There are many routines and habits that bodybuilders develop through repetition. Some always eat the same foods or drink the same drinks. Others always wear the same clothing, or develop a specific routine for entering the gym and starting their workout. Another important pre workout routine is the warm-up. This is essential for optimizing the workout and avoiding injury.
There are different views and opinions about what the proper warm up should consist of. Most people believe in the need for a general warm up before starting, and then exercise specific warm ups before each muscle group. The controversy comes when dealing with stretching. Some people swear by static stretching before a workout, while others believe static stretching should be reserved for post workout stretching only. The latter group believes that dynamic stretching is much better for pre workout stretching.
Research brings about new developments in the science of stretching on a regular basis. Currently, it is believed that stretching cold muscles may lead to additional injuries. It is also believed that this may cause a reduction in the range of motion, because the tearing of the muscle causes the production of scar tissue in the muscle. It is also believed that stretching and holding it for more than two to three seconds is also counterproductive. Holding the stretch for longer than that actually activates the stretch receptors in the tendons and causes the muscle to contract.
Pre Workout Stretching Routines
A common pre workout routine following this new research would include a general warm up of walking, jogging, biking, or some other cardiovascular exercise for ten to fifteen minutes. This would be followed by some dynamic stretches for the muscles that will be trained. This might be some light plyometrics, calisthenics, or agility exercises. This stretches the muscles through a full range of motion in an active manner and prepares them for the workout to follow. Static stretches should be reserved for in between sets and post workout.
To put this in a simple format, the following pre workout stretch routine would work for a chest workout:
- Stationary bike for ten minutes
- Arm circles for fifteen seconds forward, then back
- Forward and back arm swings for fifteen seconds
- Chest pass with a medicine ball for ten repetitions
- Explosive push-ups all the way to the floor for a set of ten repetitions
The pectorals, deltoids, latissimus dorsi, and triceps should be well warmed and stretched at this point and ready for any exercises thrown at them. This type of stretching serves to stretch the tendons, the belly of the muscle, and even the fascia around the muscle. The muscle is better prepared for the workout and will be less susceptible to the potential injuries encountered when training a cold, or poorly stretched, muscle.
Pre Workout Stretching – Tips
The key, when performing pre workout stretches is to make sure to stretch all of the muscles that will be involved in the workout. When training the back there are many supporting and assistance muscles that are called into play, also. Obviously, the latissimus dorsi, teres major, rhombus, and trapezius muscles must all be stretched, but don’t forget the others. The spinal erectos (lower back), the rear deltoids, the biceps, the forearms, and the neck all get worked hard during a back workout. If dead lift or power cleans are performed then the hips and legs also get worked.
Pre workout stretching is necessary to prepare the muscles, and entire body, for the work to follow. Neglecting this important pre workout routine can result in injuries, sometimes career ending. Pre workout stretching is as important, or more, as any other pre workout routine.