12 May 2011 ~ 10 Comments

Dynamic Stretches – for Pre-Workout

The recent post discussed the difference between Dynamic and Static Stretching.  Dynamic stretching does  a great job of improving dynamic flexibility for your workout.

I said I would follow up with a  set of Dynamic Stretching exercises that you can use before your workouts.  I also mentioned that the Dynamic stretch is much like our “warm-ups” from high school gym class; so if you recall those days, and haven’t suppressed the memories (with good reason), you should recognize some of the movements.    And don’t neglect your Static Stretching after the workout – forgetting to stretch very easy to do; just ask me!!

Remember that a healthy lifestyle consists of a proper balance between cardiovascular training, resistance training and flexibility training. We place so much emphasis on the first two that the last one is neglected.

Stretching  is generally an afterthought !  But I have to say that the movement involved in Dynamic Stretching has been pretty easy to build in to my pre-workout routine.  I don’t need to find a mat and a space on the floor.  Being in Southern California I can even just step outside the gym and do the “warm-up” in the sunshine.  Pretty cool!

A quick reminder of the benefits of Flexibility training:

• Reduced stress in exercising muscles
• Improves posture; good posture minimizes stress and maximizes strength of all joint movements
• Reduced risk of injury-muscles become more pliable
• Improved performance in everyday activities

• Improves both Cardiovascular and Resistance training

To help you get started, here are some great dynamic stretching exercises that you can do to get your body ready for action.  I reviewed the exercises offered by   Srdjan Popovic (of Bloom to Fit  – which was one of my sources for the Dynamic stretching posts.)   I then ran these and some other exercise by my local Physiotherapist/trainer for his view.  And I came away with some good guidelines for dynamic stretching.    A general recommendation is to make sure you get your body temperature up with a warm up – such as 5 minutes on the stationary bike  –  before doing any of these exercises.

1.     Body Swing.   This is the name I have given to this first movement;  and I first saw it during a warm-up prior to a Capoeira class.

Stand with legs apart and arms out to the side (parallel to the ground).  Swing your arms to the left as you move your upper body to the left, then let your arms wrap so that your left arm is against your lower back and your right arm is across your body (like you are giving the left side of your torso a hug).  Twist toward the right as you unwind your arms once again swinging your arms and then giving your right side a light hug.  Keep your body upright; and do not lean forward or sideways.   Continue twisting and un-twisting left and right for about 30 seconds.

2.    Forward Leg Swing.   This is a great exercise that dynamically stretches your hip flexors and extensors.

Find something you can hold onto that provides enough space for you to swing your leg forwards and back in front of you. A wall will do.

Flex and extend one leg at a time. Keep your legs straight (but knees unlocked) and your upper body straight and facing forward. Your eyes should be facing in front and your shoulder blades should be retracted.

Dynamic Stretching #2

Start by making small swings and progress the stretch a little bit every swing. After 10 or 15 swings you should be reaching your highest point. Do the same thing for the other leg.

Start by making small swings and progress the stretch a little bit every swing. After 10 or 15 swings you should be reaching your highest point. Do the same thing for the other leg.

For  more advanced movement, don’t hold onto anything.  And remember to keep your torso upright.

3.    Sideways Leg Swing .   This exercise dynamically stretches your adductors and abductors and it goes great with the forward leg swing.

Find something to hold onto. I typically do mine against a wall. Face the wall and place both hands on it for balance. Swing one leg at a time from side to side. It helps if you get on your toes as you swing.

Make sure you are facing the wall throughout the entire swinging process. Don’t let your torso rotate as you swing because you want to place the focus on your adductors and abductors.  Repeat for 30 seconds on each leg.

Dynamic Stretch #3

4.    Forward Walking Lunge

Keep your upper body straight, head and chest up and shoulder blades retracted. Step forward with the right leg keeping your back straight.  As you step forward into a lunge, lower the back knee toward the ground.  Make sure the front knee does not extend over the toes – the knee should be in line with or slightly behind the toes.  Push off on the front leg and step forward on the other leg into a lunge;  once again being aware of the placement of  body and knees.

