How much of your workout do you spend stretching? Maybe a couple of minutes at the end, or perhaps just a few leg-swings before you start a run. It seems the benefits of stretching still seem to be lost on us, despite the fact that recent research has shown that as many as 45% of us have experienced a gym injury – or #gymjury – at some point in our lives.
We’ve all heard the importance of maintaining good form by this point (if not we haven’t been saying it enough), and good form cannot come without good mobility. A body’s ability to handle stress (from weights or from life) is greatly improved with greater mobility, a greater range of motion, better posture, and better form. All of which comes from spending a solid chunk of time on some proper stretches.
Before or after the workout?
The answer is, ideally, both. But the stretches you perform before you start your workout will be significantly different from those you perform once you’ve finished.
Dynamic stretches before exercise
Dynamic stretches consist of movements with a progressive range of motion, usually simulating the movements you will be doing in your workout. Whether this is leg-swings before a football match or light bar dislocates before you do some snatches.
The simplest way to adapt this to the gym is to perform your first set without any weights. Just using the bar will allow your various muscle groups to stretch and warm up, increasing their range of motion and preparing them for the upcoming movement. You may even notice an injury or stiffness that you weren’t aware of, especially when performing new or unfamiliar movements.
Static stretches after exercise
Static stretches are those that are performed statically… duh. These are best done after your workout, allowing you time to let your muscles lengthen properly and increase your flexibility in the specific muscle. This also allows you the time to let your body cool down naturally, rather than jumping into a cold shower and dashing off to work/drinks/Netflix.
Deep tissue/sports massages
Despite our best intentions, when hard-pressed for time in the gym, stretching is going to be the first thing that gets sacrificed. So after a long period of exercise without adequate stretching, you’re bound to feel stiff… and not in a good way. If you really can’t spare the time to do some proper stretches after your workouts, then getting regular massages may be the next best thing. However, keep in mind that deep tissue massages and sports massages hurt like a muthaf£$ker!
So maybe give yourself 10 extra minutes to save you some hurt further down the line.
Gay Personal Trainers
If you would still like some extra help in improving your mobility and flexibility, you might benefit from working with a gay personal trainer. They can design a training and nutrition program to suit your individual needs, and be on hand to help coach you towards your goals.
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Gay Fitness Challenge 2018
If you’d like to feel a little more confident in the gym, why not sign up for our next Gay Fitness Challenge? Work towards your own goal, with a training and nutrition program specially designed for you. You can train alone or take part in gay group exercise classes, and you’ll have the support of fellow gay guys who are going through the same thing you are.
Choose to either start now and get ready for the Christmas party season or book your place for January and enjoy a guilt-free season.