When it comes to desired physical characteristics, flexibility falls down the priority list, as most guys would much rather have killer abs and ripped arms than be able to touch their toes with ease. However, a lack of focus on flexibility may be hindering results in the gym. Heavy workouts combined with the typical desk posture from the 9-to-5 grind can stifle strength gains and line you up for an injury down the road.
Unfortunately, simply bending over and touching your toes post-workout isn't going to do the trick. It comes down to the right exercises and time. To help you decide where you need some extra work, we've outlined five flexibility tests that examine nearly every part of the body. Go through each test and find out where you fall short. Then, prioritize those areas to help increase your flexibility and ward off potential injury.
Test #1: Lying Straight-Leg Raise
Hang around the gym long enough and you're bound to hear someone complain about tight hamstrings. In reality, the hamstrings might not be tight at all. The lying straight-leg raise is the perfect test to determine if your hamstrings are the culprit, or if they're really masking a deficiency somewhere else.
Directions: Lie on your back with your legs extended and hands by your sides. It's important to keep your knees extended and back flat throughout this assessment. Keeping the heel of one leg in contact with the ground, raise your other leg as high as possible. Hold it for a three-count and note how high your were able to go. Slowly lower and repeat with the same side to verify the results before switching sides.
Results: The goal for this test is to get your hip as close to 90 degrees as possible. This involves getting your leg to perpendicular with the ground. Those that fall in the 70- to 80-degree range need a bit of work. If you're having trouble getting above 40 to 50 degrees, your hamstrings need some serious attention. Those that are blowing past 90 degrees with ease can stop with the toe touches; your hamstrings have plenty of flexibility.