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Stretching and Warming Up

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Should you stretch before working out.

Going back to elementary school, we were all told to stretch before working out. Obviously the theory behind this is to loosen our muscles to prevent muscle pulls and injuries. The most commonly recommended type of stretching is called Static Stretching. where the muscle is slowly stretched and then held in the stretched position for several seconds. Unfortunately we were misinformed.

Static Stretching performed before workouts has been shown in scientific studies to actually decrease the amount of force that the stretched muscle can generate by up to 15%. Besides that, it doesn’t make much sense to stretch a cold muscle when its prone to tears and pulls.

For those looking to improve flexibility, Static stretching is beneficial but only after a workout or a thorough warm -up of a minimum of 15 minutes. If you lift weights, static stretching makes for a good cool-down helping to return the heart rate back to normal and let the body know that you’re done working out.

If your aim is just to warm up prior to strength training, skip the static stretching and perform 5-10 minutes of light cardio followed by a specific, active warm up. For upper body, arm circles and arm swings. For lower body, bodyweight squats, and walking lunges will do. For full body, exercises like jumping rope and jumping jacks work fine.

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This publication is presented for information purposes, to increase the public knowledge of health and fitness.

The information presented is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice.

Any of this advice should not be adopted without a consultation with your health professional.

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