Do you love weightlifting?
Do you also make it routine to stretch before your weight training session?
If you love weight training, you’re not alone. Whether recreational or professional, it is an incredibly popular and beneficial form of physical activity.
This palaeolithic-old form of exercise can both boost the appearance of your physique and give a boost to your overall physical health. With any type of weightlifting, your form is crucial. In order to improve your form, stretching the right muscles is important. Being flexible can help get you in the right positions.
A lot of lifters don’t know how important stretching is and so it’s often left out.
Care should be taken to do the exercises properly.
Stretch What You’re Working Out
This isn’t the only piece of important information you’ll need to know.
Focus on doing dynamic stretches. These should be performed during or after your work out of a specific group of muscles.
It’s important to avoid static stretches. Performing static stretches before you lift heavy weights can increase your risk of a muscle tear or a muscle strain (which we definitely don’t want). One study even shows that, alarmingly, static stretching before heavy weight lifting inhibits muscular performance during exercises.
With all this taken into account, let’s look at several dynamic stretches you can do before you work out specific muscle groups.
Read on to find great stretches for weight training sessions:
Upper Body Movement
Muscles like your pectorals, shoulders, deltoids, and triceps tend to get thrown into a variety of different weightlifting movements, just because of their proximity to one another.
In particular, your pectoral (chest) muscles need adequate stretching.
Cross Body Arm Stretch
- An active stretch that’s easy to perform – take your arms and swing them across your chest then allow the momentum of the first movement to take them slightly behind your back.
Shoulders also need to be stretched properly before working out and there are a couple ways to do so.
- You can perform the same cross-body stretch we just talked about.
- Another great active stretch for your shoulders is the arm rotation – rotate your arm rapidly at an angle flush with the side of your body and alternate direction and arm.
Your Latissimus Dorsi, located on the lower to mid portion of your back, are two large and powerful muscles that need to be adequately stretched before working them out.
Like the pectorals and the shoulders, your lats are often worked out by many different weightlifting movements.
- An excellent lat/backstretch is the Toe Touch Overhead Reach; stand up straight, bend down and touch your toes, bring your body straight back up, touch your hands to the sky, and repeat.
Lower Body Movement
While it may seem that upper body weight training is more common than lower body movements, it’s important not to neglect the muscles down there, even if you don’t work them out very much.
The hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves are all muscles commonly worked during lower body weight lifting movements and as such, should be adequately stretched before and during an exercise.
- Hip Rotations: In a standing position with one hand on a wall or flat surface in front of you, gently rotate your entire leg outwards from your body.
Repeat with your other leg, or in the opposite direction.
- Butt Kickers: This might not be the ideal gym stretch but you can certainly do them if you find some space!
Simply jog at a light pace so that your heels tap your butt during each stride, stretching your quadriceps.
- Leg Swings: Legs Swings are performed by swinging your leg across or beside your hip while keeping your leg straight.
You might need something to hold onto for support. If done properly, these stretches will target your groin, hip, and hamstring muscles.
Get The Most Out of Weight Training
Keeping flexible means that it’s easier to activate muscles. Muscles that are easily activated can perform better, which means you can get better results.
Skip the static stretches before you lift. Focus on dynamic stretches that target the muscle groups you plan on working out.
When it comes to stretching, a little can go a long way!
If in any doubt, book in with a health care professional so you can discuss the best course of action for you.