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Last Updated on February 25, 2021

15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

Stretching is one of those aspects of fitness that many people conveniently forget about. Perhaps you’re one of those who consider stretching nothing but a mere chore meant for ballerinas and gymnasts. While they are great for both, static stretches can offer a boost to any workout routine for people of all fitness levels.

Irrespective of your reasons for working out, be it for sports or personal fitness, one thing is certain: stretching can help you. Static stretches come with myriads of benefits, such as improvement in flexibility and reduction in muscle tightness, which ultimately allow you to go through your workout routines with greater efficiency.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll zero in on several great static stretches and take a look at the benefits and when they should be done.

Benefits of Static Stretches

Static stretches come with tons of benefits that can help you make the most of your workout routine. Some of them include:

Improved Flexibility

If you want to perform better, flexibility is of tremendous importance, irrespective of the specific workouts you do. Luckily enough, static stretches are all you need to get all the flexibility you desire.

Flexibility, also known as the range of motion (ROM) around a joint, has been shown by several studies to be improved by static stretching.[1] And although the specific mechanism through which this occurs is still unclear, static stretches have been shown to greatly increase muscle and joint flexibility[2] and tissue length[3], which work in tandem to make your workout more effective.

Prevent Injuries

If you’re looking to push yourself to your training limits without coming down with injuries, then stretching will do you a great service. Research has shown time and again that performing the right stretches  pre- and post-workout greatly helps with injury prevention.[4]

Think of it this way:

When you stretch, you literally push your joints and muscle fibers to their limit. This increases the stretch tolerance in these muscles and joints over time, and the increased tolerance allows you to perform more rigorous exercises without negatively impacting your body or risking an injury.

Increased Blood Flow to the Joints

Another benefit of stretching is increased blood flow – and by extension, nutrient supply – to the joints and muscles of the target areas. This, in turn, improves the performance of these muscles and joints due to the availability of more nutrients, improved oxygenation, and removal of metabolites.

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For static stretching though, the mechanism of action isn’t as straightforward. When stretching statically, blood flow (capillary oxygenation) temporarily reduces due to vascular compression.

However, immediately after releasing the stretch, the blood flow to these areas nearly doubles the pre-stretching levels.[5]

Improvement in Recovery

If you’ve been working out for some time, then you’ve probably discovered that a rigorous workout session can leave you battling sore muscles for days.

Recovery essentially means getting rid of this soreness and returning your muscle fibers back to their tip-top condition.

Research has shown that practicing static stretches after your workout session helps to reduce muscle soreness. And while some may argue that this effect is minimal, the fact still remains that stretching does help shorten your recovery time.

Stretching allows tissues to be better hydrated after the induced tension is released, and this encourages reduced inflammation and faster repair of such tissues.

Other reasons why you really should incorporate stretching into your workout include:

  • Improved relaxation
  • Increased movement efficiency
  • Reduction in the risk of lower back pain
  • Reduction in muscular tension
  • Improvement in neuromuscular coordination
  • Improvement in balance and postural awareness
  • Provision of relief from cramping

15 Static Stretches to Enhance Your Workouts

Here are some amazing exercises that will keep your body in tip-top condition and take your workout routine to the next level.

1. Neck Stretch

    • While sitting tall or standing, place your right arm gently on the right side of your head and place the other arm out to your side.
    • Slowly pull your head towards your right shoulder until you can feel the stretch on the left side of your neck.
    • Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.
    • Repeat for the opposite side.

    2. Chest Stretch

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      • Stand upright, with your fingers interlocked behind your back, near your buttocks.
      • While keeping your shoulder blades together and your back straight, push your arms up behind you until you feel the stretch in your chest.
      • Hold for about 20-30 seconds before releasing.

      3. Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch

      Shoulder Cross-Arm Stretch « CASS FITNESS

         

        • Stand upright or sit up tall on a chair or mat.
        • Extend one arm to your front to shoulder height.
        • Grab the extended arm with your other arm and pull it towards your chest while keeping the extended arm straight.
        • Continue the pull until you feel the stretch in your shoulder.
        • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat for the other arm.

        4. Triceps Static Stretch

          • Lift your arms overhead, with both arms slightly behind your head and bent at the elbow.
          • Use your right hand to pull your left elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps.
          • Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the other arm.

          5. Biceps Stretch

          Arm Exercises | Seated Bent-Knee Biceps Stretch

             

            • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
            • With your fingers pointing away from your body, place your two palms flat on the floor behind you.
            • While your hands are steadily in place, slowly slide your butt downward toward your feet until you can feel the stretch in your biceps, shoulders, and chest.
            • Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.

            6. Wrist Stretch

              • While standing straight or sitting tall, extend your right arm forward to shoulder height with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling.
              • Grab your right fingers with your left hand, and pull your right hand to bend the wrist until you can feel the stretch.
              • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite arm.

