Workout Tips for Men: The Benefits of a Good Stretch

Man stetchingWait! Before you grab those weights or start your next run, have you stopped to stretch first?

The benefits of stretching for men are plenty. Not only does it provide a “feel good” moment for tired and tense muscles, but stretching can help:

  • Improve your body’s circulation.
  • Increase range of motion and joint flexibility.
  • Enhance your ability to improve your workout stamina.
  • Decrease risk of injury during your workout.
  • Improve balance and posture.

For most guys, the muscles that have the ability to tense up the most include the pecs, hip flexors, lats and traps. For these areas to stay lean, flexible and injury-free, stretching is critical.

Stretching 101

Whether you’re a bodybuilder, runner, swimmer, or simply trying to keep in shape, you should include stretching in your workout routine. There are many types of stretching techniques to try; the two most popular types can be characterized as static (holding a position) and dynamic (involving rapid movements).

The Warm-Up

Stretching muscles, prior to working out, can help reduce the risk of muscle cramps and pulled muscles. For a good warm-up, it’s recommended you engage in a low-intensity activity for five minutes, such as walking while working your arms. If stretching individual “problem area” muscles, try to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. Avoid bouncing or pulling while stretching, however, as this can set the stage for injury to muscles and joints. Make sure your stretching works both sides of the body; this will help improve your range of motion and flexibility.

A Few Stretches to Try

Major muscles to stretch include:

  • Quadriceps and hamstrings
  • Back and hips
  • Arms and shoulders

Men’s Journal offers “17 Stretches Every Man Should Know.”

Don’t Forget to Breathe!

As you work out, focusing on deliberate breaths can help improve results. That’s because as you work out, muscles increase their demand for oxygen. Keep in mind, the intense physicality behind exercises such as weightlifting, running and swimming can increase the body’s tendency to take shallow, quick breaths. The deeper and slower your breathing, the more oxygen can move into the muscles and provide energy for better workouts. This can also help flush out toxins such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid from your muscles, and help to lower blood pressure as well.

The Cool-Down

Just as important as the warm-up is the cool-down. Stretching can help improve the body’s chance for recuperation, especially after an intense workout. In turn, you can properly help your muscles gradually relax while safely bringing your heart rate down.

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