Did you know that dynamic stretching exercises can help you burn more fat and get fit faster? A good stretching routine reduces cortisol levels that build up during a workout (yes the same stress hormone that causes stubborn belly fat).
Stretching after a fatloss workout 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 fatloss exercises and workouts including more advanced and challenging movement patterns.
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 muscular build.
What Stretching Exercises to Do & For How Long
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 then move on to active stretching (contracting opposing muscles as you breathe short shallow breaths) then hold a static stretch until you feel release. 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.
Stretching Routine Tips, Tricks & Gear
Does your flexibility stink? Do you find stretching boring? Do you get impatient when doing your stretching exercises? Here's a few things that can help.
1. Use props like foam rollers, thera bands, straps, and balls to keep things interesting and boost range of motion quickly. Check out the video here to see how.
2. Play relaxing music that helps you breath and calm down. I love Buddha Bar. Or buy a good set of yoga stretching DVDs. I use 4 different sets of Shiva Rea DVDs.
3. Use powerful visualizations or what Eric Franklin creator of the Franklin Method calls 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. Don't compete! The point is to improve your flexibility not to be more flexible than somebody else.
5. Try short shallow breath during dynamic and active stretching but deeper breaths during static stretching. I learned this from Pavel Tsatsouline author of Beyond Stretching and Relax Into Stretch.
When to Incorporate A Longer Yoga Stretching Routine
A longer yoga stretching workout like the 40 minute practice I'm doing in the 2 videos here may be a good fit for you if you tend to suffer from pain syndromes due to poor posture, desk job, old injuries that never healed properly, or you have a very stressful job/life that creates a lot of tension in your body.
Just one longer yoga stretching routine per week can make a huge difference in both performance and endurance during all your other 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.