Let’s get one thing straight, stretching is essential to a good workout and/or in general to be able to workout freely and injury free — it is the cornerstone to staying limber and flexible irrespective of age or gender. For a lot of regulars at the gym, hopping on a treadmill for five minutes and lifting dumbbells is the easy part, but, taking 10-15 minutes to make sure your muscles are warmed up is another story.
Warm-ups prime your nervous system; prepare your muscles; increase the delivery of blood, oxygen and nutrients to your muscles; and ready your mind for a tough workout and optimal performance. There are two types of stretches: Static and Dynamic.
Static stretching is the more traditional form of stretching that most of us already know and use. These are basic stretches like, bending over and touching your toes for the hamstrings and lower back. But, recent research indicates that static stretching does little to increase flexibility or prevent injury. A better choice is to begin your workouts with some dynamic stretching.
Dynamic stretches are active. Instead of holding a stretch for a number of seconds, dynamics are constant movement. The active motion helps your body maintain a higher core body temperature. It’s also better for gaining flexibility and achieving a full range of motion.
Choose 3-4 of the movements below. Do them circuit style, or do a few sets of each movement.
1. Arm Circles: Shoulder concentrated, also works your traps.
2. Front Leg Raises: Works your hamstrings
3. Walking Lunges: Concentrates on Quadriceps, also works calves, glutes and hamstrings
4. Butt Kicks: Plyometric stretch. Works quads, abductors, adductor, calves and glutes.
5. Hip Circles: Concentrates on Abductors
6. Air Squats: As squats, it primarily works your quadriceps and also glutes and hamstrings.
7. Kettlebell Swings: Primary muscle target is your Hamstring. Also works, lower back, shoulders and glutes.
*PROPER FORM FOR ALL THE ABOVE IS CRUCIAL
According to the conducted research static stretches are a great way to cool down after high intensity training. Mainly to release a muscle that’s not a primary mover in your workout, static stretches do that job for you. So to summarise… Dynamic stretching before you train; Static stretching after you train — really the best way to warm up and cool down.