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Regardless of how physically active we may be, for most of us our desk jobs and lifestyles leave us with hunched shoulders and a tight sunken chest. For those of us who are on a balanced strength training plan, we are likely working as hard on our upper body as we are on our lower body. But when stretching, we may find that we tend to neglect our upper body.
Stretching your upper body has several important benefits. It increases range of motion, which in turn helps you gain muscle strength. It also helps improve posture and reduce muscle pains that can occur due to office work. Finally, stretching regularly can help reduce chance of injury to the upper body.
Let’s have a look at some of the best upper body stretches for chest, shoulders, arms and back. Some of these can be done anywhere while for others you’ll need an exercise ball.
1) Back Roll on the Ball
Lie on your back on top of the exercise ball with feet on the ground and arms stretching overhead. The ball should completely support your lower back between the gluteal muscles and the shoulder blades. This move offers an excellent stretch for your abdominal muscles as well as your chest.
2) Chest Stretch on the Ball
Lying on top of the ball, roll the ball further up your spine so that it is supporting you directly beneath the shoulder blades. Allow your neck to relax backward to support your head on the ball. Now hold your arms out straight to your sides and allow your shoulders to relax downward to get a full stretch through the chest.
3) Kneeling Twist with Ball
Kneel on the floor with your butt on your heels and bend forward, arms outstretched. Place your palms on the exercise ball. Rotate the ball toward the right until you feel a deep stretch in your left side, stabilizing with your left hip. Hold for a few moments and then do the same movement rotating toward the left. This exercise will stretch your back and shoulder muscles.
4) Side Lying Stretch on the Ball
Lie on your side on the exercise ball with lower leg slightly in front of top leg. Your bottom leg can also be placed on the floor if this helps with balance. Stretch the top arm upward with the lower arm resting over the ball, and adjust until you feel a good stretch through the side of your body. Switch sides to stretch the opposite side of the body.
5) Biceps Stretch Against Wall
It can be tough to effectively stretch the biceps, but the wall stretch definitely hits those muscles where almost no other stretch does! Place your hand behind you on a wall with arm straightened and fingers pointing away from you perpendicular to your body. Turn your body away from the wall until you feel an intense stretch through the bicep and hold. Repeat on the opposite side.
6) Chest and Biceps Doorway Stretch
Stand directly in the middle of a doorway with hands gripping the inside of the doorway on each side. Slowly and gently lean forward with both feet firmly planted on the ground until you feel a stretch and hold for at least 15 – 30 seconds. This movement stretches the chest, shoulders and biceps.
7) Tricep Stretch with a Towel
Most of us are familiar with the basic tricep stretch, but adding in a towel can increase the range of motion and effectiveness of this move. Hold a towel in the hand of the arm being stretched, and place your arm behind your head with elbow pointing toward the ceiling and hand at the back of the neck between your shoulders. Allow the towel to hang down your back. With the opposite hand, grab the towel behind you and pull down. Repeat on opposite arm.
At Athlean-XX for Women we recognize the importance of stretching, especially after our challenging and super effective 30 minute circuit training workouts. At the beginning of each 30 minute session there is a 5 minute warm up before and a brief stretch afterward. We encourage you to care for your body by performing extra stretches. Additionally if you work an office job, consider doing these movements periodically throughout the day to ensure that your upper body does not grow tight from sitting and typing.
Curious about the concept of training just 30 minutes per day? Our Athlean-XX for Women workouts are fast paced so that you’re reaping both strength training and cardio benefits with each workout. With Athlean-XX for Women, 30 minutes per day really is all you need! Want to see what 30 minutes per day can accomplish? Check out our amazing SuXXess Stories! Will you be NeXXT? Join us on Team Athlean today to start YOUR transformation!
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