Most trainers recommend that you spend sufficient time stretching and warming up before you attempt any intense exercise. This is good advice. Even more important is to never, never overdo it. Be patient. You do not achieve flexibility by force; you only injure yourself when you try to force it, and this slows your progress.
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Do your stretching by relaxing, not forcing your body.
Recall the relaxation exercise you did in Exercise 5, and practice relaxing your muscles until you relax into the position you desire. This is what is taught in Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga takes the approach that you can discipline your mind by learning to control your body.
You can also use physical discipline to help you develop mental discipline, as well as use your mind to help you to loosen up your muscles. Over time, your flexibility will increase – no matter what your age.
Contrary to what some people believe, large muscles do not keep you from having great flexibility. Just look at what super heavyweight Olympic lifters can do: hold 300 pounds overhead while in a deep (lower-than-thighs-parallel) squat, with their buttocks only inches from the floor, their upper body leaning forward and the weight held well behind their head. That’s real flexibility in the ankles, knees, hips and shoulders.
And think of how Olympic lifters hold a heavy “clean”: 400 pounds on their shoulders with their wrists bent well back and their elbows so flexible that their hands are actually positioned outside of -and down past – their shoulders!
Looking at these lifters, with their massive legs, arms, chests and shoulders, provides ample evidence that having large muscle mass does not inhibit great flexibility.
You can develop great flexibility, too. Just remember to concentrate on your muscles and allow them to relax into position.
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