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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

Stop Doing the Traditional Warm-Up, You Need Dynamic Stretching Instead

Stop Doing the Traditional Warm-Up, You Need Dynamic Stretching Instead

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.

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    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

      via POPSUGAR

      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.

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      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

        via Womanista

        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

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          via Greatist

          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

            via Runwell.com

            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.

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            6. Jump squats

              via POPSUGAR

              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

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              Erica Wagner

              Erica is a passionate writer who shares inspiring ideas and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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              Last Updated on February 22, 2021

              A Simple Muscle Building Workout Routine to Increase Strength

              A Simple Muscle Building Workout Routine to Increase Strength

              Building muscle is, of course, great for helping you look better and feel better about your appearance. But, beyond that, it can help you stabilize your joints, experience less daily aches and pains, and be more active overall.  This article explores all aspects of a good muscle building workout that will help you in your endeavors and will get you into a routine that works for you.

              What’s Included in a Muscle Building Workout?

              Generally speaking, any muscle building workout program should consider both high repetition training for hypertrophy and low repetition for strength training.

              Hypertrophy is an increase in size of skeletal muscle through a growth in size of its component cells. Two factors contribute to hypertrophy:

              • Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy[1], which focuses more on increased muscle glycogen storage
              • Myofibrillar hypertrophy[2], which focuses more on increased myofibril size

              For strength training, it generally means the strengthening of the C.N.S. (Central Nervous System), which occurs while working out in a lower rep range with a higher amount of weight—increased physical exertion by way of maximum force production.

              Our goal is to build larger muscles but to support them with a foundation of strength. You can achieve this by implementing a simple workout routine, which I’ll describe below, or a more complex training program.

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              Getting Started

              Developing muscle heavily revolves around pumping blood and oxygen into the muscles. In fact, that’s where the popular term “getting a pump” is derived from.

              Red blood cells carry hemoglobin, which oxygen bonds with as the hemoglobin rich blood cells move through the lungs’ blood vessels. The now oxygen-rich blood cells carry that oxygen to the cells that are demanding it—the skeletal muscle cells.

              If you are a beginner to a muscle building workout, then it’s actually very effective to apply a Whole-Body Split routine, whereby you are literally working out all muscle groups each day for at least 3-5 days per week. This approach is effective for newbies because you have not developed any muscular hypertrophy, and your body will respond quite well to full body routines before you hit a plateau.

              An effective muscle building workout routine should include at least 3 days of training per week, and ideally 4 or more days.

              A Simple Muscle Building Workout Routine

              Below is an outline for the basic structure of a 3-day per week bodybuilding/muscle building workout plan. This is merely to give an example of a training “split,” which I recommend for optimal muscle development and planned recovery time.

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              Feel free to adjust the days on which your workout lands; as long as you are hitting a four day a week minimum and giving adequate time for rest periods for each body part, you’ll see results!

              If you feel like you need to build up your cardio a bit before tackling a muscle building workout, check out Lifehack’s Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

              Monday (Push/Pull – Chest & Back)

              Warm-up
              • 15-minutes of cardio (walking, jogging, jumping rope, etc.), increasing the pace every 5 minutes
              Weight Training / Resistance Training (30-45 minutes)
              • Push-ups
              • Weighted or normal pull-ups
              • Bench press
              • Dumbbell press
              • Bent over rows
              • Cable machine chest fly
              • Lat pull-downs
              Cool-Down
              • 10-minutes of cardio (walking or slow jog)

              Tuesday

              • Rest

              Wednesday (Lower Body – Quads, Hamstrings, Calves)

              Warm-up
              • 15-minutes of cardio (walking, jogging, jumping rope, etc.), increasing the pace every 5 minutes
              Weight Training / Resistance Training (30-45 minutes)
              • Squats
              • Deadlifts
              • Leg press
              • Calf raises
              • Sled pushing
              • Plyometrics, such as box jumps
              • Lat pull-downs
              Cool-Down
              • 10-minutes of cardio (walking or slow jog)

              Thursday

              • Rest

              Friday (Upper Body – Arms, Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps)

              Warm-up
              • 15-minutes of cardio (walking, jogging, jumping rope, etc.), increasing the pace every 5 minutes
              Weight Training / Resistance Training (20-30 minutes)
              • Shoulder raises
              • Bicep curls
              • Tricep extensions
              • Overhead pressing, including Arnold shoulder press
              Cool-Down
              • 10-minutes of cardio (walking or slow jog)

              Saturday / Sunday

              Active Recovery Cardio
              • Walking
              • Biking
              • Hiking
              • Jogging

              Stress, Sleep, and Building Muscle

              One of the biggest deterrents from building muscle is stress in the body. No matter which muscle building workout you jump into, if your life is filled with stress, you’ll find building muscle to be quite challenging.

              Stress can completely diminish your efforts of building muscle by way of causing adrenal fatigue, which is a taxing of the adrenal glands, forcing them to overproduce or under-produce cortisol, the stress hormone, at the wrong times.

              Stress will also impair your ability to get a good night’s sleep, which is when you are building the most muscle[3], specifically during the 5th stage of the sleep cycle—REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Deep Sleep.

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              Effective methods to reduce stress include being in nature, meditation, regular exercise, and the dietary removal of simple sugars and carbs, which can increase inflammation, cause joint discomfort, and generally make you feel lethargic.

              The Importance of Diet in a Muscle Building Workout

              If you are not consuming adequate macro nutrients (protein, carbs, fats) and micronutrients (essential vitamins and minerals), any effort you make towards building muscle will be mostly wasted.

              A Quality, High-Protein Diet

              To effectively build muscle, you absolutely must support any muscle building routines with a quality, high-protein diet. If you think drinking protein shakes is enough, let me explain that synthetic protein holds no comparison to that of high-quality, food-based protein

              The branched chain amino acid complex from a steak or chicken breast far surpasses that of any protein powder. The only time you should consider protein supplements is if they are to support an already established, well-rounded diet. Those powders should be compounded from hemp, pea protein, or even grasshopper protein, all of which I suggest above any whey/isolate proteins.

              Minerals and Supplements

              Along with structured dieting during a muscle building workout, you must consume lots of water to reap the benefits of your training efforts, and I also suggest supplements such as Creatine Monohydrate and unflavored BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acid), which are the essential amino acids valine, isoleucine, and leucine.

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              Utilizing BCAA powder will help stimulate muscle protein synthesis, the metabolic process that takes place when your body creates new muscle protein. BCAA will also help reduce the rate of protein breakdown by reducing activity in the protein breakdown pathway, and decreasing the expression of complexes involved in protein breakdown (reducing the amount of mRNA).[4]

              The Bottom Line

              Building muscle requires dedication and commitment, and there are simply no shortcuts. The above muscle building workout will help anyone get started, and keep in mind that this can be adjusted to fit into the days when you have time to squeeze in a workout. Use it as a base, and tweak it to fit your goals and lifestyle.

              More on Building Muscle

              Featured photo credit: Jonathan Borba via unsplash.com

              Reference

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