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Best Stretching Exercises to Improve Flexibility and Strength

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As a fitness enthusiast, you will be well aware of the importance of flexibility and strength. Pushing yourself to start an intense workout session isn’t always easy.

When you hit the gym, all you want is to rush yourself into a workout without performing basic stretching and warm-up exercises.

But, have you ever seen a runner sprinting on his top as he steps on the track? Or a weightlifter performing heavy deadlifts as he starts to work out?

No, because they all know the importance of stretching. If you want to try some stretching exercises to minimize the risk of injuries, then here are some best stretching exercises to improve flexibility and strength.

Why Stretching Exercises are Performed?

Stretching in routine strengthens your muscles and joints. It helps in developing that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints.

If you are into weight training, running, or cardio, stretching is needed to get the blood and oxygen pumping through your muscles.

Stretching is not only limited to minimizing the risk of injury or warming up before exercise. It also increases your stamina, enhances your posture, and elevates energy levels.

Importance of Flexibility and Strength

Importance of Flexibility and Strength

For every athlete, flexibility and strength are two crucial elements. Flexibility is affected by muscle elasticity, the health of joints, and the nervous system.

Flexibility is also very important if you are not an athlete but wish to perform everyday activities with ease.

Due to weight training, your muscles get stiff every other day. If they are not flexible enough then they can lead to discomfort and cause pain in joints.

Similarly, strength is the basic need of every athlete, especially for bodybuilders. For lifting heavy weights and giving out max reps, a lot of strength is needed.

It’s easy for a beginner bodybuilder to get fast gains. But if the workouts don’t get intense with time, then your gains will be plateaued.

To continue building muscle mass, you need to remember that strength begets size. So, there is no doubt that you should be performing stretching exercises to improve flexibility and strength.

Starting Stretching Routine

There is a big list of the stretching routines you can try. You need to know what are some of the best stretching exercises and when you should perform them.

It’s a common myth that stretching exercises should be performed daily. But, stretching out your muscles every day would eventually lead to weak muscle fibers and joints.

Stretching regimens can be performed 3-4 times a week for 15-20 mins only. And, keep in mind that you should not be stretching the same muscle group repeatedly.

  • Dynamic Stretching

These are the stretches suggested for trying out before a workout. Their purpose is to actively prepare the muscles for upcoming exercise and increase nerve activity.

They play an active role in decreasing the risk of injury and takes muscles through their full range of motion.

  • Static Stretching

These stretches are performed after you finish a workout. These stretches help in relieving the stress built up in your muscles after a workout.

They are not only helpful in relieving muscular stiffness but, they can relax your mind if combined with breathing techniques.

To read more about fast and effective post-workout recovery click here.

  • Stretching Before Bedtime

Do you feel difficulty falling asleep fast? Are you waking up in the middle of the night and can’t get a peaceful sleep?

Well, you are not alone. The physical and mental exhaustion due to our busy lifestyle is causing a lot of us to lose sleep.

Stretching your body before going to bed can help your body to rejuvenate itself during sleep. It relaxes your muscles and prevents waking up in the middle of the night due to discomfort.

These are some of the best stretching exercises to improve your flexibility and strength.

Calf Stretch

Calf Stretch

Why You Should Do It

Due to training, your calf muscles get tight and are prone to tearing. Stretching your calves before exercise improves the range of motion and reduces the risk of injury due to tendon tears.

How to Do It

  •  Stand with your feet hip-width apart, one foot should be forward.

  • Slowly bend your front knee, keep your back leg straight.

  • Bend your knee until you can feel stretch in the calf of your back leg.

  • Keep this position for 4-5 sec.

  • Straighten your front leg and come back to your standing position.

  • Repeat this with the other leg.

Tips

  •  Your back should not be arched, engage your core while moving forward.

  • Remember not to lock your elbows while bending.

  • To maintain balance, you can hold onto something like a chair.

Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch

 

Why You Should Do It

Hamstrings can be tightened up easily due to running or even activities like dancing. Tight hamstrings can cause discomfort and can also lead to strain and tearing.

The hamstring stretches are a perfect remedy for keeping these muscles loose and preventing injuries.

To checkout, workout gear to help your stretch comfortably, click here

How to Do It

There are a lot of hamstrings stretching exercises. The simple and most effective one is seated hamstring stretch.

  • Sit on the ground with one leg crossed (butterfly position)

  • Extend the other leg, the knee should be slightly bent.

  • Bend forward stretching your waist over your extended leg.

  • Hold this position for 15-30 sec.

  • Repeat with your other leg.

 Tips

  • Engage your abs and back muscles when stretching forward.

  • You can hold the foot of your extended leg for support.

Shoulder Pass-Through

Shoulder Pass-Through

Why You Should Do It

While doing the majority of weightlifting exercises, our shoulder muscles are being used. Due to the constant force, they can undergo strain easily.

