I’ve been working out since the past 6 years and believe me folks I hardly see people in the gym doing stretching before, during and after their workouts religiously. The purpose of stretching prior to starting a workout is to prepare your muscles for the battle you are going to fight. Not only are you putting yourself in danger of injury by not flexing the muscle you are going to train, but you are also restricting yourself from getting the 100% from your work out.
I know it’s a little hard to believe that stretching is so important, but you may try performing a little experiment yourself. Take two different days and on day one, just go to the gym and workout without doing any kind of stretching and on the other, stretch before, during and after your workout. The result? Stretching will definitely make your workout much more effective and will help to relax and soothe your muscles.
What most people don’t understand is that stretching and lifting are complimentary and go hand in hand. Most of the people neglect this aspect of their fitness regime. Stretching has major benefits. Let me just summon up a few of them:
1. Stretching helps to improve flexibility.
2. Prepares your muscles for workout and helps prevent injury.
3. Increases blood supply to the muscle.
4. Provides a mental break and helps calms the mind (Eg. Yoga)
Now something I’d like to stress upon is the need to not only stretch before but also during and after your workout. You will see great improvements in your overall muscle development when you get into the habit of stretching during your workouts. The best time to stretch your muscles is when they are pumped full of blood. The reason being that by stretching at that time, you increase the pressure on your muscle fibers and force them to grow larger to accommodate that extra bit of pressure.
One set of hard stretching after each exercise for a muscle group can, besides the obvious benefits of increased flexibility, have an incredible effect on the growth of your muscles and further helps burn some extra calories as well. Thinking how to go ahead with it? The moment you are done with one exercise, say flat bench press, flex that particular muscle (in this case the chest muscle) for increased blood supply. The bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger used to finish his chest workouts with dumbbell fly, an exercise that emphasizes the stretched position of the pectoral muscles. This sort of flexing gave his chest room to grow to amazing proportions. So now you know how to get those gorilla pecks! 😉