Does Bodybuilding Make People Slower or Less Flexible?

Bodybuilding won’t negatively affect your speed or flexibility provided it’s well-designed.* In fact, a bodybuilding program will probably help. Here are a few benefits that a good bodybuilding program will leave you with:

  • It will cause your muscles to grow bigger and stronger… and longer (study), improving mobility and flexibility.
  • Your posture will improve, as your muscles become strong enough to hold you in proper alignment.
  • Speed and power is a muscular strength thing, not a muscular endurance thing. To the extent that you become stronger, you’ll also become faster. (Bodybuilding is not the best way to become stronger, but it will still make you stronger.)

However bodybuilding isn’t the best way to develop speed and mobility.

If speed and mobility are important to you, I’d recommend going above and beyond bodybuilding. You’ll still want to do some bodybuilding, since it’s great for developing muscle size and strength, but you’ll also want to work in some foundational strength and power training principles.

You’ll thus want to build a program out of deep heavy squats and deadlifts, which are excellent for sprint speed, vert, agility, balance on stable surfaces, and lower body mobility. You’ll also want to include heavy bench presses and pull-ups, which will do the same thing for your upper body.**

If you wanted to go really advanced, you’d also want to include a power development phase, where you incorporate plyometrics and ballistics, like jump squats and box jumps and such. And some metabolic conditioning so that you aren’t just fast, but also able to do a bunch of successive sprints without winding up wheezing on the floor after 5 minutes.***

*Provided that volume is properly balanced across all muscle groups, a large range of motion is used, and a wide variety of exercises are used for each muscle group.
**This is what we do, and it’s also the best way to build up muscle size/strength in the longer term.
***We don’t include specific athletic training like this, since it doesn’t result in more muscle size or strength. Besides, most of the athletes doing our program generally already do this stuff as part of their sports-specific training. What they want from us is more muscle mass and more muscle strength.

Category: 3. Exercise & Weightlifting Questions

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