Weight Training Stretches
How To Stretch Your Muscles Properly
The topic of weight training stretches is not a common one, and most weight lifters overlook the importance of stretching. Stretches are critical in helping you avoid injuries and to aid muscle recovery time.
Without proper stretching, you will restrict your range of motion and making any movements outside your range could end up in injury or annoying aches and pains. Stretching helps to maintain the pliability of your connective tissue and muscles.
Here is a summary of the benefits of stretching before and after your workouts:
- Reduced muscle soreness
- Improved posture
- Less risk of lower back pain
- Increased blood and nutrient flow to tissues and throughout body
- Improved muscle coordination
Before training any muscle group you should always do a light stretch on that particular muscle group. If you are doing a light warmup before your normal sets, as you should be, then make sure to do the warmup before stretching, as you shouldn't stretch when your muscles are cold.
So if I was training my legs for example, my weight lifting routine would go like this. First off I would do a 5 minute warmup on a stationary bike to warm up my muscles. Then I would do some light stretching of my leg muscles for 2-3 minutes. After that I would perform some light warm-up sets of the first exercise of my workout, which for legs would be Squats. After 2 warm-up sets with light weights, I am ready to stack on the heavy weights and perform my normal sets.
Then after finishing my leg workout I will finish off by doing a nice and deep stretch of my legs, which may be a little painful but that's okay. Stretching your muscles straight after a workout while they are still pumped will help to stretch your connective tissue or muscle fascia. This will aid in allowing your muscles to grow larger than they are now. You can think of muscle fascia as like a tight grip around your muscle tissue which restricts muscle growth.
If you stretch after a workout you will stretch your muscle fascia and make it easier for your muscles to grow. This is why some people who were once overweight find it easier to grow muscle, because their connective tissue has already been stretched before to allow for more growth.
Weight training stretches before your workout are important to warm up and loosen your muscles and joints, while stretches after a workout help to recover your muscles quicker and allow for easier growth.
Also, when your stretch muscles you have just trained it will aid in removing the lactic acid buildup in your muscles. It will also supply your muscles with much needed oxygen and nutrients. This will help to alleviate and reduce some of the pain and soreness that comes with heavy weight training.
How To Actually Perform Weight Training Stretches
The technique of actually stretching goes like this. Do your first stretch for about 3-5 seconds, and then release. Then take a deep breathe and do a second stretch for as long as you can tolerate the pain, which is usually around 20 to 30 seconds.
Whilst performing the stretch you should take in deep breaths, and try to relax and focus on going a little deeper until you feel a good stretch. A little bit of pain is fine, just not too much. And remember to never bounce or do any type of forceful stretching.
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