Are you among the many who claim a hatred for stretching?
I’ll admit, I am not good at adhering to this crucial discipline myself.
I consider it boring and I am always eager to get to the good stuff. The stuff that builds biceps, pecs and abs. I like to dive in and GOOOOO! BUT…..
Stretching offers tremendous benefits from reduced injury potential to improved athleticism.
How? Stretching offers these benefits due to the fact that it increases your range of motion. And, on the subject of bulging biceps, ripped abs and a popping pecs, that increased range of motion adds mass and lengthens your muscles allowing you to generate more force and lift more weight. Of course, the end result of all of that is an increase in muscle. How is that for inspiration?
In late 2009/ early 2010, I hit a brutal plateau in my workouts. I had gone, in the previous few years from scrawny to nearly brawny but I just could not get any further. Brawny still seemed light years away. I struggled for nearly a year trying every mix of routines, any and all techniques; still nothing more was gained. I was at a standstill and killing myself trying to get past this barrier. About the time I was ready to give up, I visited a trainer in Dallas whose insight would transform my workouts and my body. Brawny was possible. Though he did advise that my body type was not readily inclined to the physique I had described, I certainly could move well beyond the present physical condition. The key was stretching. Specifically, I needed to work on scapular retraction and spinal flexion. It seemed mine were on lock down.
For months, every move I performed demanded a focus on scapular retraction or spinal flexion. Every last blooming one. It was “shoulders back, chest out, butt out”, “squeeze those shoulder blades”. He barked those commands at me every single day. I hated it. I hated doing bicep curls and having to flex my spine and squeeze my shoulder blades. Guess what? I began to see muscle growth again. My muscle mass exploded as my range of motion increased.
He was right, I just do not have the natural tendency toward that hulking body builder physique that I coveted and in some ways still do, especially in an all natural, supplement free approach to which I was determined to adhere. Yet, I have gained remarkable muscle mass and am still gaining as I understand the really simple principle of increased range of motion; a principle that has allowed me to be my brawny best.
Having said all of that, I present you with 8 powerful stretching movements that should be a regular feature in your workout regimen.
1. All Fours Quad Stretch
· Start off on your hands and knees, then lift your leg off the floor and hold the foot with your hand.
· Use your hand to hold the foot or ankle, keeping the knee fully flexed, stretching the quadriceps and hip flexors.
· Focus on extending your hips, thrusting them towards the floor. Hold for 10-20 seconds and then switch sides.
2. Chair Lower Back Stretch
· Sit upright on a chair.
· Bend to one side with your arm over your head. You can hold onto the chair with your free hand.
· Hold for 10 seconds, and repeat for your other side.
3. Chest Stretch on Stability Ball
· Get on your hands and knees next to an exercise ball.
· Place your elbows on top of the ball, keeping your arm out to your side. This will be your starting position.
· Lower your torso towards the floor, keeping your elbow on top of the ball. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, and repeat with the other arm.
4. Iron Crosses
· Lie face down on the floor, with your arms extended out to your side, palms pressed to the floor. This will be your starting position.
· To begin, flex one knee and bring that leg across the back of your body, attempting to touch it to the ground near the opposite hand.
· Promptly return the leg to the starting position, and quickly repeat with the other leg. Continue alternating for 10-20 repetitions.
5. One Arm Against Wall
· From a standing position, place a bent arm against a wall or doorway.
· Slowly lean toward your arm until you feel a stretch in your lats.
6. Round the World Shoulder Stretch
· Stand up straight with your legs together, holding a bodybar or broomstick.
· Hold the pole behind your hips with a wider than shoulder width grip. Your palms should be down and your thumbs facing out.
· Slowly lift your arms up behind your head. Don’t force it if it gets hard to lift further.
7. Seated Overhead Stretch
· Sit up straight on an exercise mat.
· Touch the soles of your feet together with your feet six to eight inches in front of your hips.
· Place one hand on the floor beside you and your other hand behind your head.
· Lift your elbow to the ceiling as you incline your torso to the other side. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, then switch sides.
8. Kneeling Forearm Stretch
· Start by kneeling on a mat with your palms flat and your fingers pointing back toward your knees.
· Slowly lean back keeping your palms flat on the floor until you feel a stretch in your wrists and forearms. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
Add these 8 stretches for full body range of motion and watch your results soar!
And remember, if you are facing a plateau you cannot break, or any other frustrating element in your fitness journey, Elements of Wellness is here to help! Just send us a message and let us know what challenge you face and together we will break through!
Your success is our goal!