Ask The Ripped Dude: Should I Stretch Before My Workouts?
I've gotten into the habit of walking into the gym and beginning my workout without warming up. Should I stretch or warm up? What's the best practice?
For a lot of people, going to the gym and hopping on the treadmill or grabbing some dumbbells is the easy part. But, taking 10 or 15 minutes to make sure the body is properly prepared for the work ahead is often another story.
Warming up is essential to a good workout—it is the cornerstone to staying limber and flexible! 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 exercise and performance. Cold muscles are more susceptible to injury.
"OK, Obi. I'll just do some standing quad stretches before my front squats. Happy?" Actually, no. Recent research indicates that static stretching does little to increase flexibility or prevent injuries. A better choice is to begin your workouts with some dynamic stretching.
Dynamic stretches are active. So, instead of sitting down and then pulling or pushing your legs and arms, you're constantly moving. The active motion helps your body maintain a higher core body temperature. Also, science has shown that dynamic stretching is better at preparing the body for a workload than static stretching. It's also better for gaining flexibility and achieving full range of motion.
To do a dynamic stretching routine, choose 3-4 of the movements below. Do them circuit style, or do a few sets of each movement. It's also beneficial to jog for 5-7 minutes before you begin a dynamic stretching routine.
No More Static Stretches?
Research suggests that static stretches are a great way to cool down after a training session. And, if you need to release a muscle that's not a primary mover, sometimes a static stretch is the only thing that works. Don't stretch a primary mover while working it out—stretching your pecs between sets of bench press is not a good practice.
In general, dynamic stretching before you train and static stretching after you train is a great way to warm up and cool down. By taking the time to warm up and stretch before any workout, you'll minimize the chance of injury.
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Excelent article. Usefull information. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO PREVENT INJURIES!! I could use another shoulder stretching excersise and one for my elbows.
Once again, take care of your body. Stretch before and after. Injuries suck!
lol for about a year i never stretched before a workout, i was told it would be pre exhuating my muscles so i was told but others say you wont be able to reach peak contraction without stretching. This article was helpful. Thankyou sir for the info!
I've read that sometimes stretching beforehand loosens the muscle fibers and reduces contractibility making you lift less, but that's just what I've read take it with a grain of salt.
seems to me that these exercises of yours only dynamically stretches the legs and its surroundings, what about the lats, pecs and shoulders?
I always do a light static stretching after 5-10 mins jogging, and then do a longer more thorough static stretching afterwards. works good for me =)
i am always looking for new ways to stretch. my trainer really emphasizes stretching and i am glad she does - noticing huge progress due to stretching 10-15 mins after the workout (depending on what muscles i am working out i will stretch a little before). but now i am glad i read this article! All the best everyone!
Great article, but a lot of these movements are leg based. What if I wanted to stretch my arms, or back to get the blood flowing, and loosening the body groups prior to my workout? Would I just do arm circles, and kettle ball swings?
I can actually feel a difference in my muscles and the fatigue that sets on when i don't stretch before working out. I can't do as many reps in each set, and i seem to feel tired quicker. Thank you for the great stretching advice.
Hmm. I will definately take this with a grain of salt. In my experience, if I did not stretch my hammies before doing squats, they feel like they are going to get pulled during and after squatting. Instead of just doing static stretching beforehand, I will warmup on an elliptical or treadmill about 10-15 minutes then do some light stretches before squatting. This has always helped my performance, i.e. allowed me to go deeper.