Andy Speer, a certified personal trainer at Equinox, put together five key stretches that will have you looking, feeling, and performing better. These stretches are designed to be done after appropriate soft tissue work (like foam rolling) and before your warmup. The idea is to increase tissue quality for stretching and then actively move the joints through the new range of motion after stretching. “The strongest guys and best athletes in the world do this stuff,” Speer says. Pec Stretch Most guys have tight internal rotator (pecs and lats) which leads to that ‘hunched over look.' Both the pec and lat stretch are critical for establishing proper posture during lifting and throughout the day.
- Loop a resistance band around an object above head height and grab both ends with one hand. (Find a height so your arm is at about 45 degrees from your body.)
- Step out and away from the band so there is tension with a straight arm.
- Push your chest up and out and slowly turn your body away from your hand. You should feel a stretch across your pec and into your front deltoid (front of your shoulder).
- Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.
- Use the same band setup as the pec stretch but this time face the band.
- Grab it with one hand, step back away from the band, with a straight arm and neutral spine pull your hips away and lower your chest to the floor. You should feel a stretch from your tricep through your armpit to your lats.
- Hold for 30 seconds each arm.
Halo This is not exactly a static stretch, but it is very important in developing shoulder mobility and firing the rotator before an upper body lift.
- You can use a small plate (10-25 lbs) or a kettlebell for this one.
- Stand holding the plate by the outside edges (or use a kettlebell) in front of your chest. Your shoulders should feel relaxed.
- Wrap the weight around your head, making a "halo.” When the weight is behind your head, let it gently pull your arms down opening the chest and stretching the lats.
- Do 10 rotations in each direction.
Half-kneeing hip flexor stretch Most people have tight hip flexors, and sitting at a desk all day only adds to the problem. Stretching hip flexors will not only help increase your squat depth on lower body days, but it will help you posture and decrease likely hood of low back pain.
- Start in a half kneeling position, place one foot on the floor in front of you and the other knee on the floor directly under you hip. (Use and mat or towel under the knee if needed.)
- With your torso straight and erect push your hips forward. You should feel a stretch in the front of your back leg closer to your hip than your knee.
- Hold for about 30 seconds
TIP: Slightly tense up your abs while performing the stretch. Tensing the abs helps keep your lower back from arching too much, which reduces the stretch on the hip flexors, mainly the psoas.
Hip external rotator stretch Most guys have HIRD (Hip Internal Rotation Deficit), which leads to problems when trying to hit those deep squats.
- Lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Place you feet just outside the hips and pull your knees together.
- You won't feel the traditional "stretching" sensation, but you should feel a pull on the outside of your thighs.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then move you feet out another inch and hold for another 30 seconds.