actually warms up at the beginning of their training session
By: John Lemare
Firstly, who actually warms up at the
beginning of their training
session by stretching? I reckon 90% of teenagers who go to the
gym forget that part and go straight into heavy lifting. This is
stupid and can be very dangerous.
The funny thing is that stretching at
the beginning of your routine would not take longer than 5
minutes and who wouldn't jump at the chance to flex all their
muscles if they had the chance?
The first thing to get straight is that stretching in the
warm-up is not the same (and doesn't replace)
warm-up sets. Warm-up sets are important and should be done
after your stretching.
The benefits of stretching include helping to minimize injury
and also helping to reduce internal friction in muscles and
joints. Stretching also improves coordination between muscle
groups that could help you with your techniques on certain
Stretching could also actually enhance muscle growth as
stretching muscles stimulates muscle fibers. So, in a way, you
are not only risking possible injury by not stretching, but you
could also sacrifice some of your growth, too.
Stretching can actually lengthen your muscle and cause muscle
separation to make you look more cut, as you will have more room
to grow. Throughout your workout, you should keep the full range
of motion to maximize your workouts. Stretching also increases
the range of motion to improve your workouts.
Remember: you are at risk of injury if you
stretch when your muscles are cold. This is the reason people do
a few light sets before stretching.
It is very important to warm up by stretching before your
routine and also at the end to cool down. Stretching minimizes
potential injury by warming up the muscles at the beginning. I
read somewhere that our muscles are like giant elastic bands and
when you put an elastic band in a freezer when you take it out
the next day it can easily snap.
There is a possibility that your muscles might be affected in
the same way, by not stretching at the beginning and also
throughout your program. Stretching helps prevent soreness that
regularly occurs after a hard session.
The risk of developing lower back pain that can greatly be
reduced by proper stretching throughout your workout. Between
sets, stretch your muscles to keep blood flowing through your
If you stop working out for around 5 minutes (I see this
often when someone stops to either give or ask for advice to
another member in the gym), you should do your stretching again
and perhaps a few warm up sets as you need to get your blood
Three Types Of Stretches
There are three different types of stretching which you
should try to include at the beginning (which is the most
important) but also at the end (and occasionally between
exercises) to keep your blood flowing through your body. These
Range Of Motion
Range of motion stretching (ROM) is when you move the large
muscles rhythmically in gentle, repetitive motions within
their normal range of motion. This is the type of stretching
you should start off with to start warming up and relax the
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Faciltation
Proprioceptive neuromuscular faciltation (PNF) is a
stretching exercise specifically for flexibility purposes.
Passive stretching is also good to maintain flexibility.
This is performed by moving the muscles and joints slowly into
a fully-stretched position and hold for ten seconds. This type
of stretching should be done throughout your routine.
These are the three main types of stretching and should all
be included in your workouts.
Stretching should be done for 3-5 seconds then released. You
should do the same stretch again but this time hold it for
around 20 seconds and squeeze a little harder.
If you are not sure of certain stretches, your gym will
probably have a wall chart showing the different exercises - or
ask a few experienced people in your gym (if they actually
stretch before going straight into heavy lifting).
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is to get the most out of your workouts, stretch!
Saying that, do not overdo it with the
stretching, as you still want to keep your energy levels up for
your main workout.
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