There is much talk in the fitness world about resistance stretching to not only improve flexibility but to also build muscle. This type of stretching is used by Olympians and other professional athletes.
According to Shape.com, “Resistance stretching uses tension on the muscle while it's in an elongated position, not just when it's being contracted like in typical weight lifting.” This type of stretching allows for much more increased range of motion.
But as many Pilates teachers like myself know, the root of much of resistance training can be found in the works of Joseph Pilates. According to PilatesMethodAlliance.org, “Pilates is a method of exercise and physical movement designed to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body.”
There is a system of exercises done on a mat as well as on specialized equipment. In fact the creator of Pilates, Joseph Pilates, has been noted as saying “you will feel the changes in your body in ten sessions, see the changes in 20 sessions and have a whole new body in 30 sessions.”
Pilates is also perfect for Olympic athletes who need to work on their core strength and flexibility to get an extra edge. Because of the mind-body emphasis it helps them to focus on the total control of the integrated movement.
One of the pieces of equipment developed by Joseph Pilates is the Pilates reformer. I myself am a certified Pilates instructor and spend most of my work with clients, and train myself, primarily using the Pilates reformer.
According to PilatesReformer.org, “The Pilates Reformer is a sliding platform based machine with various levels of resistance springs and ropes.”
“These springs provide variable or measured resistance, from light to heavy, to the muscles while exercising. The springs offer more resistance at the strongest point of muscle contraction and less resistance at the starting and finishing point.”
With this added resistance, the muscles are lengthened like the above-mentioned resistance stretching through the accompaniment of the ropes and springs. The lengthening contraction of the ligaments is less stressful on the body then traditional weight training.