Everybody has an opinion on stretching exercises. My thoughts:
Stretch or don’t stretch, just do this move before your workout and you’ll be better prepared for any type of exercise.
The key is that you’re moving in a similar fashion to when you do an activity, whether it’s lifting weights or playing sports.
This means that your ligaments, tendons, and muscles are activated in more functional way. And by functional, it means you’ll be able to lift more weight, generate more power, and reduce the likely of ending up hurting yourself and cursing another missed warmup.
Everyone always wants to know the best stretch for your body, and it turns out there is a move that meets that demand.
To mobilize your whole body demands a combination of four movements, says strength coach Eric Cressey.
Your solution: A barefoot walking high-knee hug-to-spiderman lunge-to-overhead reach- to-hip lift.
That’s a mouthful, but translated into English it means: you’re doing the king of stretching exercises and your body is good to go.
The movement targets the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine, three areas of the body that tend to be the most restricted, says Cressey. So if you need hip flexor stretches, back stretches, or shoulder stretches, then this is a great place to start.
Do 6 reps on each side and it should take about 45 seconds total, either before training or as part of a morning or mid-afternoon routine.
Part 1: Walking High Knee Hug
Why: It stretches your glutes and demands over 90-degrees of hip flexion, a range of motion that challenges desk-jockeys
How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Step forward with your right leg, bend your knee, and lean forward slightly at your hips. Lift you right knee toward your chest, grasping it with both hands just below your kneecap.
Then pull it as close to the middle of your chest as you can, while you stand up tall.
Release your right leg, and step into…
Part 2: Spiderman (offset lunge)
Why: It mobilizes your groin area and legs.
How to do it: Still balanced on your left leg, step forward and outwards at a 30-degree angle with your right leg and slowly lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees.
(Your rear knee should nearly touch the floor). Keeping your legs in the lunge position, and back straight, bend forward and touch the floor with both hands.
Part 3: Overhead reach (in lunge position)
Why: It mobilizes your thoracic spine, stretches your chest , and activates your core.
How to do it: Keep your right hand near your right instep and then rotate and open your torso and reach over head with your left arm until it is straight. (Both arms should form a straight line.) The return your left arm to the ground.
Step 4: Hip raise (from lunge position)
Why: It stretches the hamstrings.
How to do it: You should be in an off-set lunge with your right knee at 90-degrees, your back knee grazing the ground, and both hands touching the floor with your arms at close to 90 degrees. Next, push your arms, rock back, and straighten your front and back legs.
Then step forward and do the series on the left side.
Adam Bornstein is a New York Times bestselling author and, according to The Huffington Post, “one of the most inspiring sources in all of health and fitness.” An award-winning writer and editor, Bornstein was the Fitness and Nutrition editor for Men’s Health, Editorial Director at LIVESTRONG.com, and a columnist for SHAPE, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness. He’s also a nutrition and fitness advisor for LeBron James, Cindy Crawford, Lindsey Vonn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. His work has been featured in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Fast Company, ESPN, and GQ, and he’s appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, E! News, and The Cheddar.