What Are the Best Pre-Workout Stretches?

When stretching before a workout, you want to focus on dynamic (moving) stretches rather than static stretches. Dynamic stretches and mobility work are the way to go.

Over the last few decades, a consensus has developed that the most important parts of your body to stretch and get blood flow to pre-workout are the shoulders and hips.

So in this article, we will focus on stretches that increase the mobility in your shoulders and hips. To keep things simple, we will focus on the two stretches for each of those body parts that we think are most effective.

Each exercise only needs to be done for 10 reps to be effective as a pre-workout stretch, although you should do as many as you want if you find they feel good and you’re enjoying the stretch.

But first, we start with a total body stretch to quickly warm up and mobilize key muscles in your body – enter the Stoney Stretch.

Pre-Workout Total Body Stretching

Before you do targeted stretches to work on your shoulders and hips, it’s a good idea to loosen your muscles through a total-body stretch to reverse the effects of sitting down and being in a hunched posture over a desk or a phone for long periods of the day.

The Stoney Stretch combines multiple stretches – from your biceps and pecs to your hip flexors, hamstrings and ankles – to give you a one-stop full-body stretch you can use to start your morning and/or your warmup.

Stretching your biceps and pecs like this frees up a lot of tightness impacting your shoulder, which in turn helps you mobilise and stretch your shoulders better. It also warms up your lower body to help you prepare for targeted stretches that would be extremely beneficial before a lower-body day.

This stretch requires a TRX setup or a pair of Olympic rings at the right height – if you are working out at home and do not have access to this equipment, you can adapt this stretch to the sides of a doorframe.

Stoney Stretch

Hold this stretch for 30 seconds for each side and you will have gone a long way towards mobilising key muscles, reversing postural issues due to sitting or being on your phone all day and will be primed for the stretches coming up ahead.

Pre-Workout Shoulder Stretching

Almost everyone who works out ends up with some form of shoulder pain (not to mention people who don’t workout and just sit in front of their laptop all day). The key to preventing shoulder pain is A) strengthen the upper back and B) work on shoulder mobility stretches.

The two shoulder stretches we love for pre-workout are called “thread the needle” and “world’s greatest stretch”

First we’ll start with thread the needle. Watch the following video:

Thread the Needle Stretch

Our recommendation is to not hold this stretch for very long on either side before a workout but to treat it as a dynamic mobility stretch, going from side to side. By doing this, you get your body used to moving through these ranges of motion and you’ll gradually get smoother and deeper.

Next we will look at World’s Great Stretch:

World’s Greatest Stretch

Although we are calling this a shoulder mobility stretch, it really hits most of your body. If you only do one stretch pre-workout, we’d encourage you to do this one.

Pre-Workout Hip Flexor Stretches

Almost everyone who works out ends up with hip flexor tightness and pain. The key is to keep your hip flexors from tightening up by doing regular mobility work.

The first hip flexor stretch we’d like to emphasize is a split squat with rotation:

Split Squat With External Rotation

The videos out there on this stretch aren’t perfect. So take the video above and make the following adjustments:

  • Make sure you have a posterior tilt (thrust your pelvis forward)
  • Don’t hold the stretch more than a second or two before switch legs
  • You really only need to rotate to your forward leg side

Finally, we are going to look at the lateral adductor hip rock stretch:

Lateral Adductor Hip Rock Stretch

This stretch gets your adductors, hamstring and hip flexors. Make sure to do both legs separately.

Pre-Workout Stretching Program

So to sum up, our pre-workout stretching program only takes about 5 minutes and involves 10 reps per exercise, per side. Here’s what you should do:

  • Stoney Stretch – 30 seconds each side
  • Thread The Needle Stretch – 10 reps per side
  • World’s Greatest Stretch – 10 reps per side
  • Split Squat Rotation – 10 reps per side
  • Lateral Adductor Hip Rock Stretch – 10 reps per side

Add this as part of your pre-workout routine and you’ll find that your mobility will increase and muscle pain decrease. In the case of the Stoney Stretch and the ‘World’s Greatest Stretch’, you can also do them before going to sleep or first thing in the morning to help you improve your mobility long-term.

More PreWorkout Resources: