They are involved in faulty posture and posture deterioration associated with aging. Insufficiently flexible muscles are also involved in other physical problems, such as chronic pain or discomfort in the knees and lower back. A flexible body is required for youthfulness regardless of age.

—Stuart McRobert


Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s first byline in IRON MAN appeared in 1981. He’s the author of the new BRAWN series, Book 1: How to Build Up to 50 Pounds of Muscle the Natural Way, available from Home Gym Warehouse (800) 447-0008 or


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