Did you know that a dynamicfull body stretching routine post workout can help you burn more fat and get fit faster? A dynamic flexibility routine reduces cortisol levels that build up during a workout (yes the same stress hormone that causes stubborn belly fat).
So stretching after fatloss workouts boosts post workout fat burn (also called after burn or metabolic effect). It also improves range of motion so you can get busy with all the best fat burning exercises. In addition to this a regular stretching routine reduces muscle soreness, prevents injuries, and is key to sculpting a lean toned look vs. a bulky bodybuilder look.
The easy answer to the question of what stretches to do and for how long is to spend about 5-10 minutes post workout stretching your problem areas. This means focusing on stretches that improve flexibility in areas of your body that tend to get very tight and limit range of motion during your fatloss workouts.
Find a combination of stretches that complement each other and that work together to increase flexibility quickly. A good stretching routine should work quickly and you should be able to see and feel the difference right away. Instead of wasting time holding boring stretches which is what most people do, start with some dynamic flexibility.
Perform dynamic stretching and active stretching (contracting opposing muscles as you breathe short shallow breaths) then after you feel some release hold a static stretch for 15-30 seconds and move on to the next stretch.
When you combine these three types of stretching you will get release and see visible improvements in flexibility almost instantly. Check out the video here for a quick example of the stretches picture above.
Does your flexibility stink? Do you find stretching boring? Do you get impatient when doing your stretchingexercises? Here's a few things that can help.
2. Play relaxing music that helps you breath and calm down. I love Buddha Bar III. Or buy a good set of yoga stretching DVDs. I use 4 different sets of Shiva Rea dvds (featured in videos below).
3. Use powerful visualizations techniques such as the Franklin Method: Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery. Franklin teaches some killer imagery in his books that include visualizing waterfalls, squeezing water from a sponge, butter melting, etc. Sounds weird but it works!
4. Try various breathing techniques including short shallow breaths, deeper breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly or exhaling like a snake or a fire breathing dragon. There are so many ways to breathe that can help you relax into a deeper stretch so don't be afraid to experiment.
5. Don't compete! The point is to improve your flexibility not to be more flexible than somebody else or to acquire contortionist type flexibility. If your goal is to be hyper flexible you'll need more advanced stretching techniques to get you there.
A longer yoga flow like the 40 minute practice I'm doing in the 2 videos below may be a good fit for you if you tend to suffer from pain syndromes due to poor posture, or desk job, or old injuries that never healed properly.
It's also great if you have a very stressful job/life that creates a lot of tension in your body. Just one longer yoga flow practice per week can make a huge difference in both performance and endurance during all your fatloss workouts.
I generally have to do at least one 40-90 minute advanced yoga stretching session each week because of old injuries and long hours working online but also because I happen to be very flexible and my body isn't happy unless it gets some intense stretching regularly.
If you don't enjoy stretching that much then 5-10 minutes a day every day can have the same benefit and the results build up over time so try not to skip your stretching after a fatloss workout.