7 Flexibility Exercises


a man performing a flexibility exercise that stretches his abductor and hamstring muscles

All exercise sessions should be comprised of four distinct phases: phase 1) warm-up; phase 2) main session; phase 3) cool-down; phase 4) flexibility (or stretching). If asked which phases are the most important and why, few people would point to phases 1 and 4.


The majority of trainers believe that the main session – that bit where most of the action takes place – is miles more important and that those other phases are mere fluff, or superfluous filling. This is incorrect.


The most important phase of any exercise session is the warm-up – because it significantly reduces injury during training – and flexibility – as it reduces injury post-training. So, any training worth its salt, will begin with a warm-up and conclude with a stretch.


For more on the importance of warming up (and cooling down) and best exercise ideas, follow the link below.


Benefits of Warm-ups and Cool-downs

In this article you will receive a tutorial of 7 flexibility exercises that you can use at the end of your training session. The 7 flexibility exercises selected target large muscle groups thus broadening the range of muscle stretched.


How to approach the flexibility exercises

It is advisable to approach the stretches systematically starting with the upper body limbs and progressively working down to the lower limbs. By following this simple routine you will be less likely to omit a stretch and your will finish off in a relaxed position.


How to perform the flexibility exercises

It would be an unnecessary digression to go into the numerous different types of stretching. But for the purposes of this article it is worth mentioning that post-exercise stretches are called ‘developmental stretches’ as they are performed to improve the flexibility in a muscle and thus increase the range of movement (ROM) around a joint.


Developmental stretches exhibit three key characteristics. 1) The duration of the stretch should exceed 20-seconds – between 30-seconds and 1-minute is preferable. 2) The stretch should be performed in sets – 30-seconds applied followed by 10-seconds rest, repeat three times. 3) The stretch should be applied with care and no pain or discomfort should be experienced at any point.



Flexibility Exercise #1: Shoulder Stretch

a man performing a flexibility exercise that stretches his shoulder and upper back muscles

To perform this stretch hold the arm across the body as demonstrated in the picture. The arm being stretched should run parallel to the floor. Use the other arm to support it in this position.


Main areas stretched: Shoulder and trapezius.


Other: Posterior deltoid, middle + lower trapezius, rhomboids and latissimus dorsi.


Apply the stretch twice on each arm for 30 seconds.


Total stretch time = 2 minutes



Flexibility Exercise #2: Bicep and Chest Stretch

a man performing a flexibility exercise that stretches his chest and bicep muscles

To apply this stretch stand side on to a wall and place the hand of the arm to be stretched behind you. The arm should be pressing against the wall and running parallel to the floor.


Main areas stretched: Chest and bicep.


Other: Anterior deltoid.


Apply the stretch twice on each arm for 30 seconds.


Total stretch time = 2 minutes








Flexibility Exercise #3: Back Stretch

a man performing a flexibility exercise that stretches his back muscles

To perform this stretch stand with feet shoulder width apart, place the hands out in front with one clasped over the other. Keeping the arms slightly bent push the hands away from the body rounding the back as you do so.


Main areas stretched: Trapezius and latissimus dorsi.


Other: Rhomboids teres major and minor.


Apply the stretch twice for 30 seconds each set.


Total stretch time = 1 minute













Flexibility Exercise #4: Quadriceps Stretch

a man performing a flexibility exercise that stretches his quadriceps muscles

To perform this stretch grasp onto the foot of the leg that is to be stretched. If you struggle to maintain your balance throughout, either lay off the vodka, or use the other hand – the one that’s not holding the leg – to stabilise yourself. Both knees should be directly inline and the supporting leg must remain bent. To apply the stretch ease the hips forwards.


Main area stretched: Quadriceps.


Other: Vastus intermedius, rectus femoris, psoas major, middle and upper sartorius and gluteus medius.


Perform two sets of the 30 seconds each on both legs.


Total stretch time = 2 minutes




















Flexibility Exercise #5: Abdominal Stretch

a man performing a flexibility exercise that stretches his abdominal muscles

Firstly, to apply this stretch you need to adopt the prone position: lie face down on a soft training mat. Place the hands and forearms on the mat either side of your face. Slowly extend the arms so that the abdominals have been raised off the floor. When you feel a mild stretch running along the length of the abs hold the position. To increase the stretch, look up to the ceiling.


Main areas stretched: Rectus abdominus and external oblique.


Other: Internal oblique, quadratus lumborum, psoas major, iliacus, rotators and intertransversarii.


Apply the stretch twice for 30 seconds per set.


Total stretch time = 1 minute



Flexibility Exercise #6: Seated Hamstring Stretch

a man performing a flexibility exercise that stretches his hamstring muscles

Before attempting to apply this stretch sit on a soft mat – relax and be at peace with the world. The feet should remain pressed together during the stretch and the toes must point directly up to the ceiling. Place the hands on the shins and slowly ease forward until you feel a mild sensation running down the back of the legs – do not round the back in this position.


Main area stretched: Hamstrings.


Other: Semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris, gluteus maximus, gastrocnemius, lower erector spinae.


Apply the stretch twice for 30 seconds each set.


Total stretch time = 1 minute



Flexibility Exercise #7: Seated Splits

a man performing a flexibility exercise that stretches his adductor and hamstring muscles

Again, sit on soft mat. Spread the legs open until you can feel a mild stretch creep into the hamstrings. The toes should be pointing up towards the ceiling and the back must remain straight throughout. Place the hands on the floor and slowly rotate the pelvis forward – to further apply the stretch you can also lean forward.


Main areas stretched: Hamstring and adductors.


Other: Semitendinosus, semimembranosus, gracilis, adductor magnus and longus, gluteus maximus, lower erector spinae, lower latissimus dorsi, medial side of soleus, medial and lateral head of gastrocnemius.


Apply this stretch twice for 30 seconds each set.


Total stretch time = 1 minute



Conclusion

Completing this stretching plan will cost you only 10-minutes of your time which, I think you’ll agree, is a small price to pay for a reduction in post-exercise injury susceptibility.


It is advisable to form the habit of working through the 7 flexibility exercises at the end of every training session.



(As we are very interested in user experience here at Hungry4Fitness, we would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance!)



Blog Author

Adam Priest, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All