Always Stretch Before You Train

Should Bodybuilders Use Static Stretching Before a Workout?

Isometric Calf Stretch

It’s such a simple component of your workout routine that you may not even think about it. You might just automatically hit the mats before you train, to stretch every muscle group for 20 seconds. If you haven’t been reading Project Swole or other popular fitness blogs in the last 5 years, you might even think this practice is good for you. Think again.

If you have been reading fitness blogs, websites, magazines, or keeping up to date on regular fitness news, you would know by now that this myth has been debunked. It has been decided with 100% assurance whether you should or shouldn’t stretch before weight lifting. So what is the final answer?


The Myth

Some people still believe that you should static stretch every muscle group before you touch a weight or warm up. Other think you should warm up then static stretch every muscle group before you start lifting. Stretching before working out has always been a common practice, but it’s just so damned wrong.

The Truth

The worst thing you can do before weight lifting, is static stretching. And if you static stretch cold muscles then you’re just begging for injuries.

The only kind of stretching that should be performed before weight training is dynamic stretching, and even that should only be attempted after a thorough warm-up.

Static stretching can optionally be used as part of your cool down, post-workout.

The Science

First and foremost, there are no studies showing that stretching before exercise reduces the risk of injury.

Secondly, there are hundreds of studies that show a significant decrease in strength and power when athletes use static stretching before they train.

Additional studies show that stretching after exercise produces a far greater level of flexibility than stretching before exercise.

And finally, yet more studies show that dynamic, or ballistic stretching before exercise actually does increase both strength and power. This would include any power movement like arm circles, leg kicks, and lunges for example.

The Conclusion

Avoid static stretching before exercising at all costs. Start your workout by warming up, then include 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching. After you finish your workout you may feel free to use static stretching as part of your cool down. But be careful, too much flexibility can lead to weakness at either end of your range of motion when lifting heavy weights.

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