Sticking with the theme from my last post, we’re building a solid foundation with a thorough stretching and warm-up routine to prevent any kind of injuries during our workouts. In the last post, we learned some efficient / basic stretches for our back, hips, and legs; today we’re learning some effective stretches for our chests, shoulders, biceps, and triceps.
Pectoralis Major and Minor (Chest Muscles) and Biceps
This stretch is one that I use before every chest workout and even when I’m just feeling stiff the day after. For this stretch you’re going to need a stationary object such as a door frame or even the lifting rig you’re using to “pump some iron.” Start by fully extending your arm and placing your hand on either the door frame or the rig. While keeping your arm extended but not completely locked out, turn the opposite direction of the arm you’re stretching until you feel tension in your chest (Pectoralis Major/Minor), biceps, and shoulder muscles (deltoids). Do not pull too hard or hyperextend your shoulder. Hold the stretch until you feel your muscles begin to relax and add or relieve tension every ten to fifteen seconds, holding the stretch for thirty to forty seconds on each side. Repeat with your opposite arm.
The second stretch for our chest and shoulders is a little more advanced and will require some flexibility to perform completely. But, if you practice and use this stretch on a regular basis you can greatly increase your chest and shoulder flexibility; which will definitely help later on when we start talking about Olympic lifting and Crossfit movements. For this stretch you’re going to need something resembling a bar. I usually use a piece of PVC pipe about five feet long, but a broom handle or wooden dowel works just as well. We start with the bar in front of us at our waist, your hands should be placed about a foot wider than shoulder width. Next, we raise the bar slowly over our head, keeping your arms fully extended and SLOWLY moving the bar further and further behind our heads until you feel tension in your chest and shoulders. Once again, do not hyperextend your shoulders or pull a muscle; only do as much as your body allows. Hold the stretch for ten to fifteen seconds and relax by lowering the bar back to your waist. Perform the stretch until the muscles in your chest and shoulders are relaxed and limber. The fully advanced form of this movement will eventually involve you rotating your shoulders all the way around behind you to the backside of your waist, and back around to your front. Again, it will take some practice and flexibility to perform the full version of this stretch, so keep at it!
Deltoid (shoulder muscles) and Tricep stretches
For this one, we’re stretching out our shoulders (deltoids) and our necks. First start by placing one hand behind your back with the back of your hand resting in the small of your back. Next, reach around with your opposite hand and take hold of your wrist and pull the opposite direction of the arm you’re stretching. To stretch your neck at the same time, simply tilt your head to the opposite direction of the arm you’re stretching. Hold tension for ten to fifteen seconds at a time then release and adding tension again, holding the stretch for thirty to forty seconds on each side. Repeat the stretch on your opposite arm.
The last stretches for today are going to focus on our triceps. For this stretch, you’re going to start much like the “Atta-Boy stretch” from my last post. Begin with your arm fully extended above your head and then drop your hand back toward your shoulder. Using your opposite hand take hold of your elbow and pull backwards, NOT TO THE SIDE! We’re stretching our triceps, not our lats. You should feel tension only in your triceps and maybe a little in your rear deltoids. Like the rest of our stretches, hold tension for ten to fifteen seconds at a time and then release, performing each stretch for thirty to forty seconds on each side. For a more advanced version of this stretch, you’ll need an exercise band and a sturdy pull-up bar. Throw one end of the band over the bar and loop it inside of itself. Place the very end of one elbow inside the band and drop your hand back toward your shoulder just like the original form of the stretch. Instead of using your opposite hand to apply tension, walk forward and let the band apply tension by pulling back on your arm, you should feel tension in your triceps, deltoid, and lat.
Be sure to always stretch thoroughly before and after every workout. Even on your “off” days, stretch when you’re sore or just feeling stiff. Muscle stiffness, soreness, tightness, and pain can often be prevented and relieved with a thorough stretching and warm up/down regimen that focuses on the major and minor muscle groups you’ve worked that day.
Enjoy your morning coffee in our “official” Crow’s Nest coffee cup!