Important Stretches to do Before Every Workout

Why do we stretch?

Not only does it help reduce the risk of injuries and increase blood flow to the muscles, it can improve flexibility and allow us to perform at a higher level. Before stretching “cold” muscles, it’s a good idea to start with a warm up. Light walking or other low-intensity exercises for five or 10 minutes can get the body going before stretching your legs, back, shoulders, and/or neck pre-workout.

There are two main categories of stretching: static and dynamic. With static stretching, the movements are slower and the positions are held for longer periods of time. Typically, this is most beneficial at the end of a workout. With dynamic stretching, the movements are repetitive and more challenging to help alleviate stiffness and loosen up the limbs before your regular workout or other fitness activity.

The American Council on Exercise considers stretching one of the five components of fitness. It lists numerous benefits of incorporating it pre- and post-workout, including improved posture and circulation, decreased risk of low back pain, and increased range of motion. There are several stretches you can do to get your workout off to a good start, but here are a few of the most common.

Quad stretch

In a standing position, grab the top of your right foot behind you and bring it closer to the buttocks while slightly pushing the hip forward. Hold for several seconds before alternating to the left foot and repeating the same movement.

Trunk stretch

In a seated position, bend and cross the right leg over the outstretched left leg. Twist the body to the right allowing the left elbow to rest on the right knee. The important thing to remember with this stretch is to sit up straight and engage the core. Hold the position for several counts before switching sides.


Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Raise your hips while keeping feet flat and the core engaged to protect the lower back. Hold the bridge for a few seconds at the top without allowing the glutes to droop. Then, slowly lower down and repeat.

Standing stretch

While standing with legs hip-width apart, clasp your hands behind you and extend the arms. Slowly bend forward from the hips until the back is parallel with the floor in a “tabletop” position and raise the arms. Repeat the motion several times.

Hamstring stretch

Either standing or seated, extend the leg you’re stretching out in front of you with a slight bend in the knee. Reach forward and grab your leg either at the shin or foot to help loosen up tight hamstrings.

Our bodies hold tension throughout the day. By stretching pre-workout, we help alleviate this stress on the muscles and joints as we get our bodies in prime fitness mode.

A complete workout starts with a warm up and ends with a cool down with stretch time buffering both ends. Take 5 or 10 minutes before every workout to incorporate a few dynamic stretching exercises and see how your body reaps the rewards.

7 Workout Motivation Tips

For many fitness fanatics, daily workouts are as necessary as brushing their teeth or taking a shower. It’s a healthy habit that’s become part of their everyday routine. Whether exercise gets their day off to a good start, makes them feel more energetic, or is a way to alleviate stress, they require little motivation to get in a regular workout.

However, there are those who require a bit more inspiration in order to stick with their fitness plan. If you fall into this second category, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Everyone experiences times when an extra boost is necessary to power through and stay on a healthy track.

We understand self-motivation doesn’t always come easy, so we’re delivering 7 helpful tips to keep the momentum going.

  1. Pick an empowering playlist. Music can set the mood for our workouts. Choose songs that energize you and push you to work out a few, additional minutes or go the literal extra mile. Alternatively, if you need to wind down, select relaxing tunes while you soak up your time of self-care.
  1. Set fitness goals. When you have something to aim for, it can make each workout more worthwhile. Goals can be long-term like focusing on improved health or a lifestyle change. Or, it can be more specific and short-term, such as completing a 5K or dropping a pant size or two.
  1. Create accountability. A workout partner or trainer can be a powerful “tool” to stay the course with your exercise habits. Schedule gym dates with friends or get moving outdoors with a hike or bike ride. If you have someone counting on you to make a workout happen, it can create a greater sense of urgency and commitment to follow through as planned.
  1. Get out of a rut. Too often we quit our regular workouts because we’re burned out by the treadmill or don’t like the monotony of our routine. In order to shake things up, try new classes on a rotating basis or challenge yourself with added weights or repetitions. Small changes are an easy way to add a boost of motivation and sidestep boredom.
  1. Get back on the bandwagon. Maybe it’s been a few weeks (or months) since you’ve worked out and you feel like it’s too big of a hurdle to overcome and start again. The first step is often the hardest, but you’ll soon be back in the swing of things, if you set realistic expectations. Don’t go full throttle all at once. Ease into exercise one step at a time, maybe 10 minutes to start, and build from there.
  1. Schedule it. It’s easy to fill our schedules full of activities but forget to add in a workout. By making an “appointment,” we are purposefully creating time to focus on our fitness. Even on hectic days, 15 or 20 minutes of exercise will do the trick and make you feel so much better.
  1. Update your workout wardrobe. It might not be an incentive for everyone, but a new pair of sneakers or gym outfit may be just the inspiration needed to look and feel good while at the gym. Celebrate milestones with small rewards like these to help keep your health in check and exercise a regular part of your lifestyle.