In addition to cardio and strength training, flexibility is an important but often neglected part of your fitness program. You can do these standing stretches throughout the day to unwind tight and tired muscles.
Keep in Mind
- For best results, stretch at least three times a week.
- Hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, breathing slowly and deeply.
- Never force or strain, and be sure to modify or adapt if you need to.
- Take each stretch to the point where you’re just at your “edge” — not too much sensation, but just enough to feel the muscles elongating.
Target muscles: chest, triceps
Clasp your hand behind your head. Inhale and lift your chest, draw your elbows back and press your head into your hands. Exhale and ease off slightly. Repeat several more times in a smooth, controlled manner, moving with a slow, deep breath.
Target Muscles: glutes, hips, lower back
Cross your left ankle over your right thigh and bend your standing leg to increase the sensation in your hip and glute. Extend your arms or use a wall for balance. Gaze at a spot in front of your for better focus and stability. Keep your breath flowing. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and switch sides.
Target muscles: Quads, knees
Grasp your right foot or ankle with your right hand and draw your heel toward your glute. Press through the front of your right hip and try to keep your knees close together. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds on each leg.
Target muscles: hamstrings
Balance on your left leg and extend your right leg in front of you, foot flexed. Keep your back flat and your chest lifted as you slowly hinge at your hips and reach your chest forward to increase the stretch. Breathe deeply for 30 to 60 seconds and switch legs.
Target muscles: lats, abs, hips, back
Start with your feet hip-width apart and place your palms together overhead. Inhale and elongate your spine. As you exhale, reach to your right, keeping your chest open and your top arm aligned with your ear. Let your hips move to the left a bit. As you inhale, ease up slightly; as you exhale, deepen the stretch on the same side. Repeat four or five times, slowly moving with your breath, then repeat on the other side.