Stretching can be done both in a pre-workout (warm-up) and post-workout (cool down) fashion. Which you do is really up to you. Some athletes swear by the results they get in their performance and the lack of injury if they stretch before their workout. Others only stretch afterwards and, as you might expect, there are also those who stretch both before and after they work out. Research on what exactly you should be doing is pretty thin so here we are in the practical experience territory. Basically stretching should be part of your training. How you perform it however will depend on when you actually stretch: Pre-workout: If you're stretching before your workout begins remember that your muscles are not warmed up yet. Your stretching routine is designed to help them warm up so, no sharp, sudden moves. No forcing muscles to stretch beyond comfortable points. Do not use "bouncy" motion to force a stretch, that's how you normally get injuries. Do not manually manipulate your muscles (beat them with your fists, massage them or otherwise pull them) as you stretch. That will definitely lead to injuries so care and being sensible are both key here. Post-workout: If you're stretching after a workout your muscles are already warmed up. Stretching now actually uses the plasticity of the muscles to help you achieve flexibility gains. The trick here is to start slowly and build up. If you're stretching your hamstrings or your adductors (the inside of your thighs) now's the time to actually go a little bit further than before. Do it gradually but do push against your normal stretching limits. Gains you make here will stay with you after the session is over which means you will have increased your flexibility. The same words of caution that apply in the pre=workout stretch, also apply here. Always listen to your body and don't overstretch any muscle group. Tips: Stretching can increase the explosive power of your muscles because it increases their range of motion. It can also help prevent injuries by allowing muscles to warm up gradually when practiced as part of the warm-up. Always exhale slowly when you stretch a muscle group and inhale when you release it. 6 REASONS to start training: 1. Build yourself a smashing fit body - because there is no greater feeling than looking in the mirror and simply just love what you see. 2. Brag around about your toned muscles - low body fat level, noticeable muscle definition and shape, but not significant muscle size 3. Keep your heart strong and healthy - because your heart is a muscle also and it gets stronger and healthier if you live an active life. 4. A clear and beautiful glowing skin - you don't have to worry anymore about cellulite when you're half naked on the beach. No more dimply skin coming out of your swimsuit. 5. Reduce stress, anxiety and fight depression - regular training is the key for your head just as it is for your heart and will relax you, making you calmer, fighting depression and dissipate stress. 6. A happier soul and a bigger smile - you will feel that you are finally doing something for yourself. BONUS: Improve your live life! you know exercise is good for you, but do you know how goof? It boots your energy and improves your mood and exercising regularly puts the spark back into your love life.
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