How to Stretch Before Lifting Weights

Fit woman stretching
A woman is stretching. (Image: bigphotomaster/iStock/Getty Images)

Dynamic stretches put your joints and muscles through a range of motion. These help you warm up and loosen up, preparing your muscles and joints for the strenuous activity of weightlifting. However, you shouldn't do static stretches that involve gradually easing into a stretch, and holding the position. According to a study published in the March 2013 issue of the "Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports," static stretches before weightlifting reduce your muscles' ability to perform optimally, so stick to dynamic stretching before you lift weights.

Step 1

Stand with your feet approximately hip-width apart for proper balance. Position your arms down by your sides. Raise both arms and swing them to your front in a circular motion for 15 repetitions. Reverse the direction and swing them backward for another 15 reps. This dynamic stretch warms up your shoulders and chest.

Step 2

Raise your arms sideways with your upper arms parallel to the floor, forearms perpendicular to your upper arms and your palms facing forward. Pull both arms backward while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Next, bring both arms forward until your forearms touch in front of your chest. This stretches your upper back and chest. Do 20 repetitions.

Step 3

Place your hands on your hips and perform hip circles, or hip twists. Move your hips in a clock-wise direction 20 times, then counter-clock-wise for another 20 reps. Next perform side bends by alternately bending to your right, then your left. Keep your head up and body upright. Perform 20 repetitions. These exercises stretch and warm up your hips, obliques and erector spinae of your lower back.

Step 4

Stand with your feet about one and a half hip-widths apart. Place your hands on your hips and lower yourself into a squat, Ensure your feet remain flat on the floor and your knees in line with your feet. Go as low as you can before pushing up to an upright position. Do 15 to 20 reps. According to ExRx.net, this helps improve your ankle, knee and hip flexibility, enhancing your ability to perform barbell squats, especially deep barbell squats. This dynamic stretch also warms up and stretches your quadriceps, hamstrings, butt and calves.

Tip

Do a short cardiovascular routine before your dynamic stretches. This could be five to 10 minutes on the stationary bike or elliptical machine. This raises your core temperature and reduces risk of injury when performing dynamic stretches.

Warning

Dynamic stretches involve controlled movements of your torso, arms and legs through their natural range of motion. Don't use jerky movements to force your limbs beyond their natural range of motion This may cause injury.

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