Pre-Workout Stretches: Legs
Stretch Armstrong a.k.a Coach Ben gives us his top tips
Stretching; something we all know the importance of but usually when it is mentioned there is a big groan about the effort it takes or confusion about where to start with it. The reality is, stretching is simple!
Things have moved past the traditional way of stretching where people walk in, briefly reach their hands down towards the floor and believe they are prepared for a tough workout. Advancements have been made, there are different types of stretching and all of them have their purpose.
When it comes to stretching before a workout, my recommendation is dynamic stretching and movement, whereby you are raising the heart rate and moving through different ranges of motion. This will prepare you best for physical activity and it can be modified to suit the workout you are doing.
But why bother stretching? Well, it provides a few benefits the first of which being injury avoidance! The key to staying in the gym and making progress is staying healthy and there is no doubt stretching and warmup plays a big part in this. By loosening muscles and preparing them for the workout ahead, you reduce risks of muscular strains or tears and injuries that happen over prolonged periods.
Another key benefit is that you will often find that performance improves in your training sessions. Tight, under-recovered muscles will perform worse than loose and fresh ones!
Lastly, stretching and warmup can offer a time to get mentally prepared for the training session ahead, which can increase motivation and work-rate overall!
Here are my top 5 pre-session leg stretches that will increase your heart rate, warm your muscles up and get you ready for your training.
A simple, dynamic movement for the legs and hips. This can be performed by supporting yourself against something, keeping the body nice and tall and simply swinging the leg back and forth. Aim to kick your foot up higher every couple of swings and feel out that stretch in your hip flexors, quads and hamstrings. 10-15 swings per side should do the job!
This movement is specific to the calves but has the secondary reward of helping to relieve tight hamstrings. In a press-up position, push one leg back and push the toes into the ground, stretching one calf. Aim to get your heel to the ground then in a fluid motion, alternate sides. 10-20 pumps per side is a good amount to begin with.
A slightly more challenging yet highly effective groin, hamstring and hip opener. This movement is done by performing what is essentially a sideways squat, where you end up sat over on one leg with the other foot pointed up to achieve maximal and optimal stretch. Play around with this one as the balance can be tricky. 8-10 reps per side will definitely have you feeling ready to go!
Squat to Stand
An easy, achievable movement to make that deep squat position more achievable. Sit into your deepest squat position comfortable, pushing the hips out and breathing out. Then, push back from the hips and extend the legs as much as you can. This will stretch the hamstrings quite significantly so take this at your own pace and take the approach that it is a progressive stretch.
Bulgarian Split Squat
Both a dynamic stretch and an activation exercise for the legs. This movement trains unilateral (one side) strength and stability and is extremely effective for any lower body warmup! One leg goes behind you on the bench, with the toes facing down so that the ankle can move freely and the other planted in front, with the foot tight on the floor. Slowly descend and aim to sit down and back. You will feel a stretch in the hip flexor, quad and glute as you sit and then push up explosively aiming to stay balanced. Everything will be firing and ready to go!
If you would like further advice on stretching, pre-workout mobility or would like to speak to Ben about Powerlifting and how he can help you get stronger you can contact him on 07821191293, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Instagram @BLGStrength or head over to Our Team page for more information.