Let’s face it: Stretching isn’t the most glamorous part of fitness. Unless you’re doing yoga, your focus is most likely on the big workload at hand. In Strongman training, you’re going to be more focused on pulling that power sled or lifting that Atlas stone. While stretching might feel like a chore, it is an essential part of any serious lifting program. Stretching supports recovery, improves results, and necessitates sports injury prevention.
Let’s highlight the two types of stretching, when you should do them, and the best Strongman stretches for better recovery and results.
STATIC VS. DYNAMIC STRETCHING
There are two types of stretching: static and dynamic:
Static stretching is the type that you probably most associate with the act of stretching. The stretch is fixed in place and held for as little as ten seconds and as much as 60 seconds. A great example is when someone takes their arm across their chest and holds at the elbow in order to stretch the shoulder muscle.
Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, is active. This is when you perform an easy-going movement similar to the exercises to follow. For example, if you’re about to do a barbell back squat, a dynamic stretch would be performing bodyweight half squats.
WHEN SHOULD YOU STRETCH?
In order to maximize your Strongman performance, studies suggest performing dynamic stretches before your workout. While studies are conflicting, there is some evidence that static stretching before a workout can reduce strength and raw power output. Once your workout concludes, you can do static stretches.
You can even use some pieces of your Strongman equipment to help to accentuate the stretch. For example, some people use their lifting straps for a deeper stretch.
BEST STRONGMAN STRETCHES
Here is a list of the most beneficial dynamic and static stretches to help you prepare for the workout to come and support recovery afterward.
- Bodyweight Squats
Stand tall with chest up and look forward with a neutral gaze. Keep the core and hips engaged throughout as you bend your knees and drive your hips backward. Stop once your thighs become parallel with the ground. Pause then slowly return to the starting position. Remember to maintain a slight bend in the knee at all times.
Performing bodyweight squats before a few sets of barbell back squats? Check out our article on how to master the back squat for serious results.
- Twisting Bodyweight Lunges
Stand tall with chest up and look forward with a neutral gaze. Keep the core and hips engaged throughout as you step forward with the left foot. Bend the front knee to 90 degrees and let the back-knee dip towards the floor. Make sure that your toes on both feet face forward. Simultaneously, twist your upper body to the left. Remember to keep the chest up and core engaged. Face forward and push off the ground, returning to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
- High Knees
Stand tall with chest up and look forward with a neutral gaze. Keep the core and hips engaged as you bring your left knee up towards your chest as high as you can. Keep the right knee slightly bent as you lower the left knee and raise the right knee. Repeat by alternating knee lifts.
- Arm Circles
Stand tall with chest up and keep the core and hips engaged. Take your arms out to the sides of your body, forming a T-shape. With fingers pointed up, move your hands forward. Start with small circles and gradually increase size. Repeat going the opposite direction.
- Side-to-Side Twists
Stand tall with chest up and look forward with a neutral gaze. Leading with your elbows, twist your body to the right side. Make sure to engage your hips. Twist to the other side and continue alternating from side to side.
- Downward Dog
Starting from the top of a push-up, bend your knees while drawing your hips backward and toward the sky. Straighten the arms and legs. Create a straight line from the hands to the hips. Also, create a straight line from the hips to the feet. It will look like an inverted “V”. Push your heels toward the floor. You’ll feel the stretch throughout your back and legs.
- Seated Forward Stretch
Sit on the floor with your legs extended. Reach the arms overhead with your palms toward each other. Pull in your lower belly and draw the shoulder blades together. Press your thighs into the floor while bending forward from the hips over the legs. Grab the outside of the feet or shins. Tilt your pelvis forward and continue to lengthen the spine toward the feet.
- Standing Quadriceps Stretch
Holding on to a wall or chair for balance, stand tall and bring the left leg up behind you. Grab the left foot with the left hand. Keeping the knee down, gently pull and engage the stretch in the top of the leg. You’ll feel the stretch across your quadriceps. Repeat with the other leg.
- Wall Chest Stretch
Begin by facing a wall or doorway (or any form of stable support). Place your left hand against the edge of the doorway and begin to turn away to the right while keeping the left hand on the wall. Continue turning until you feel the stretch across your chest. Hold this for the prescribed amount of time then repeat on the other side.
- Seated Upper Back Stretch
Sit in a chair that has a firm and cushioned back for support. Place your hands behind your head then slowly begin to lean back. Be careful not to overextend. Stop leaning back once you feel the stretch in your back.
STRONGMAN STRETCHING ROUTINE
Try this Strongman stretching routine before and after each workout:
- Bodyweight Squats: 30 seconds
- Twisting Bodyweight Lunges: 30 seconds:
- High Knees: 30 seconds
- Arm Circles: 60 seconds
- Side-to-Side Twists: 30 seconds
- Downward Dog: 90 seconds
- Seated Forward Stretch: 60 seconds
- Standing Quadriceps Stretch: 60 seconds
- Wall Chest Stretch: 90 seconds
- Seated Upper Back Stretch: 60 seconds
WHICH STRONGMAN STRETCHES DO YOU USE?
Do you use any of the stretches above? Have your own stretching program? New to stretching and have questions? Let us know on Facebook!