              7. Side Stretch

                • Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart.
                • Take your right arm and reach over your head towards your left side while bending your side.
                • Keep bending your side slowly until you can feel a stretch on your right side.
                • Maintain this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                8. Abdominal Static Stretch

                  • Lie down on your stomach with your face towards the ground and your palms facing the floor as though you’re about to do a push up.
                  • While keeping your pelvis firmly on the floor, gently push your upper body up from the ground. This should make your feel some stretch in your abs.
                  • Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                  9. Reclined Spinal Twist

                  Supta Matsyendrasana - Supine Spinal Twist - Yogaasan

                     

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                    • Lie down, with your arms extended to the sides and placed on the floor.
                    • While keeping the right leg extended, pull up your left knee towards your chest, tilt it toward your right side, and then drop it slowly over your extended right leg.
                    • Keep your shoulder blades flat on the ground, and you should feel the stretch around your back.
                    • Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                    10. Knees to Chest

                    Knee-to-chest exercise from Physical Therapists' Advice to Manage Pain at Home - The Active Times

                       

                      • Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, with your knees bent.
                      • Hold your shins and pull up your knees toward your chest.
                      • This should make you feel some stretch in your lower back.
                      • Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                      11. Hip Flexor Static Stretch

                      How to Do the Standing Lunge Stretch

                         

                        • Stand right in a standard lunge position.
                        • Place your two hands on your hips.
                        • Step out on your right foot into mini-lunge position, without your knee going beyond your right toe.
                        • Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left side.

                        12. Figure 4 Stretch

                        How to Do a Figure 4 Stretch | Openfit

                           

                          • Sit tall on the ground with both knees bent and both feet on the floor.
                          • Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh, while your left knee remains bent.
                          • Pull both legs inwards toward your abdomen for a deep stretch of your glutes.
                          • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

                          13. Standing Quad Stretch

                            • Stand tall while maintaining a straight posture.
                            • With your left hand, grab a pole, wall, or anything durable for balance.
                            • With your right hand, grab your right foot and pull up your heels until they touch your buttocks.
                            • Keep your knees close together while doing this, push your hip forward, and you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps.
                            • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the other side.

                            14. Hamstring Stretch

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                              • Sit on the floor with your right leg extended straight in front of you and your left leg bent.
                              • Reach forward with your right hand and touch your right toes. This should cause a stretch in your right hamstring.
                              • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg.
                              • If you’re unable to reach your toes, try holding your shin instead, but seek to go further every time you perform the stretch until you can touch your toes.

                              15. Calf Stretch

                                • Sit on the ground and extend your right foot straight in front of you.
                                • Gently pull your right toes backwards with your right hand. This should cause a noticeable stretch in your calf.
                                • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg.
                                • If you’re unable to reach your toes, use a rope or towel to pull your toes inward.

                                Bonus: Stretch With a Resistance Band

                                Resistance bands offer a unique benefit from free weights and create tension throughout your movement. Get the free 30 Day Resistance Band Full Workout Challenge, and challenge yourself to stretch with a resistance band.

                                When Should You Do Static Stretches?

                                Static stretching is great when done correctly and at the right time. Over the years, research has shown that static stretching produces best results when done after working out or on rest days,[6] but not as a part of warm up routines before an explosive workout session.

                                This is because static stretches have a “cool-down” effect on the muscles and are more effective when done after the muscles are already warm.

                                That doesn’t mean you must never ever perform static stretches before working out. Just do it sparingly. Dynamic stretches, which involve more movement, are generally recommended for warming up as it helps the body to prepare better for the work ahead.

                                The Bottom Line

                                Carving out the body of your dreams isn’t only about lifting weights and running; you need to keep your body “elastic” if you’re going to make the most of your training. And that’s the whole point of static stretches.

                                Starting today, be sure to incorporate these static stretching exercises into your routine, and in no time, you’ll find yourself recovering faster and performing better than ever before.

                                More Tips on Stretching

                                Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

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                                Richard Adefioye

                                Richard has a unique passion for healthy living and productivity.

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                                Last Updated on March 2, 2021

                                15 Bodybuilding Tips for Beginners for More Effective Workouts

                                15 Bodybuilding Tips for Beginners for More Effective Workouts

                                If you are new to bodybuilding and want to improve the way you look, bodybuilding tips can help you get started the right way. Bodybuilding is a great way to strengthen, tone, and stabilize your entire body, but it’s easy to make mistakes that can cause injuries that keep you out of the game for months. If you really want to dedicate yourself to building muscle mass over time, be patient, start with some bodybuilding basics, and move forward from there.

                                Here are 15 of the best bodybuilding tips for beginners.

                                1. Stick to Free Weights

                                Even though the modern gyms are full of complex, high-tech machines, they will not help you build a solid foundation of muscle mass. Dumbbells and barbells are the best when it comes to building muscle, especially for a beginner.

                                Free weights offer a wide range of motion and rely on proper form, which ultimately helps to build more muscle than the restricting machines often found in a gym.

                                2. Do Compound Lifts and Movements

                                While you might be tempted to try all the possible exercises you see on fitness magazines or websites with heavy weights, you should stick to the basic movements first as one of your first bodybuilding tips.

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                                Exercises like the squat, the deadlift, the barbell bench press and the military shoulder press should not be lacking from your routine[1]. These are popular for a reason. They’ve been designed to tackle major muscle groups that will help you build on your routine from the ground up.

