Heavily Muscled Physiques Can Benefit from Stretching Sessions
The benefits of stretching are multiple – and it only takes a few minutes of stretching to deliver all those benefits to your body. If you can include a minimum of just five to seven minutes of stretching both before and after your workout, you will be working towards increasing your flexibility and even your range of motion.
Stretching: Basics and Benefits
Stretching is also known to help prevent injury and reduce or avoid soreness. When you perform a session before regular exercise, it can reduce the tensions you may be carrying in various muscle groups. Often, we are unaware of these tight or tense muscles, but sufficient stretching can help them to respond positively and be readier for the stress put on them by weight training. Finally, stretching also improves cardiovascular circulation by assisting the capillaries to transport blood throughout the muscles with greater ease.
Notes Jon Van Der Assche, a heavyweight amateur American competitive bodybuilder: “At my weight, and the amount of muscle gains I’ve been adding through my diet and training, regular stretching has become essential in both the in-season and off-season periods. It has helped me be much more flexible, avoid injury during some heavy power lifting and has become a consistent part of my lifestyle.”
Integrating Stretching into Leisure or Exercise Activity
While stretching is beneficial to include in advance of an actual gym workout, you can also find your own opportunities to integrate it during time away from the gym or while doing other activities outdoors. A few basic upper and lower body stretches include:
- Chest Stretch
Emphasis: extend and stretch the inner and outer pectorals. Performance: hold hands together with palms facing up behind your lower back. Hold position for about 10 seconds.
- Shoulder and Neck Stretch
Emphasis: loosen the muscles supporting the neck; relieve tightness in the shoulders. Performance: Place both hands behind the back and hold the right wrist with the left hand. While tilting the head to the left also pull the right arm toward the left. Hold for about 10 seconds before repeating on the other side.
- Posterior Shoulder Stretch
Emphasis: relieve tightness and enhance flexibility on the rear shoulders and delts. Performance: Hold the back of your left upper arm with the right hand and pull it across the chest gently. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat on your other side.
- Triceps Stretch
Emphasis: builds flexibility for the all the triceps areas, ensuring optimum strength performance and growth. Performance: Hold one end of a towel in the right hand and lift the right arm over the right shoulder, so the towel is hanging down the back. Reach up behind with the left hand and grab the other end of the towel. Gently pull the the triceps and lat muscles into a deep stretch. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on your other side.
- Groin Stretch
Emphasis: enhances flexibility in the groin and inner thigh areas. Performance: sitting on the ground, position the soles of the feet together. Grasp the ankles and gently push the knees down using the elbows. Hold for about 10 seconds.
- Lunging Stretch
Emphasis: stretches the muscles of the hips, gluteals and front quadriceps. Performance: step forward with either leg and descend into a fully bent position while keeping the other leg straight. Hold for at least 10-15 seconds, then repeat with your other foot forward.
Achieving and Maintaining Flexible Muscularity
Before any stretching session, you should increase circulation by doing some light cardio endurance exercise first. Once the muscles have been warmed up they are more pliable for stretching and less likely to strain. Walking or any type of running is one efficient way to achieve a rapid warm-up. If you are indoors, you can access treadmills, step machines or run in place. Outdoors, you can do a few minutes of any simple activity that elevates the heart rate–walking, jumping rope, or swimming. With some minimum effort and consistency, you will have made stretching both a productive and proactive element of your bodybuilding lifestyle.