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As a guy, you probably head to the gym with the intent to hit the weights as hard as possible. However, flexibility matters as much to your overall fitness level as your ability to bench press 250 pounds. If you want to look like an elite athlete, you need to train like a pro.
Check out the way wrestler-turned-actor John Cena gets his flexibility on after pumping serious iron.
Why John Cena Uses the Splits Machine
Even though many of the performances in professional wrestling are for show, that doesn’t mean the fake stuff doesn’t hurt like the devil. You get hit, kicked and thrown through the air like a ragdoll — and canvas isn’t that forgiving. Let’s not even talk about steel chairs.
For these athletes, maintaining flexibility is vital. Think of your muscles like rubber bands. If you have one that you never stretch, one hearty yank will rip that puppy in two. However, if you work that rubber, keeping it gummy, you can pull on it multiple times without a tear. A stretched muscle can handle a fall into a semi-unnatural position, but a taut one will result in injury.
Cena has advice for people who want to use the splits machine to increase flexibility through their inner thighs. You need to relax and breathe through the discomfort to get the maximum stretch. Challenge yourself to keep your back straight. Gradually ramp up the intensity — but remain aware that, unlike other weight room machines, this device doesn’t have a dial to mark your progress. You’ll know that you’re performing the move correctly when you start cracking jokes about giving birth.
Flexibility Is Vital to Total Fitness
While researchers have found insufficient evidence to support or refute the proposition that stretching prevents injury, athletes know that the activity can improve their performance. Over time, strength training shortens the resting lengths of muscles, which can lead to imbalances. This condition can result in altered joint function and poor posture.
Tight muscles also put undue stress on tendons and ligaments around your joints. You’ll find that your range of motion decreases, and if you try to push beyond it, you could experience painful tearing. These injuries can sideline you for weeks, sometimes even months.
Should you stretch before or after exercise? Research indicates that performing static stretches before your workout can increase your risk of injury. For best results, warm up by doing lighter versions of your intense exercises, such as walking before a run, and cool down with static stretches.
Train Like John Cena to Maximize Your Fitness Potential
If you want to perform like John Cena, you need to train like he does — including flexibility exercises. Save three to four minutes after your next workout to give the splits machine a try.