You throw on your bodybuilding clothes. You leave the locker room. You’re ready to give it your all and maybe even set a new PR if it feels right. Stop right there: You’re forgetting one crucial step—stretching! This small but necessary step in your routine can help you warm up and even reduce your injury risk. For hardcore bodybuilders, this is essential. Here are some reasons you should stretch before lifting and a few to include in your warmup routine.
Benefits of Stretching
Stretching before a training session is essential. It should be the first thing you do after throwing on your bodybuilding clothes. Stretching can increase your flexibility, range of motion, and blood flow, which can all help reduce the risk of injury. Stretching after the workout is crucial too, as it might be able to kick start the recovery process.
The Right Stretches to Do After Throwing on Your Bodybuilding Clothes
An easy way to remember when to stretch is when you change into and just before changing out of your bodybuilding clothes. Different types of stretching are better for different times in your workout.
Static stretches, where you hold a position for several seconds, are best done after a workout since your muscles are warm and relaxed. Dynamic stretches, moving through a range of motion while relaxing your muscles and joints, are best before a workout. This warms up your muscles and steadily raises your heart rate. With all of this in mind, here are a few of the best stretches for bodybuilders.
One of the most common stretches for the chest and shoulders is the pectoral stretch. Doing a pectoral stretch before your workout helps loosen your pecs, helping to prep your body for heavy benches presses, chest flies, and other movements. You can do a lying stretch on the ground or use a doorway. Interlock your fingers behind your head and draw your elbows toward the center of your body. Keep your elbows straight to open up your shoulders and pecs.
Neck Stretch Rotation
A neck stretch routine can help prevent headaches, relieve tension in your shoulders, and improve your posture. All you need to do is tilt your head to the side as far as you comfortably can without moving your shoulders. Before tilting the other way, rotate your neck and shoulders and then tilt your head in the other direction.
Happy Baby Stretch
If you are looking to relieve back pain, try the happy baby pose. It can also help relieve tension in your hips and shoulders. Get on your back with your knees bent. Lift your legs so your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Your feet should be parallel to the ceiling. Hold each foot with both hands and point your toes to the ceiling. Push your knees out as far as possible from each other. Keep your feet together and your heels off the ground. Then slowly lower your knees towards the floor, about 1 foot apart. Relax your shoulders, keeping your head and neck on the ground. Hold this position for 5 to 10 breaths and then release. This is a good way to help open up your hips before heavy squats.
Improve your mobility and flexibility in your legs and lower back with a hamstring stretch. Stand straight with one leg behind you and slightly bent. Keep your hands on the hip of the bent leg. Lean forward gently until you can feel the stretch. Hold for 15 seconds and then switch legs. Make sure to keep your back straight throughout the entire process.
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