Ask the trainer: When to stretch?

Question: Hi Ryan, I would like to know if it is better to stretch before or after I work out. People tell me different things and it can be very confusing. Thanks for your help.

Answer: The proper order of exercise, especially when it comes to stretching is one of those topics where you can ask 10 people and get 10 different answers. While I will answer your question, I will also try to answer the larger order of how to combine all of the different training modalities.

Warm up– When we work out, it is always important to warm up. The warm up can be a light jog or performing specific exercises or movments slowly or with little resistence. The idea is to get the body lose and the blood flowing in preparation for the intense exercise. Working out cold can sometimes lead to injury.

Resistence training– Resistence or strength training should be the first thing you do after the warmup if you are planning on it. The energy stores and muscle fiber types needed for resistence training will be the first to go so it’s important that if you are going to strength train that you do it first as you will likely not have as much energy later.

Cardiovascular training– Cardiovascular training relies primiraly on oxygen so it should always be done after your strength training. Some people prefer to do it first and while this is fine, it will take away from the energy needed for the workout.

Flexibility– Flexibility, or stretching should always be saved for the end of the work out unless there is a specific injury or severe tightnedd which needs work on prior to a workout. Stretching prior to a workout can interfere with the neuromuscular system and can cause the muscles to work in a less than efficient manner.

Cooldown– A cooldoen should always be done at the end of a workout. A stretch can be a way of cooling down but if you chose not to stretch, it is important to do something which will serve to cool the body down, rather than to stop

In home fitness training tip of the week

Every week I will be posting useful and interesting ideas for those who prefer at home fitness training to working out at a gym. These tips range will range from what equipment to buy to little things I’ve learned over the years.

This weeks tip: use an ottoman as a bench and storage. I train a couple and they live in a studio apartment. While they have a pair of bowflex dumbbells, there is not enough space to have a lot of fitness equipment. They came up with a brilliant idea to use a storage ottoman. It serves multiple purposes. In addition to it’s normal function, it is used to store fitness equipment when not in use and can be used as a bench for dumbbell presses, dips and tons of other exercises.

Exercise of the week: abdominal kick up

The abdominal Kick up is a great exercise to work the core.

Muscles used
Primary: rectus abdominus, obliques.
Secondary: erector spinae, pectoralis

Start: to start lie on your back and with your knees fully extended, raise your feet so that your hips are bent at 90 degrees. Your arms should be flat on the floor and should be used to counter balance the movement.

Movement: begin by pressing your arms into the floor and lift your hips off of the ground. Beginners should only Lift a couple of inches off but more advanced people can lift up to a foot off of the ground. Once you reach the top of the movement, pause and hold for a second. Finally, lower yourself slowly back to the starting position.

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