The most important part of your workout begins with the warm-up. It gets your mind, body, and muscles ready to tackle the workout. When we were younger we learned in gym class the importance of stretching before activities, but maybe it isn’t intense enough. What if there were another way to stretch your muscles that targets the muscles you’re about to work out? I’m talking about dynamic stretching which is a more effective and systematic warm-up exercise. Keep reading to learn new techniques to intensify your warm-ups.
What Exactly Is Dynamic Stretching?
I’m glad you asked! In short, it’s “stretching as you are moving”. Some examples would be: high kicks, jump squats, jump lunges, and knee-to-chest. The type of stretching you’re probably used to doing is called static stretching. It requires little movement, such as reaching down to touch your toes.
How Is It Different from Traditional Warm-Up?
Simply put, it’s more effective than traditional stretching. When you’re engaging in static stretching you are loosening up your muscles, but it doesn’t necessarily get them ready for what you’re about to perform. It’s more laid back which can trick your mind into relaxation mode. This can make for a difficult transition from a period of rest mode to work mode. Dynamic stretching helps improve the range of motion around your joints, reducing the risk of injury during your workout. Over time your performance will improve as well as maximizing your movements due to increased flexibility of your joints.
How Can I Benefit from Dynamic Stretching?
What’s so great about it? I’ve already listed some differences above, but check out what I’m about to tell you below. You’ll be glad you did.
- It’s a full body warm-up. It warms up your body even faster than a low-level aerobic activity such as a walk or run on the treadmill. It builds up intensity before the actual event and prepares the body for peak performance. When you engage in a dynamic warmup, it helps your body prepare itself for the demands you’re about to put it through.
- It improves kinesthetic awareness. It prepares the body for all the different movements you’ll be doing. Dynamic stretching mimics the exercises you’ll perform during a workout to help your body prepare for those movements. Kinesthetic awareness is being able to understand where your body is in time and space. To give you an example, try touching the tips of your fingers together. Having this awareness is very important when working out or playing a sport.
- You’ll be way more flexible! Flexibility is the range of motion in a joint. Dynamic stretching improves the range of motion of the joints which will help you to perform better and could reduce the risk of an injury.
6 Simple Dynamic Stretching You Can Try to Reap the Benefits
1. Lunge with a twist
via The Exercist on Tumblr
1. Stand with feet about shoulder width apart.
2. Step forward with your left foot into a lunge position.
3. From your torso, twist your upper body to the left. Then, reach across your left side with your arms outstretched. (Think of pointing to the left from your belly button.)
4. Maintain a slow, controlled movement throughout the exercise.
5. Slowly move your arms to center and step forward with the opposite foot and twist to the other side.
2. Side lunge touching heel
1. Begin with the knees and hips slightly bent, feet hip-width apart, and the head and chest up.
2. Staying low, take a slow, lateral step to the right. Keep your toes pointed forward and stay low. Extend the left knee, driving your weight to the right, flexing the knee and hip into a side lunge.
3. As you lower yourself, reach across with your left hand to touch your right heel or ankle. Maintain good posture through the entire spine, keeping your head and chest up.
4. Pause at the bottom of the motion, and then extend through the working leg to return to a standing position, transitioning into a lunge to the opposite side.
3. Arm circles
1. Stand up and extend your arms straight out to the sides. The arms should be parallel to the floor and perpendicular (90-degree angle) to your torso. This will be your starting position.
2. Slowly start to make circles of about 1 foot in diameter with each outstretched arm. Breathe normally as you perform the movement.
3. Continue the circular motion of the outstretched arms for about ten seconds. Then reverse the movement, going the opposite direction.
4. Hip stretch with a twist
1. Start in the push-up position with your back flat and hands and toes squarely on the ground.
2. Bring one knee forward so that your foot is flat on the ground just behind the plane of your hands.
5. High kicks
1. Reach your right arm straight out in front of you, parallel with the ground. Your hand should be flat with your palm facing the ground.
2. Step forward to put your weight on your left foot and kick your right foot up towards your hand with your toes flexed. You should work towards touching your toes to your palm.
3. Repeat, alternating legs.
6. Jump squats
1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Start by doing a regular squat, then engage your core and jump up explosively.
3. When you land, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep. Land as quietly as possible which requires control.
4. Do two or three sets of 10 reps.
The warm-up is the most important part of a workout to prepare mentally and physically. Dynamic stretching is an effective way to stretch muscles because it targets the muscles you’re about to work out, making it a more effective and systematic warm-up. Try these new techniques to intensify your warm-ups!
Featured photo credit: Conscious Design via unsplash.com