3 Exercises That Will Seriously Improve Your Flexibility

Fit woman performing weight lifting deadlift exercise with dumbbell at gym

Do you struggle with your flexibility, or want to improve your joint mobility? Well you don’t have to spend hours stretching or doing yoga to move better. Also, let’s just take this moment to reiterate that yoga is not all about flexibility by any means. But we digress. As far as flexibility goes, you can actually improve your flexibility and mobility through movement and weightlifting, which, let’s be honest, can help save you time and (if you dread stretching) boredom. To get you started, here are the top three workouts to improve flexibility and joint mobility, helping you move easier and help prevent injury.

1. Bulgarian Split Squat

How to Perform:

Begin in a split stance with your rear leg resting up on a bench with the top of your foot flat on the bench. Your knee of the leg that’s on the bench should be fully extended. From this modified lunge position, squat down and lower yourself so that the knee of your rear leg comes as close to the ground as you can. Then, press up through your front leg back to a standing position. Perform on each side.

Why This Improves Your Flexibility:

The Bulgarian split squat is one of the best exercises to perform, as it improves your lower body strength from your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Additionally, this exercise dynamically stretches the hip flexor of your rear leg as you lower yourself toward the ground. And in a world dominated by sitting at a desk or on the couch, our hips become extremely tight. As you lower your body during this exercise, you’re not only strengthening your front leg, but your rear leg stretches and lengthens as you lower, which helps to release tension and tightness in your hips. This will not only improve flexibility in your quads, but it will even help lower back pain.

2. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

How to Perform:

Hold two dumbbells in your hands with your palms facing toward you in front of your body. While standing up straight with your knees slightly bent, push your hips back and lower the dumbbells so that they glide along your legs. Continue pushing your hips backward right until your lower back is about to round. Once you hit that point, lift your chest and raise yourself up to a standing position, keeping your knees only slightly bent.

Why This Improves Your Flexibility:

Because this movement is basically a weighted hamstring stretch/toe touch, there’s no question as to why this move wouldn’t help your flexibility. But there are more benefits to this move than flexibility improvements alone. This movement will build lots of strength in your hamstrings because when you’re raising yourself back up to a standing position, you’re using lots of strength in your hamstrings and lower back, and while on the way down, you’re getting a great dynamic stretch throughout the back body.

3. Dumbbell Chest Fly

How to Perform:

On a bench with a slight incline, hold two dumbbells with straight arms so that they are up over your chest. From here, put a slight bend in your elbows, and lower the dumbbells by bringing your arms out as wide as you can go, creating a big stretch across your chest. Continue lowering the dumbbells so that your arms reach parallel to the ground. Then, slowly reverse the motion to bring the dumbbells overhead back to the starting position.

Why This Improves Your Flexibility: 

Like the Romanian deadlift, when you lower the dumbbells with your arms wide, your chest and shoulders are being dynamically stretched from the weight pulling your arms down to the ground. Then, as you return the dumbbells to the starting position, you’re building strength as you contract your muscles to return the weights to the starting position.

About Ben Ilaria

Ben is a personal trainer and recent graduate of Fordham University. He loves everything health and fitness. You can check out Ben’s fitness and lifestyle blog, Mind Matter Fitness, where he offers advice, motivation, and workout plans for free.