The Best Stretches to Start Your Workout

The Best Stretches to Start Your WorkoutStretching is a great feeling on the joints and muscles.  First off, it allows the muscles to stretch to an optimal level to help maintain or improve performance.  Also, stretching just feels great.  It helps fill blood into the muscles and oftentimes, people will stretch before a run, before lifting weights, or before any workout.

The truth is, stretching before a workout serves one purpose and that is to loosen the joints and warm the muscles prior to exercise.  The type of stretching that should be completed though is gentle dynamic stretches, meaning your body part moves through a range of motion to gradually stretch the muscles.  You see this form of stretching all the time in sprinters right before an event and notably in baseball players when they take practice swings in the on deck circle.

Benefits of pre-workout stretching

Stretching before working workout is great for many athletes and performance competitors.  One great reason that dynamic stretching works well is because a proper stretch will activate the muscles you intend to be using during your program that day.  More importantly, it improves your overall flexibility, increases your power and performance, and it helps your mind stay aware of your body, which helps reduce injuries during your workout.  With that said, stretching before your workout should be something you are doing every day in the gym.  Listed below are five stretches you can do prior to your workout to help improve overall function, flexibility, and performance.  Avoid any bouncing (ballistic) movements unless you are under the direction of a physician or physical therapist.

The Best Stretches to Do Before Your Workout

  1. Lunge and a Twist. You might ask what kind of stretch this is.  The stretch is in the twisting motion, the lunge is to warm the legs for your workout.  The twisting motion will help open the spinal area to have you feeling great before working out.  Perform about 10 reps with each leg for only about one or two sets.  This exercise also feels great early in the morning when you wake up.  The spine gets a good wake-up and the legs will surely help increase blood flow, thus making this exercise better than that cup of coffee.
  2. Straight Leg Kicks. Standing in place and adding a straight leg kick in front of your body with an alternating hand touch on the foot is a sure way to stretch the glutes and hips prior to your workout.  In addition, the motion with the legs, twisting with the spine, and stabilization with the core is a great way to increase blood flow to these areas.  Comfortably complete about 15-20 of these kicks and only aim to complete about one or two sets of these.
  3. Arm Cirles/Swings. If you plan on having a shoulder, chest, or arm day, then arm circles are a great way to add circulation and to stretch these areas.  Start with big circles where your arms almost touch your ears and gradually bring the circles smaller and out to the side of your body.  Start your circles by going forward and then finish them by circling backwards.  Start with only 15-20 circles in each direction and only complete about one set.
  4. High Knees. These are perfect for leg day and before you go for a run or hop on the bike.  Start off with one knee to the chest, grab in front of your knee then lower it down.  Switch legs and alternate after each rep and take it slow during this one.  Complete a total of 20 high knees, so 10 reps with each leg.
  5. Hand Walking. This is great for anyone with an arms day ahead.  This is somewhat like doing push-ups, but with a twist.  Get in a push-up position and take some steps forward using your hands.  This will be a bit like crawling, but you will remain in a push-up position at all times.  This will definitely benefit the arms, shoulders, chest, and if done correctly, will help the core and hamstrings.  Perform about 10 steps forward to have your upper body warmed and ready for action.






About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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