Editors Note: This is a contribution from Sergeant Michael Volkin, best-selling author of military books and inventor of Strength Stack 52 bodyweight fitness cards.
It’s been three months, you’ve been hitting the gym routinely and you can’t see or feel any difference in your physique. So what you do is search the internet for some magical new workout routine that will help break this plateau; some possible workout secret that’s been posted to a blog that has somehow eluded you all these years. Stop what you’re doing now and pay attention. What I am about to show you may not seem exciting or interesting, but could be the one aspect standing between you and making progress in the gym.
I am about to say a word that you have heard before but haven’t really paid attention to. That word is stretching. I am not talking about the stretching your grandparents used to do; I am talking about dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching before a workout has many benefits such as increased flexibility and range of motion, improved cardiovascular capacity and core strength, and yes even increased strength and power. The static stretching you do is fine after a workout, but before a workout it actually has been proven to decrease muscle performance. On the other hand, dynamic stretching before a workout has been proven to improve muscle performance.
If you are an athlete, pretend to be one, or just want to look good in the mirror, it is essential that dynamic stretching be a part of your workout routine. Your workout should be divided into 4 phases:
Phase 1: Active warm-up (example: 5-10 minutes on an elliptical machine)
Phase 2: Dynamic stretch (example: use Tee Major’s excellent routine)
Phase 3: Workout routine
Phase 4: Static stretching
So let’s focus in on Phase 2. Ideally, a dynamic stretch routine should take about 10-15 minutes. However, there is no harm in taking 15 minutes or longer to do dynamic stretching. Tee Majors dynamic stretch routine describes many examples of exercises, but I’ll describe a couple below for you diehards who are on your way to the gym for a tough leg workout.
Monster walks Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping your knee straight, kick your left leg up reaching with your right arm out to meet it as you simultaneously take a step forward. As soon as your left foot touches the floor, take two steps and repeat the movement with your right leg and left arm. Alternate back and forth.
Spiderman with extension Drop into a push-up position with your hands under your shoulders. Drive your right foot up and place it flat on the ground outside your hand. Rock back onto the heel of your right foot and elevate your toes into the air. Walk your hands forward until you are back in a push up position and repeat on the opposite side.
There you have it, two quick examples of dynamic stretches you can incorporate in your workout routine today.
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