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Still doing that 5 minute stretch BEFORE your workouts?  STOP!  New research is confirming what we’ve known here at Athlean for a long time:  pre-workout static stretching can hinder your progress and shortchange your strength gains.  What does this mean?  It can keep you from getting as lean and athletic as you deserve to be!   Athlean creator Jeff Cavaliere has dedicated a video to debunking the pre-workout stretching myth on the men’s blog.

Busting this stretching myth is just as important for women, because we’ve been taught by group exercise instructors (and maybe even by our personal trainers) that stretching is the best way to warm up.  It turns out that there’s a much better way to warm up AND a better time to stretch!

Let’s have a look at the new research that shows why stretching before you exercise can actually be harmful.  We’ll also discuss the best warmup and when to include stretching in your routine.


Two recent studies reviewed in the New York Times demonstrate that pre-workout stretching can actually reduce the effectiveness of your workouts.  A recent study conducted by researchers at Austin State University showed that stretching before a strength training workout decreased participants’ stability and left them feeling weaker.  In another comprehensive Croatian study, static pre-workout stretching negatively affected strength, power and explosive performance.

More research remains to be done to show why stretching before workouts may have these negative effects.  But what do these findings mean for you?  To put it in simple terms:  If you stretch before your strength workouts, you could be making yourself weaker.

If you’ve ever stretched heavily right before a workout, you may even have felt these effects: muscle pain during some exercises, getting tired more quickly during the workout or finding that you’re not able to lift as heavy of weights if you stretch in advance.

If you’re still stretching pre-workout, we at Athlean-XX for Women recommend you switch strategies.  Read on to find out what we believe is the BEST type of warm up and the BEST time to stretch!

stretch after workoutA BETTER PRE-WORKOUT WARM UP

While static stretching may not be the way to go, warming up is still extremely important to prepare the body for exercise and prevent injury.  In our Athlean-XX for Women program we practice dynamic warm ups, which are comprised of active movements to prepare the body for the specific workout you’ll be doing.

We begin all of our Athlean-XX for Women DVD workouts with short warm up sessions.  For example, on our glutes DVD, we start with some typical aerobic movements like marching, step touching and step curling, to get blood flow going in the legs and throughout the body.  These are followed by some un-weighted versions of some of the exercises we’ll be performing later in the workout, like squats and lunges.  These movements warm up the gluteal muscles for the more difficult movements to come in the workout.



While stretching post workout isn’t great for building strength, stretching is still very important to your fitness.  When is the best time to stretch?

Right after your workout is a great time to perform some light static stretches.  During your strength training workouts, your muscles are repeatedly contracting (getting tighter), so a post-workout stretch helps you to retain and improve flexibility as you gain strength.

A bit of light stretching on rest days, similar to what we do in our Athlean-XX for Women X-Hale DVD will also help to move blood through the muscles and improve muscle recovery.


stretching mistake workoutTHE TAKEAWAY

Please DON’T stretch before your workouts!  Instead, begin your workouts with some movement that gets blood flowing to the specific muscles you’ll be exercising.  When you complete your workout, take 5 minutes to stretch out your muscles to make sure you stay flexible.

If you’re looking for a fitness program that incorporates all the best science to help you sculpt the leanest and most athletic body possible, Athlean-XX for Women is for you.  Our workouts are short but super effective, at just 30 minutes per day!  They can be done either at home or at the gym.  The included nutrition plan actually encourages you to eat MORE, and ensures that your metabolism is burning fast and strong all day!  Come find out why so many women have joined Team Athlean and are getting in the best shape of their lives!

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