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By: Heather Marr

Heather Marr is an N.Y.C.-based personal trainer and The Model Trainer Method creator, whose A-list client roster includes some of the world’s most famous supermodels. Ahead, she shares why it’s important to do dynamic stretches before working out.

Warming up before a workout is critical in optimizing performance and preparing mentally for the activity ahead. In recent years however, there has been a shift in the fitness industry for how best to approach this. Although still a hot topic, a light cardio warm up accompanied by dynamic stretching has replaced traditional static stretching pre-workout in many cases.

Static stretching simply means moving a muscle to the end of its range of motion. Here it is held for a set period of time to help increase overall flexibility. Dynamic stretching is simply active movements of muscle to move joints through their full range of motion. Unlike static stretches, dynamic movements are not held in position. As with anything in life, the timing of your type of stretches to perform is everything. Static stretching pre-workout may negatively affect your training, potentially decreasing strength, power and explosiveness.

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Dynamic stretches, on the other hand, pre-workout may improve performance including speed, agility, acceleration and strength. This makes it the ideal choice to get both your body and mind ready for the workload ahead. 

Why You Should Start Doing Dynamic Stretches Before Your Workout

Below are 3 dynamic stretches you may want to incorporate into your next warm-up.

1. Leg Swings

Begin in a standing position and slowly raise your left leg off of the ground. In a controlled motion, swing your left leg in front of you as high as you are able and then back behind you. You will take the movement through your full range of motion for several minutes. Once completed, repeat the stretch on your right leg. 

2. Walking Lunges

Step forward with your left foot and lower your right knee until it is nearly touching the ground. Pushing through the heel of your foot, step your right leg forward, passing the left foot and landing far in front of you. Perform these lunges with body weight for several minutes.

3. Inch Worm

Begin standing with your feet hip width apart. Place your hands on the floor in front of you by hinging at the hips. Walk your hands forward until your hands are below your shoulders and you are in a full high plank position. Slowly walk your hands back towards your feet until you are in the upright standing position. Perform these movements for several minutes.

While static stretches may not necessarily be the ideal choice pre-workout, they are suited perfectly to be a part of your cool down routine. Here your body is already warm from your workout with increased blood flow to the muscle tissues. This makes the cool down period post-workout, a prime time for static stretching. 

Below are 3 static stretches that you may want to incorporate into your cool down routine.

1. Lunging Psoas Stretch

Begin in a lunge position with your left knee on the ground. Your right knee will be bent with your right foot on the ground in front of you. Move your hips as far forward as you are able ensuring your left knee stays in place. Keep your torso and chest upright and hold the position.

2. Butterfly Stretch

Begin by sitting on the ground with your knees bent in front of you. Bring the soles of your feet together with your knees opening to your sides. Holding your feet, lean forward placing your elbows on top of your knees. Slowly push the knees towards the floor and hold the position.

3. Child's Pose

Begin by kneeling on the ground with your feet behind you and knees wider than shoulder width apart. Sit back on to your heels and lean forward bringing your torso to rest on your thighs. With your arms fully extended, rest your forehead on the ground in front of you. Slowly press your shoulders to the ground and hold this position.

Both static and dynamic stretches should be part of your training sessions. Stretching is a vital component of fitness, helping increase overall flexibility, range of motion and quality of life. Making the time in your routine both pre- and post-workout will be well worth your effort.