Fitness and Weight Loss Stretch for more effective lifts

Supple muscles are crucial to making the most of your workouts.

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Stretch strong. play

Stretch strong.

(Photograph by Men's Health)
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One of the most important keys to building a strong and muscular physique is maintaining healthy, flexible, and supple muscles. Muscular balance creates greater access and therefore greater development to the muscle belly, says Jen Widerstrom, fitness coach on The Biggest Loser.

Building muscle is a strenuous cycle of breakdown and repair that requires some attention to the softer side of things.

Aside from setting the foundation for optimal growth, supple muscles will lessen your risk of injury.

Widerstrom has three stretches you can incorporate right away that will keep you limber and lengthened.

The cobra roll up:

"This movement offers critically needed manipulation of the thoracic spine, creating mobility and articulation in your upper body," says Widerstrom. Proper thoracic spine mobility is essential to keeping a healthy core that will translate to more effective lifts.

Hip flexor/psoas stretch:

Widerstrom suggests this stretch to open up those two overworked parts of the body.

Those of us who work at desks are often seated for much of the day and if these muscles aren't stretched, they can become restricted, leading to a host of issues, including lower back and hip pain.

Aside from injury prevention, keeping a long and supple hip flexor/psoas region is critical for strength gains throughout the entire body, adds Widerstrom.

Floor bar with roller:

"We lose space in our body through weight training," Widerstrom says.

This stretch will counteract those compressive forces, particularly throughout your chest, shoulders, and arms.

Regaining that space will keep your muscle bellies functioning through a longer range of motion for the most gains from your workouts.

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