In this Article:
1. The Missing Link from Most Gym Training Programs
2. When to Warm Up for Gym Training
3. Stretching Strategies for Sports Training
The Missing Link from Most Gym Training Programs
Most people drink a pre-workout drink, head to the gym, do a little bit of a warm up on the bike or treadmill, hit the weights, work up a sweat, and then head home for their post-workout meal including protein, glutamine, BCAA, and the best dietary supplements to enhance the work they just put in.
You feel good, your muscles are pumped and all in all it’s a good day at the office, right?
What’s missing from this otherwise normal sports training routine is stretching. Face it, we all have an urge to just skip on this part of the workout or if we do include it, it’s not enough. After an intense workout, slowing down to stretch can seem a little anti-climactic.
But your flexibility has more benefits that the amount of exertion suggests.
When to Warm Up for Gym Training
Now before we get into the best stretching strategies, let’s talk about temperature. Specifically, warming up. There is an ongoing debate about whether or not warming up before your athletic activity or event will enhance performance. Some say yes, others say no. So while a quick jog as a warm up before a sport may provide some benefit – helping you get into the right mindset, stretching in and of itself is not considered a “warm-up”.
The purpose of stretching is to improve your flexibility, your range of motion. And, stretching is best done when your muscles are warmed up so that you don’t experience injury.
There are all kinds of benefits to stretching. Being more flexible reduces your chance of injury and can also increase your performance in your sports training and your gym training programs. We’ll talk more about the benefits of stretching in another post, but for now, let’s talk strategy.
Stretching Strategies for Sports Training
Everybody has different levels of flexibility. And some of the reasons why have to do with your age, since flexibility declines with age, but some will be a reflection of your body’s anatomy. What important when you look at your own gym training program is to assess your flexibility based on you – not the flexibility of someone else. Don’t try to push beyond what’s comfortable just because the person lying next to you on the mat is a part-time contortionist!
Stretching Strategy #1: Make each stretch a controlled movement. Avoid bobbing, bouncing and jerking. Bouncing during a stretch can actually case tissue damage and increase pain.
Stretching Strategy #2: Breathe. You should be inhaling and exhaling normally during your gym training stretching program. When you hold your breath, your blood pressure increases.
Stretching Strategy #3: Relax. This can be hard if all you can think about is what you’re going to put in your protein shake! However, relax your mind and your body, and the result will be that you can accomplish a greater range of motion.
Stretching Strategy #4: No Pain. You want to stretch to a point where you experience mild discomfort. Especially when you stretching your spine. Keep the movements fluid.
Stretching Strategy #5: Hold on! Each stretch position should be held from 30-60 seconds. When you are doing it, it may seem like an eternity…but if you do 10-15 different stretches, that only 10-15 minutes out of your day. So relax, and enjoy it.
Stretching Strategy #6: Consistent Improvement. For best results, you should stretch consistently. It’s best to just make it part of your gym training program so that it becomes habit. Each week, try to stretch just a little more than you did the week before to improve your range of motion. Remember, you only need to compete with yourself.
Stretching will improve your overall sports training. Less injuries and greater abilities during physical exertion or your sport of choice will be your reward. Look, you’ve got a gym training program already, so just add 10-15 minutes on the backside and give your muscles what they need to thrive.
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