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updated: 1/24/2012 5:59 AM

Stretching helps prepare body for workouts

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  • Grab your leg just below the knee and pull as you continue to drive the knee upward for the high knee pull.

      Grab your leg just below the knee and pull as you continue to drive the knee upward for the high knee pull.

  • The lunge to twist stretches the upper and lower body at the same time.

      The lunge to twist stretches the upper and lower body at the same time.

  • The sumo squat to reach stretches out the whole body.

      The sumo squat to reach stretches out the whole body.

 

Performing dynamic stretching before your strength-training workout is a great way to prepare your body for the upcoming workload.

Dynamic stretching utilizes natural movements and doesn't put your joints into forced positions as static stretching sometimes can. This makes it a great option for a pre-workout warm-up. It can improve your natural range of motion and minimize your chance of getting injured through strength training.

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We recommend starting out with five minutes of light cardio -- walking, jogging, biking, elliptical or even jumping rope. This will slowly and safely increase your heart rate and blood pressure while getting your body into workout mode.

Our dynamic stretching routine consists of five stretches. Perform each dynamic stretch for 30 seconds before moving on to the next and complete the circuit all the way through. Repeat the entire circuit for two to three total rounds.

High knee pull. From a standing position, raise your right foot off the floor while bending your knee and driving it up toward your chest. Grab your leg just below the knee and pull as you continue to drive the knee upward. Let the leg drop back down as you step forward and repeat on the left.

Straight leg kicks. While standing upright, raise your arms out in front of you until they are parallel to the floor. Kick one leg forward and upward toward your hands until you feel a moderate stretch in your hamstring. Let your leg drop back to your starting point and step forward as you repeat with the other leg. Continue to keep both legs straight as you alternate kicks.

Squat spinners. Assume a squat position with feet shoulder-width apart. As you stand up pivot on your right foot 180 degrees and as you land your left foot, drop back into a squat. You should now be facing the opposite direction than when you began. Stand up and now pivot on your left foot 180 degrees and land on your right foot and drop immediately into a squat. Repeat.

Lunge to twist. Begin by grasping your hands together and raise your elbows until they're shoulder height. Your arms should be bent and parallel with the floor at this point. Step forward and drop into a lunge while stabilizing at the bottom. Twist your upper body to the right by leading with the right elbow and then twist to the left by leading with the left elbow. Step up out of the lunge and step forward with the opposite leg and perform the twist the same way. Repeat.

Sumo squat to reach. Assume a squat position with feet wider than shoulder-width apart and arms reached down toward the floor. As you stand up, reach toward the ceiling and rise up onto your toes. Control yourself back down into the squat as you again reach toward the floor. Repeat.

For a video of this workout, visit our blog at PushFitnessTraining.com.

Joshua Steckler and Mark Trapp are co-owners of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact them at PushFitnessTraining.com.

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