Stretch Exercises for Weight Training
Stretch exercises are exercises that are designed to increase the flexibility of your muscles by elongating them.
While they are not weight training exercises per se they should be allowed into your workout regiment because they have been shown to decrease the risk of injuries associated with physical activity.
There is considerable debate raging today as to whether stretch exercises are more effective when conducted before working out with weight training exercises of afterwards. The former side argues that it is essential to stretch beforehand in order to loosen the muscles and their tendons while the latter side argues that stretching before working out actually results in small tears in the muscle tissues which in turn increases the chance of injuries. They argue that stretch exercises are most effective when performed after working out, in the cool down period.
Whenever you decide to do them (before or after), here are some key points to remember for effective stretching:
Always warm up before stretching
If you are stretching before exercising make sure to loosen or warmup your muscles beforehand a little. This warm up period will result in your muscles being properly prepared for their small elongations and will reduce the risk of small tears in your muscle tissues from developing.
Slowly increase your stretch and hold for 10 seconds minimum
It is very important never to bounce or abruptly stretch your muscles while stretching. Rather it is recommended to slowly increase the pressure on your muscles and to hold the stretch for a minimum of 10 seconds before letting go.
Never hold a painful stretch
Stretch exercises are not designed to be painful. Quite simply, if you are stretching a muscle and the process hurts it means you are not doing it correctly or that your muscle is not properly disposed.