When most people think of fitness, they think of weight training and cardio, but did you know there are actually 5 elements of fitness? To be truly fit, you should be excelling at all 5 elements of fitness.
1. Body Composition
2. Cardiovascular Fitness
3. Muscular Strength
4. Muscular Endurance
We spend SO much time strengthening our body and trying to lose body fat that our body constantly stays tight and sore. In addition to running or aerobicizing off the body fat, we strength train because we want that tight and tone fit look. However, the more “tight and tone” we look, the more “tight and tone” we actually are if we aren’t careful.
The very thing that makes our muscles look nicer can cause a host of other issues if we aren’t working on our flexibility too. And, if you know me, you know I am the queen of tightness.
Here are 8 simple exercises that are great for leg day, to help stretch out the legs and low back.
10 Stretching Tips:
Before you begin, look over these 10 simplet tips to make sure you are making the most of your stretching time.
1. Never stretch a cold muscle
2. Stretch out just enough to maximize range of motion during your workout
3. Don’t stretch out too much before or during weight training (you need the extra support)
4. Don’t bounce.
5. Stretches should be nice and easy, being careful not to overstretch a muscle
6. Hold stretches for at least 30 seconds
8. Save most of the stretching for after the workout is over
9. Don’t rush it, you’ll need to relax while you stretch to get the most benefit
10. Incorporate stretching throughout your day – at your desk, while shaving your legs, bending over to pick something up, while watching TV or when driving in your car
Before I even begin to train legs, my favorite warm-up exercise is overhead squats. This helps open up the shoulders and hips, as well as helps you improve posture so you can squat with proper form.
Overhead Squats – Do 4 Sets of 20 reps
Drop your hips as LOW as they can go, driving up with your heels and maintaining a tight upright core, keeping the bar overhead in line with your center of gravity (right over your heels). You should notice that you should be able to get deeper with each set. Now you are ready to train legs! THEN you can really stretch!
Time to Stretch!
1.) Hip Flexor Stretch: (Great for anyone who sits a lot)
2.) Calve Stretch:
Do this with a straight leg, and then bend the leg you are stretching and sit down on it to stretch the lower part of the calve. Stretching both parts of the calf can help relieve plantar fasciitis.
3.) Inner thigh and hip stretch:
Be sure to sit BACK into this stretch and really get low to improve flexibility in the hips too.
4.) IT Band & Hamstring Stretch: (great for runners)
5.) Hamstring Stretch: (this helps relieve low back pain & tightness)
6.) Glute Stretch: (Great for Relieving Sciatica)
7.) Low Back Stretch: (This is great especially after leg day!)
8.) Cat Cow Stretch: (resets your posture)
This is great for people who sit at a desk and hunch a lot.