When you hit the gym, do you head straight for the treadmill or take a few minutes for some pre-workout stretches? While it can be tempting to immediately jump into your workout once you exit the locker room, you really should be beginning your gym session with dynamic stretching.

With dynamic stretches, you are moving as you stretch, rather than holding a position. These types of stretches are the most effective warmup, as they activate the muscles you’ll be using during your workout. Dynamic stretching increases your flexibility, blood flow, muscular power, and body awareness, while reducing your risk of injury and recovery time.

Those static stretches, which involve stretching the muscles while the body is at rest, should be saved for after your workout. Performing them before a workout can actually inhibit your performance. To maximize your workout, warm up with these stretches:

Crossover Jumping Jacks

Image Source: Days of Fitness

Crossover jumping jacks are a great warmup because they work your entire body. They differ from traditional jumping jacks as you switch your arm and leg movements during your jump.

Start with your feet more than hip-width apart and your arms straight out at your sides at shoulder height. Swing your right arm on top of your left, while jumping your right leg in front of your left. Quickly jump back into starting position and repeat, crossing your left arm and leg in front of your right.

Lateral Leg Swings

Image Source: Pop Sugar

Lateral legs swings primarily target your hips, while also stretching your inner and outer thighs. To perform this stretch, start in a standing position and face the wall. Hold your hands out straight at your sides, or place them on the wall for support. Keep your right leg stationary and swing your left leg to the left and across your body to the right. Repeat this motion until you finish your reps. Then switch sides.

Forward Leg Swings

Image Source: WebMD

Forward leg swings target your hips, hamstrings, quads and calves. Start in standing position with the wall to your right. Hold onto the wall with your right hand. Keep your right leg stationary and slowly swing your left leg forward and backward. Finish your reps and switch sides.

Hand Walks

Image Source: Omni Info

Image Source: Omni Info

This stretch focuses on your shoulders, core, calves and hamstrings. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Slowly bend forward until your hands are on ground. Without bending your knees, walk your hands forward until you’re in a plank position. Then, slowly walk your feet back to your hands and repeat.

Glute Bridge March

Image Source: The Edge Fitness & Wellness

Image Source: The Edge Fitness & Wellness

The glute bridge march primarily targets your glutes and core. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips off the floor so that your body is in a straight diagonal line from the knees to the shoulders. Then brace your core and raise your right knee toward your chest. Hold for three seconds and lower your foot. Repeat with your left leg.

Before you exercise, perform these five exercises to make the most out of your workout.

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