When your mind is focused on your workout goals, it’s easy to forget to stretch. You have your workout plan in your head, you’re listening to the latest head bangin’ dubstep remix, and sometimes you’re too in the zone. Remember though, stretching after your warmup and cooldown is essential for getting the most out of your workout! Stretching can help with better posture; it can increase your blood flow and circulation, help extend your range of motion while lifting, and keep your muscles from aching too much the next day.
Make sure you warm up before stretching- never stretch a cold muscle! When weight training, don’t stretch the muscle you are in the middle of training. However, DO stretch the antagonistic muscle to the one you are training during your workout- for example if you just did leg presses, stretch your hamstrings.
Here are some awesome stretches to help you have the best weight training session ever- and recover well afterwards!
Dynamic stretching involves moving parts of your body, and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both. It is great for helping your muscles get into their full range of motion. Do not confuse dynamic stretches with ballistic stretches- bouncy movements where you try to force a part of the body beyond its range of motion.
Perform these stretches in 8-20 repetitions. Once you attain a maximal range of motion, do not force it past that range.
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From a standing position and your arms loosely hanging at your sides, flex, extend, and rotate each of the following joints:
- Trunk and shoulder blades
- Feet and toes
• Flexion/Extension – Tuck your chin into your chest, and then lift your chin upward as far as possible. 6 to 10 repetitions
• Lateral Flexion – lower your left ear toward your left shoulder and then your right ear to your right shoulder. 6 to 10 repetitions
• Rotation – Turn your chin laterally toward your left shoulder and then rotate it toward your right shoulder. 6 to 10 repetitions
• Stand tall, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent
• Raise your right shoulder towards your right ear, bring it backwards, down then up again to the ear in a smooth action
• Repeat with the other shoulder
• Stand tall, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent
• Keep the back straight at all times
• Overhead/Down and back – Swing both arms continuously to an overhead position and then forward, down, and backwards. 6 to 10 repetitions
• Side/Front Crossover – Swing both arms out to your sides and then cross them in front of your chest. 6 to 10 repetitions
• Stand tall with good posture, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, hands resting on hips
• Lift your trunk up and away from your hips and bend smoothly first to one side, then the other, avoiding the tendency to lean either forwards or backwards
• Repeat the whole sequence sixteen times with a slow rhythm, breathing out as you bend to the side, and in as you return to the centre
Hip Circles and Twists:
• Circles – With your hands on your hips and feet spread wider than your shoulders, make circles with your hips in a clockwise direction for 10 to 12 repetitions. Then repeat in a counter clockwise direction
• Twists – Extend your arms out to your sides, and twist your torso and hips to the left, shifting your weight on to the left foot. Then twist your torso to the right while shifting your weight to the right foot. 10 to 12 reps on each side
• Stand tall with good posture holding your hands out in front of you for balance
• Now bend at the knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor
• Keep your back long throughout the movement, and look straight ahead
• Make sure that your knees always point in the same direction as your toes
• Once at your lowest point, fully straighten your legs to return to your starting position
• Repeat the exercise sixteen times with a smooth, controlled rhythm
• Breath in as you descend, and out as you rise
• Flexion/Extension – Stand sideways onto the wall
• Weight on your left leg and your right hand on the wall for balance
• Swing your right leg forward and backward
• 10 to 12 repetitions on each leg
• Cross-Body flexion/Abduction – Leaning slightly forward with both hands on a wall and your weight on your left leg, swing your right leg to the left in front of your body, pointing your toes upwards as your foot reaches its furthest point of motion
• Then swing the right leg back to the right as far as comfortable, again pointing your toes up as your foot reaches its final point of movement
• 10 to 12 repetitions on each leg
Static stretching consists of stretching a muscle to its farthest point and then maintaining that position. These stretches are great after you cool down, at the end of your workout. Take 3-5 minutes to do these basic stretches.
• Standing quadriceps stretch (10 seconds) — continue to next stretch
• Lying quadriceps stretch (15 second) — end or continue to next stretch
• Standing hamstring stretch (10 seconds) — continue to next stretch
• Seated forward hamstring stretch (15 seconds) — end or continue to next stretch
• Standing calve stretch (10 seconds) — continue to next stretch
• Wall lats stretch (10 seconds) — continue to next stretch
• Flat pull over in stretched position (15seconds) — end or continue to next stretch
• Two armed doorway chest stretch (10 seconds) — continue to next stretch
• Overhead triceps stretch (10 seconds) — continue to next stretch
• Old school triceps stretch (15 seconds) — end or continue to next stretch
Shoulders (front delt)
• Doorway front deltoid stretch (10 seconds) — continue to next stretch
• Incline front deltoid stretch (15 seconds) — end or continue to next stretch
Shoulders (medial delts)
• Side deltoid stretch cross chest (10 seconds) — continue to next stretch
• Behind the back side deltoid stretch (15 seconds) — end or continue to next stretch
• Wrist curl in stretched position (10 seconds) — end or continue to next stretch
Remember to know your limits while you’re stretching. Some pain is normal, but if the pain is ongoing, make sure you’re not overstretching. Use these stretching suggestions to make your muscles work their best during your workout!