We’ve all seen him before. You know, the guy who takes a good 30-40 minutes doing an obscene amount of warming up before he even lifts a dumbbell and stretches before he leaves. It seems like such a waste of time but is he on to something? Maybe. No, he definitely is. In fact, we’re willing to wager that your progress in the gym is probably moving slower than it could because of lack of warming up and stretching. It may not be as sexy as a new PR on the bench press but stretching and warming up is important. Read our blog to find out why.
Most of us are probably familiar with static stretching which involves elongating the muscle and holding it for approximately 30 seconds. The function of this form of stretching is to release tension and reduce the likelihood of straining any muscles. An age old favourite in the static stretching repertoire is the hamstring stretch which involves reaching for the toes, either from a standing or sitting position and holding this position.
Dynamic stretching on the other hand involves performing a range of moments that usually mirror the movements you will engage in during exercise. The effect of this is to prime the body for action. Examples of dynamic stretching include lunges and even bodyweight squats.
When to use them
Both dynamic and static stretching play an important role but as vital as performing each is ensuring that you do so at the right time. According to a study by Page (2012), to avoid a decrease in strength and performance due to static stretching before competition, activity or resistance training including dynamic stretching is recommended for warm-up.
Conversely, static stretching is best performed at the end of a workout during the ‘cool down’ phase of your workout to release tension. In addition, according to Jim Stoppani, intra workout stretching (between sets) may help to build muscle strength.
- Improved muscle elasticity
- Improved flexibility and range of movement
- Increased focus & mind-muscle connection before working sets begin
- Enhanced blood circulation to muscles
- Improved muscle strength and growth
- Better body posture
Stretching may take time and less glamorous than the rest of your workout. However, if you make sure to engage in the adequate amount of the right type of stretching, at the right time then you will soon reap the rewards, and maximise the potential of your gains in the gym.
Page, P. (2012). Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 7(1), 109–119.
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