Stretching is a very important part of your workouts. You’re supposed to stretch at the beginning of the workout in order to loosen up your joints, increase your flexibility and mobility, and get the blood flowing to your muscles. A bit of light stretching after your workout will help you cool down, and will add to your mobility and flexibility. Here are a few simple stretches to try as the finisher for any workout:
If you worked out your upper body (chest, back, shoulders, traps, arms, etc.), chances are your shoulder muscles did a lot of the work. The shoulders get a workout pretty much every day that you push, pull, curl, or press, so they need a lot of attention to keep them mobile and flexible. To perform this simple shoulder stretch, extend your arm and bring it straight across the front of your body. Use your other arm to pull it as close to your chest as possible, tugging so you feel the muscles and joints stretching. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds, increasing the angle as you can.
After a long day of doing Military Presses, Deadlifts, Squats, Lunges, or pretty much any other standing exercise, your spine may be feeling a bit tired and worn down. Don’t neglect your spine, but use this amazing stretch to help you loosen up the sore, exhausted muscles. Stand straight with your head up and your shoulders back. Reach into the sky as high as you can, trying to touch the roof with your fingertips. Hold the stretch for up to 15 seconds, release, and repeat twice. This will help to loosen up the tight spinal erector muscles, giving your back a bit of a break.
If you’ve worked out your triceps (usually used during chest, shoulder, and triceps workouts), the backs of your arms will be tight. This simple stretch will help to loosen up the tight arm muscles, making it easier for you to go about your day without being too sore. Reach your right arm over your head, bend your elbow, and try to touch your left collarbone with that right hand. Now grip the right elbow with your left hand, and gently pull into the stretch. Hold for up to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. After an intense triceps workout, this stretch feels amazing!
After a hardcore lower body workout, your quads will probably feel a bit weak. To prevent muscle soreness in your legs (which can seriously cramp your style the next day), do this simple quad stretch. Stand on your left foot, bend your right knee, and bring your right foot up to touch your butt. Grab that foot and pull gently, loosening up the tight quad muscles. Repeat with the other foot, but don’t pull too hard. You don’t want to damage your already exhausted muscles, so make this stretch a gentle one.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Your hamstrings don’t get a lot of work at the gym, but they do tighten up a lot. The fact that you spend much of your day sitting down means that your hamstring muscles don’t do a lot of work, so they shorten from disuse. In order to prevent leg problems and reduce your risk of pulled muscles, make sure to stretch your hamstrings on a regular basis. A simple seated hamstring stretch will work wonders. Sit down, with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Without bending your knees, lean forward as far as you can, and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.