Today, you’re going to learn how to stretch.
Our mission here at Nerd Fitness is to keep you safe and healthy on your quest to live a better life.
Stretching correctly is so freaking important that if you are tight on time, I’d suggest you cut the workout short – just not the warm-up before or cool down after.
Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.
Today we’ll share with you why you should stretch after your training, plus provide multiple routines for you to try out.
Because I’m nice like that.
Also, if you’re stretching as part of a strength training routine, you might be interested in our free guide Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. It walks you through every aspect of starting a strength training practice, from beginning weight recommendations, proper form to prevent injury, and even MORE stretching exercises for you to try out.
You can grab it free when you join the Rebellion below:
Download our comprehensive guide
- Everything you need to know about getting strong.
- Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
- How to find the right gym and train properly in one.
I told you I was nice.
Why should you stretch after a workout?
Now, there are conflicting stories and reports and studies on the benefits of stretching before/after workouts. In this nerd’s humble opinion and experience, along with the opinion and experience of those that I personally respect, static stretching BEFORE a workout isn’t beneficial and can actually decrease your strength. Which is why we recommend dynamic warm-ups (jump jacking, leg swing, etc.)
However, stretching AFTER a workout can help kickstart the recovery process, loosen up your joints and muscles, and keep you feeling like a normal person rather than a robot.
Not that having the flexibility of a steel girder ISN’T fun, but it’s not my thing 🙂
This is why I find stretching AFTER a workout to be so beneficial (as it’s so eloquently explained in this great article):
“When you lift a weight your muscles contract. And after the workout the muscles remain contracted for some time. The following restoration of the muscles’ length is what recovery is. Until the muscle has restored its length, it has not recovered. Hence he who does not stretch his muscles slows down the recuperation process and retards his gains.” Besides, tension and relaxation are the two sides of the same coin, “if the muscle forgets how to lengthen, it will contract more poorly. And that is stagnation of strength.”
When you go through a great stretch routine after a heavy weight lifting day, your muscles are already starting to recover and expand, which will allow to you get back to “normal” more quickly than if you didn’t stretch.
And with improved flexibility comes improved performance in almost all areas of life (yup, even THAT).
Also, as you get older, your flexibility and mobility start to go…making you FEEL older. If you can stay flexible, you’re more likely to stay happy and healthy for far longer. Staying flexible keeps you active, and staying active keeps you young.
Beginner Stretching Routine
Now, after working out, HOW should you stretch depends on a few factors: Your particular fitness level, your level of flexibility, how hard you worked out, and which muscles have been stretched.
Here’s a beginner stretching routine to complete after your workouts, starring my buddy Vic Magary.
What’s important is to try your best, don’t stretch beyond the point where the movements are actually painful. Slight discomfort (from stretching, duh) is what we’re aiming for.
Now, how far you stretch is up to you – You know your body best, and it’s the only one you got – so please take care of it!
The Beginner Cool Down Stretching Routine is as follows:
- Reach above and fully extend your body
- Keep legs straight, bend forward and stretch for 10 seconds
- Stretch towards the left for 10 seconds, and then the right for 10 seconds
- With legs together bend forwards for 10 seconds
- Squat down and hug your knees to your chest
- Roll onto your back in the same position
- Kneel and lean back with arms extended and rock forwards stretching the lower back (repeat 3-5 times)
- Sit with the bottoms of your feet together, lean forward and stretch (repeat 2 or 3 times)
Advanced Stretching Routine
Here’s a video of a more advanced stretching routine that I adapted from my fitness Yoda/friend Mike Rickett. It’s a mix of yoga, stretching, tai-chi, pilates, and awesome. This is relatively advanced, so don’t do any of these movements that are too much of a reach (get it?!) for you.
The video explains everything, so pay attention to both the movement and number of repetitions. Although I move quickly through the movements (sorry about that), don’t confuse my movements with bouncing – stretch as far as you can, hold it for a few seconds without bouncing, and then repeat the process:
is yOGA good FOR a post-workout stretch?
Yoga is awesome.
It can help improve flexibility, strength, and mindfulness.
Plus, if you’re looking for a stretching routine to cool down with after your training, yoga almost seems built for it. Oftentimes a yoga routine will end in corpse pose, the perfect posture after a hard training session.
Want to see a sample routine? You got it:
The above video (Water Series – A) is taken from our course, Nerd Fitness Yoga. If you like it, I’d encourage you to go browse the page and check it out.
Want more free videos and demos on yoga poses? You can click right here for “21 Yoga Poses for Beginners.”
USing a Foam roller for post-workout stretches
Do you own a foam roller?
With that, and a little floor space, you’ll have all you need for perfect post-workout stretch.
Let’s show you how to do the following:
- Thoracic Spine
- Glutes (both sides)
- Quads (one at a time)
Here’s a video demonstrating the moves, plus a T-Rex (this is Nerd Fitness after all):
Want more tips on starting a foam roller practice? Click right here for our article “How to Use A Foam Roller.”
pARTING WORDS ON STRETCHING EXERCISES
What’s that? You want even more stretching recommendations?
Depending on how you’re feeling, where you’re sore, and so on – you can throw in some additional movements:
No matter what training your doing, whether it’s with bodyweights, actual weights, or running, always make sure you take some time post-workout for some stretching exercises. You’ll do a lot to help speed up your recovery.
Alright, your turn:
Do you have any favorite post-exercise stretches?
Any difficult areas you try and troubleshoot after your training?
What do you do to help with post-workout recovery?
Let us know in the comments!
PS: With all this talk on post-workout stretching, did you miss warming up? I got you.
All photo citations can be read right here.