So, it’s important to build flexibility and strength of shoulders. Stretching shoulders will increase your range of motion and prevent injury.

Shoulder pass-through is an all-inclusive exercise for building flexibility and strength.

How To Do It

  •  Stand shoulder-width apart.

  • Hold a lightweight stick with an overhand grip.

  • Your arms should be a little wider than shoulder-width.

  • Lift the stick above your head and extend it before your head.

  • Hold this position for 3-5 seconds.

  • Return to starting position

Tips

  • Only extend as far as comfortable before your head.

  • Engage your core while lifting the stick.

  • You can use a broomstick or PVC pipe.

Triceps Stretch

Triceps Stretch

Why You Should Do It

Triceps muscles are the major portion of your arm about 70%. Tricep stretches are important because they improve flexibility and strength that helps you in lifting heavy.

Triceps Stretches help with preventing muscle tightness as well as boost the blood and oxygen supply.

How to Do It

  •  Stand hip-width apart, roll your shoulders behind your neck.

  • Raise one arm and bend it at the elbow, the palm of your hand should be touching the middle of your back.

  • Now, lift your other arm behind the neck and apply pressure on the elbow of the bent arm.

  • Hold this position for about 20 sec.

  • Repeat for the other side.

Tips

  • Don’t engage your shoulders. They should be in a relaxed state.

  • Keep your back straight by engaging your core.

Back Stretch: Cat-Cow

Back Stretch

Why You Should Do It

Back pain is a common problem among the majority of bodybuilders. The lower back has weak muscles and can lead to injury easily.

Back stretching helps to heal an existing back injury and prevents any injuries in the future by strengthen the muscles.

How to Do It

  •  Start with your hand knees on the floor (crawling position).

  • Tuck your head downward, lifting your back.

  • Now, sink your belly and extend your neck upward.

  • Hold this position for few seconds and return to starting position.

Tips

  • Focus on your breathing, inhale as you tuck your head in.

  • Exhale as you lift your neck.

  • Engage your core and glutes

Quad Stretch

Quad Stretch

Why You Should Do It

Having flexible and powerful quads are very important for athletes. Tough quads ensure safety during weightlifting and maintain stamina during the long run.

If you don’t stretch your quads effectively, your body becomes more vulnerable to muscular injury and tightness.

How to Do IT

  •  Stand hip-width apart.

  • Bend your one leg and bring the foot behind you.

  • Hold the foot using your hand.

  • Hold this position for 20 sec.

  • Return to starting position and repeat with the other leg.

Tips

  • Engage your core and back to keep balance.

  • If you have difficulty maintaining balance, then hold onto a sturdy surface with your free hand.

Runners Stretch

Runners Stretch

Why You Should Do It

The runner’s stretch, also known as the half split is a full-body stretching exercise. It stretches your glutes, hamstrings all in one go.

Practicing runner’s stretch is great for the health of your joints, increasing the flexibility of muscles, and maintaining balance.

For more:  Key Techniques To Have a More Effective Run

 

How to Do It

  •  Start with your right knee bent against the floor and left leg straight.

  • Slowly lower your left knee towards the floor, lowering your torso.

  • Now, straighten your right leg by shifting your body weight back into your hips.

  • Hold this position for 20 sec.

  • Repeat with the other leg.

Tips

  • Try to touch your chest with your leg, don’t curl your back too much instead focus on lengthening your spine.

  • Focus on breathing, exhale as you stretch, and inhale as you relax.

  • If your hands can’t reach the floor, you can rest them on any sturdy surface.

Cobra Pose

Cobra Pose

Why You Should Do It

Cobra pose is another effective full-body stretch exercise. It helps in strengthening the spine, chest, shoulders, and core.

It is an exercise performed by Yoga experts as it helps in relieving stress and fatigue. Cobra pose can increase the blood circulation in your body and is also beneficial for your lungs if combined with proper breathing techniques.

How to Do It

  • Lie down flat on the floor, stretch your legs back and toes out on the floor.

  • Spread your palms on the floor and keep your elbows close to your body.

  • Lift your chest off the floor by pressing your palms into the floor and straighten the arms.

  • Squeeze your hips and keep pushing your navel center downwards.

  • Hold this position for 15-20 sec.

  • Release back to the floor.

Tips

  • Keep your shoulders in position as you engage them to lift your chest.

  • There should be a slight bend in your elbows.

Takeaway

Rushing into workouts without proper stretching exercises would lead to nothing but injuries. A full-body stretch can help you stay safe from muscular tears.

Stretching before and after a workout is very important as it helps in preparing the muscles for an intense workout and relieves the built-up tension after exercise.

Try these exercises to improve flexibility and strength, and you will be surprised to see the results.