We all know that warming up, cooling down, and stretching are just as important as our lifting routine. Stretching helps to protect our joints and ligaments, increase blood flow, and increase flexibility. But not all stretches are created equal. Warming up your muscles properly before weight training looks different from stretching afterward. That’s why we are sharing the ten best stretches for weightlifting warm-ups.
Stretching Before Vs. After
Weightlifting is an intense exercise that requires your muscles, bones, and connective tissue to be ready for the challenge. Exercise science tells us that stretches before weightlifting should look a lot different than stretches after.
There are two ways to stretch.
Static stretches should come at the end of your workout, when you’re cooling down. These are the deep, long-held movements that often come to mind when you think about stretching. Doing these movements before a workout can actually cause unintended harm; save those deep stretches for after your lifting session.
Dynamic stretches include constant movement, getting your joints and muscles warmed up for the workout. You won’t hold one position during a dynamic stretch. Instead, it’s about targeted, fluid movements. Dynamic stretches for weightlifting should be done before your intense lifting begins.
Today, we’re looking at the best dynamic stretches for lifting.
10 Best Dynamic Stretches for Weightlifting
First, make sure you’re warming up the muscle groups you intend to train during your lifting session. If it’s a leg day, but you fail to warm up your knees and hips, you’re more prone to injury. Know your lifting routine, and do dynamic stretches accordingly.
Dynamic stretches shouldn’t take up much time. Five to ten minutes is plenty.
Best Upper Body Warm-Up Stretches
Okay, okay, yoga isn’t one single stretch, but it’s still a fantastic way to get your body ready for heavy lifting. The key is to keep a continuous flow and NOT hold those deep stretches.
Wrist and Arm Circles
Think like Cheech and Chong, and protect those joints! Your wrists, elbows, and shoulders take a beating from your lifting routine, so treat them kindly. Slow, simple circles in both directions can do wonders for keeping your upper body safe.
Side and Forward Bends
Don’t forget about your mid-section. Side and forward bends can loosen up that back, loosening stiff joints, engaging your core, and protecting your back.
“Only you can prevent weightlifting injuries.” -Lifty the Bear
Bear crawls are a great way to engage nearly every part of your body while getting your heart pumping. A minute or two of this simple-but-not-easy warm-up, and you’ll be ready to work your weightlifting magic!
There’s a reason many cross-training workouts start with a few minutes on the rowing machine. A gentle to moderate row increases your heart rate while effectively warming up nearly every joint in your body. This activity is the perfect warm-up for weightlifting, no matter which muscle group you’re training.
Best Lower Body Warm-Up Stretches
Deep Air Squats
Test out those squat-proof shorties and get your bootay all the way to the floor. Air squats are a quick way to warm up your entire lower body, from your hips to your feet. Start with slow, gentle movements, and then squat deeper to really engage those quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes.
Knee and Hip Circles
Your hips and knees don’t often get a lot of love in the stretching department, but they are an integral part of your weightlifting success. Warm up these joints with gentle knee and hip circles, focusing on a wide range of motion to maximize the stretch.
Warming up is about getting your muscles and joints ready for a weightlifting workout. But it’s also about getting your heart beating and blood pumping. High knees achieves both these goals. Start with a gentle jog in place, lifting your knees slightly, and work your way up to a fast pace, with your thighs parallel to the floor or higher.
Similar to high knees, butt kicks help warm up those hips, knees, and ankles. Pull your heel into your hamstring while jogging or running in place, focusing on a wide range of motion.
Ah, the walking lunge. It’s not just a movement designed to torture your quads. It’s also an effective warm-up for weightlifting. A slow, wide walking lunge helps loosen up your hips, encouraging a better range of motion when you start lifting. Lunges are also great for gently stretching your legs, increasing your heart rate, and engaging your quads and hamstrings before a full-fledged lifting routine.
Dynamic stretches are the best stretches for weightlifting warm-ups. Once your lifting sesh is over, though, you’ll want to cool down with deeper static stretches, which encourage blood flow and help relieve soreness.