                                3. Find a Program, and Stick to It

                                In order to be successful with bodybuilding, you need to have a strict routine and follow it closely. Ask a personal trainer or an advanced bodybuilder to provide you with a program that includes the exact exercises you need to do, the number of sets, and the number of reps per set.

                                When you set foot in the gym, you need to know exactly what you will do in that training session in order to create a weekly routine that will lead to more muscle mass. By knowing what you’re doing on a specific day and knowing what came in the days before, you can avoid injury and overuse.

                                4. Don’t Train Every Day

                                If the person that made you the program knows what s/he’s doing, your routine should have 3 or 4 workouts per week. As a beginner, you don’t need to train more often than that. Doing so can lead to muscle strain, which can eventually cause debilitating injuries, so paying attention to this bodybuilding tip is essential.

                                Each time you do a bodybuilding routine, remembering that you are literally tearing your muscle fibers. If you do this 7 times a week without allowing them to recover, you can cause permanent damage. Allow at least one day between each workout to keep your muscles healthy.

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                                5. Train Each Muscle Group Every Week

                                While too many days in the gym won’t help you get bigger, too few workouts are not good either. You need to work each muscle group at least once each week to really see effects. You should also be increasing the weight you’re lifting every week or every other week in order to continuously challenge your body to keep building more muscle.

                                6. Learn Correct Form

                                While you may be tempted to see how much you can lift, you need to start with lower weights and learn the right form of each exercise. If you’re going to a gym, they often have trainers who will show you the correct form for various exercises. If you need more guidance, consider hiring a personal trainer for one or two weeks to get you started.

                                Once you have the correct form, you’ll be able to continue pushing yourself without going too far using the other bodybuilding tips for beginners.

                                7. Gradually Increase the Weight

                                After you master the correct form of each exercise, you need to start adding heavier weights periodically. Keep track of how much you lift on each exercise, and slightly increase the weight about every two weeks. This will increase your strength and will lead to muscle gains.

                                If you stay at one weight too long, your body will get comfortable and won’t build more muscle, so it’s important to keep offering your body challenges.

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                                8. Be Cautious

                                When you get to the point of using big weights, use a safety belt for lower back protection. You may not have back problems right now, but you don’t want to have them in the future either. When it comes to bodybuilding tips, this is one many overlook until it’s too late.

                                9. Eat a Lot of Protein

                                Protein is essential when it comes to building muscle. It can be found in good quantities in chicken, fish, eggs, milk, beans, nuts, and some vegetables. Most experts recommend at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight for the best results. If consuming enough protein each day becomes difficult, add a protein shake as well.

                                10. Be in a Caloric Surplus

                                This is one of those bodybuilding tips that most people don’t understand at first. In order to build muscle, you need to eat more calories than you burn[2]. Use a calorie calculator to find out your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), and adjust that according to how active you are. If you have a sedentary job, you will need fewer calories, and if you are very active you will need more.

                                Make sure to avoid eating too few calories as this will mean your body may start burning the muscle you’re building for energy. Losing fat requires a caloric deficit, but building muscle requires the opposite.

                                11. Eat More Often

                                If you’re bodybuilding as a beginner, it’s a good idea to eat more often. Try eating 4-5 times each day, and don’t go more than 3-4 hours without a meal. As your body builds muscle, it will want a consistent source of fuel, which comes from food.

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                                12. Avoid Junk Food

                                It’s true that you want to gain some weight, but you want that weight to be muscle mass and not fat! For this bodybuilding tip, consume quality food like lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats, and stay away from junk food, sweets, and fatty foods[3].

                                The only time when you should consume fast-absorbing carbohydrates (usually foods that have a lot of sugar or white flour) is right after your workout.

                                13. Eat Fruits and Vegetables

                                Besides macronutrients (proteins, carbs, and fats) your body also needs micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). These come mostly in the form of fruits and vegetables, so make sure you’re getting enough each day, both pre- and post-workout.

                                14. Rest and Recover

                                One of the most essential bodybuilding tips for beginners is to allow your body time to recover. Your muscles don’t grow when you work out but during rest periods, especially when you’re sleeping. 8-9 hours a night is optimal. If you have trouble falling asleep, try settling into a night time routine that can get your sleep schedule on track.

                                15. Act Like an Athlete

                                If you want to dedicate yourself to bodybuilding, get into the mindset of an athlete. Building a stronger, healthier body means doing so both in and out of the gym. When you’re not working out, avoid smoking, alcohol, and other unhealthy vices as much as possible. This will help you create an overall healthier lifestyle to match your efforts in the gym.

                                The Bottom Line

                                The above bodybuilding tips are a great place to start if you’re trying to get into bodybuilding. These kinds of workouts can be amazing for your muscle mass, as well as joint stability and cardio health. Start slow and safe in order to build up to a beneficial routine that will help you enjoy bodybuilding for many years to come.

                                More Bodybuilding Tips for Beginners

                                Featured photo credit: Anastase Maragos via unsplash.com

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