Do you warm up and stretch before your exercise routine? Or do you prefer to stretch after your exercise routine as part of your cool down?
Most of the guys I know that love to lift weights do not take enough time to stretch, they just warm up and cool down to avoid injuries and don´t consider stretching to be that important but it has some benefits that can improve their performance on the gym and increase their results.
Since we´re living very fast paced times and our daily lives keep us living with chronic stress we all need to find ways to reduce stress to have good quality sleep every night and to be able to deal with stressful situations the best way possible. Stretching is a great tool for this, we spend most of our day sitting and stressed out, if we take some time to stretch and breath through the exercises before going to bed it will help us reduce tensions from our body and muscles and this reduce stress, if we reduce stress before going to bed we also sleep better.
Stretching also helps us increase mobility and improve posture, even when we try to sit straight after long hours in the same position mobility is reduce this why some people recommend that we do some stretching exercises every hour even if you are in your office. If we don´t want to be stretching at the office for any reason we can do 10 to 15 minutes when we get home or right before going to bed.
Stretching also reduces pain in muscles and joints, pain in most cases is caused by bad posture and stress so when we relief the tension from our body by stretching we lower pain which gives us the freedom to move more and do more activities without pain.
For working out stretching also has amazing benefits, first avoiding injuries which is a most, stretching before hitting the weights and if we´re going to work out outside and it´s cold it help us prevent injuries by getting our body and muscles ready for the training session. This also helps to improve performance during our workout by increasing flexibility and mobility.
Another benefit that many people don´t consider is that it improves range of motion. When we are lifting weight, the more damage we do to the muscles the better and with full range of motion we are making more damage to muscle tissue which means more growth. I´ve seen people that don´t do full range of motion and the reason they don´t do it is because they can´t, their range of motion is limited but they don´t want to stretch they prefer 10 to 15 minutes of cardio as a warm up and cool down and even when cardio has a lot of benefits it won´t help you improve flexibility, mobility and range of motion.
What happens when we stretch is that we are lengthening our muscles and connective tissue and this reduces tension. We don´t need to spend 30 minutes stretching and we don´t need to work out to stretch, we can do it in the morning or every night before we go to bed, with 10 minutes you´ll start noticing the difference.
We can add one day to our workout program and focus only on stretching, we can take our rest day and see how our performance in and outside the gym improves. Training is a puzzle and every piece of the puzzle needs to be consider from resistance training, cardio training, recovery and stretching they all work together to help us get in shape, to get the type of physique we want and to help us perform as best as possible in any activity, from the gym, in our home, at work, vacations.
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