Try to squeeze your glutes on each repetition. Each time you step out, squeeze the glute of the back leg. This will help you better engage the stretch and will also prevent your back from arching. Do 10 on each leg.

Note that you don’t have to do a walking lunge. You can simply step out and push off with the front leg to return to starting position.

A more advanced move –  Forward Lunge with Torso Twist

Dynamic Stretch #4

This is a tough exercise but it’s great for dynamically stretching your hip extensors. It’s also great for preparing your torso for action.

Start with a forward lunge. Keep your upper body straight, head and chest up and shoulder blades retracted. Extend both arms in front of you. As you step forward into a lunge, twist your torso to the side of the leg you stepped out with. Twist until you feel a slight stretch and hold for a second. Bring your torso back to a forward-facing position and step back to original position. Do the same for the other leg. Eight to ten lunges to each side.

Try to squeeze your glutes on each repetition. Each time you step out, squeeze the glute of the back leg. This will help you better engage the stretch and will also prevent your back from arching

5.     Bent-Over Torso Twist.  What I call the Windmill  – and it has to look familiar to anyone who  participated in the gym class (what we called “PT”) at High School.

Although it’s fairly simple, it does a great job of preparing your  hamstrings, glutes, core muscles and adductors for movement.

Dynamic Stretch #5

Start by standing with your feet wide apart. Extend your arms out to the sides (same starting position as in 1. above).    Bend over touching your right food with your left hand.   Now rotate your torso so  your right hand touches your left foot. Ensure both arms are extended out so when one hand touches the foot, the other hand is pointing to the sky. Keep rotating like this for 30 repetitions at a moderate pace

Make sure that your back is straight (not arched, nor rounded) and that your shoulder blades are retracted. Don’t flex your back! Keep your upper body aligned properly.   This is extremely important, especially for female boomers.  Also keep your legs extended but knees not locked (keep knees “relaxed”) as you perform your repetitions.  Repeat fro 30 – 40 seconds.

6.      Side-to-side Prisoner Squats

Prisoner squats are great bodyweight exercises. They’re also great for dynamically stretching your adductors and aligning your posture correctly.

A prisoner squat is performed with your hands behind your head. Your feet should be slightly past shoulder-width with your feet slightly angled out. Initiate the squat by hinging your hips back and sitting back – i.e. think of trying to sit in an imaginary chair. This will prevent your knees from going past your toes.  Keep your back straight, chest up and head facing forward.

Dynamic Sretch #6

Go down until your thighs are parallel with the ground  – or as far as feels comfortable but not beyond the parallel position.   As you come up, pivot on one leg and turn 180 degrees to face the other side. Perform another prisoner squat. Keep pivoting until you do a total of 10 prisoner squats on each side (20 total).

This exercise is great for preparing your lower body for a workout.

Watch Craig Ballantyne on YouTube  demonstrate  how to do a proper prisoner squat.   He doesn’t change direction but you will.  You will be pivoting on one foot in between reps so you’re changing direction 180 degrees after each squat.

There you have it – do these 6 great  dynamic stretching exercises to get you ready for your workout.

What are your thoughts on dynamic stretching or stretching in general? Share in the comments below!

10 Responses to “Dynamic Stretches – for Pre-Workout”

  1. vin 12 May 2011 at 6:33 am Permalink

    Quite an impressive accounting of stretching exercises…for the lazy of us the stretching alone would be cause for a sandwich and a nap :-) Good info….

  2. admin 18 May 2011 at 10:26 pm Permalink

    Glad you liked the post. And I appreciate the sense of humor. :) Once you do them a few times they take less effort but really do feel like a warmup of the muscles.

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  7. Ivy 18 December 2012 at 8:13 pm Permalink

    Thank you! I started working out and was doing static exercises before my workouts, prior to learning the difference between the two kinds of stretching. I will certainly be changing my routine, and am happy I found your page.

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