Beginners Guide to Warm Up & Cool-Down Stretches

You feel fully motivated and invigorated, ready to try pound the streets or pump some iron. Enthusiasm can sometimes take over and people often forget essential pre and post exercise stretching. Some neglect stretching, believing it is not important and associating it with more typically feminine workouts such as yoga and pilates. Big mistake.

Stretching is vital for a healthy body and provides a range of benefits:

  • Improves flexibility
  • Increases blood flow to muscles, reducing chance of industry
  • Helps to develop a correct posture
  • Reduces the chance of tearing a muscle
  • Helps to release tension

Pre-workout stretching should be performed after a warm up has been completed and before the workout. Post-workout stretching should be completed after a workout session has been completed. Recent studies have suggested that dynamic stretches are the best way of preventing injury prior to exercise. Dynamic stretches involve active motion, which helps your body to keep a higher temperature, enabling the muscles to keep looser. Below we look at some dynamic stretches to help you on your way:

Arm Circles

This exercise primarily stretches the shoulder muscles. Standing with your arms straight out to the side at a 90 degree angle to your body, start making circles with your arms. Repeat by reversing the direction which your arms go.

Air Squat

This version of the squat does not use any weights and is an excellent stretch. It primarily works the quads, but also helps to stretch out the glutes and hamstrings. Keeping a neutral spin position, stand with feet shoulder width apart, flex knees forward and hips back, dropping the glutes as close to the floor as possible. Return to starting standing position and repeat.

Kettlebell-less Swing

This dynamic stretch is performed with the same movement sequence as the kettlebell swing, just without the weights. With legs slightly wider than shoulder width apart, bend forward dropping hands in between legs before swinging up so you are stood up straight and hands are above head. This exercise stretches the legs, lower back, shoulders and core.

Bent Over Row & Fly

A great stretch for the back. Bending over with feet shoulder width apart and a neutral spine, pull arms up from a hanging position so that they are next to the side of your upper torso. Drop hands and this time retract them outwards in a reverse fly motion.

Pull-down With Raised Knees

Works several muscles, stretching them nicely. Stand shoulder width apart and put hands up straight above head. Pull hands down in a pull up motion, and bring alternative knees up on each repetition. Helps stretch out legs, abs, back and shoulders.

These five dynamic movements will help to ensure that the tendons and muscles are fully stretched in the right way, preventing injury, maximising recovery and improving posture. Why not hire a personal trainer to show you how to stretch and workout properly?