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How to stretch for better strength and conditioning results

Jun 12, 2008
While I like to stress the importance of proper warm-ups before any kind of workout, Of course, stretching has a lot of other benefits to offer; not only as a warmup, but as a worthwhile addition to your fitness regimen in its own right. So no matter what fitness activity you're about to engage in, whether it's a weight training session or a game of tennis, you need to be prepared.

Flexibility is important to every aspect of your life, not just as a bodybuilder or athlete of any stripe. I'll try in this article to convince all of you of the merits of stretching each and every day, whether or not you'll even be working out that day!

Stretching will give you a greater range of movement which is handy in just about every situation you'll ever face in your daily life. Remember the last time you had to contort yourself to get something into or out of your crawlspace-style attic, for instance? Imagine how much easier that would have been if you were a bit more flexible. Or perhaps you have kids it's easier keeping up with children after following a regular routine of daily stretches. And as you get older, you'll find range of movement is one of the first things to deteriorate so it's VITALLY important to start keeping yourself flexible now to slow down the aging process.

Here's something else, people don't realize about stretching: You'll be more relaxed. Stretching causes your heart rate to slow and stress levels to lower somewhat. With regular stretching, this effect lasts far beyond when you are actually doing your stretches. (this is one of the reasons why yoga is so good for you!)

Sore muscles can actually be soothed by stretching. Although this may not make sense to you, it really works! Think of when you first get up in the morning and you want to get the blood flowing -- you stretch out with your hands above your head to get your muscles moving, relaxed and ready to go. Next time you have some sore muscles complaining to you, try a gentle stretch before reaching for that heating pad or ice pack (Although there's nothing wrong with using them and you should, a stretch can increase the pain relief and should be your first reaction).

It'll also help your posture. This is REALLY important, especially for weight lifters because bad posture creates muscle imbalances that lead to injuries. Also, this gets even more important the older you get as bad posture takes a greater toll over time.

Many strength training exercises require you to keep your back and head straight, which can be difficult if you have poor posture. Stretching can help you keep a better, more neutral posture and help you avoid straining yourself during exercises like squats as well as let you make the most of your workout by hitting the correct muscles in the correct way. Believe me, you don't want muscle imbalances -- they lead to lots of injuries!

Now, here's the last thing you should keep in mind You should warm up before stretching! Yeah I know, it seems like you don't need to, but you do need a little blood to get flowing. Just a quick walk with your arms moving freely as you do so is sufficient for this; but you don't want to go from a dead stop to a stretch. Because you need to make sure your muscles aren't totally "cold". And you certainly don't want to get an injury during your warm up! So now you know what to do -- so get stretching! I'll see you in the weight room!
About the Author
author Caleb Lee will teach you a lot about building muscle. His website will show you how to build muscle fast.
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