It feels good to get in a great cardio work out. You might be missing one important fitness element — stretching.
If you’re one of the over 50% of Americans who love a good sweat session, you know how important it is to be in shape. Stretching before cardio is a step you can’t afford to skip if you want to perform your best.
Get the most out of your cardio session and do right by your body. Follow our guide to stretching exercises you need to do before you do any cardio activity.
Why is Stretching Before Cardio so Important?
No doubt you’ve seen popular stretching programs like yoga and Pilates. Those are great for building lean muscle and improving your range of motion, but they can also help with cardio activities like running, swimming, and more.
Stretching allows joints to move through their full range of motion. You’re less likely to injure yourself if you take a few minutes to stretch it out every day.
Beyond a morning stretch to wake your body up, stretching brings blood flow to your muscles. Doing stretches before working out gets rid of any lingering tightness from sitting or other long periods of inactivity.
Once you start stretching regularly, you’re going to notice improvements in your form and performance. Let’s look at how to bring this dynamic element to your workout.
Warm Up Before Stretching
Stretching is not a substitute for a warm up! While stretching will upgrade your cardio level, it should be considered its own thing and not part of your warm up.
Wake up your muscles with a light, brisk walk, jumping jacks, or knee-ups. Anything that gets the heart pumping and ups your circulation is perfect.
The Right Stretching Technique
Now that you’re warm, you want to practice dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching involves movement instead of the more typical static stretching, where you hold a pose.
Here are a few good options:
Knee to chest: Stand up and hug your knee to your chest. Lower and then repeat with the other knee.
Twist and lunge: Go into a standard lunge but once your knee is on the floor, add a twist at the waist
High kicks: Extend your arms and kick high, trying to touch your toes to your hands. This is great for your hamstrings and can be done either sitting or standing.
Add these to your workout routine and you’ll see a big difference. Now you instead of worrying about getting your form right you can instead read more about how to stick to your cardio routine.
Improve Your Cardio with a Stretching Routine
As you can see, stretching before cardio is the smart way to take your work out to the next level. Remember to practice good form, never bounce, and add some stretches to your post-cardio routine, too.
Staying in shape isn’t easy, but it can be rewarding and fun. If you’re looking for new and exciting ways to either improve your work out or find a new way to get fit, check out our other work out articles!