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10 Best Stretches for Weightlifters | Improve Strength Training

It’s no secret that lifting weights can put a lot of stress on your body. The muscles in your arms, legs, and the rest of your body can’t grow without stretching the soft tissue that surrounds your muscles. In that case, you should be doing everything you can to minimize your injury risk, including stretching to improve strength training. 

Muscles Used in Weightlifting

Weightlifting can consist of isolated movements that work a single, primary muscle, or compound movements that work multiple muscles. Either way, the muscles used in weightlifting depend on each exercise, and can include any of the following: 

  • Shoulders - Deltoids, Traps
  • Arms - Biceps, Triceps
  • Chest - Pectorals
  • Abs - Rectus Abdominis, Obliques 
  • Back - Thoracic Spine, QL
  • Legs - Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Calves 

Common Weightlifting Injuries

By adding heavy external loads to your body, there is potential for injury if you are overzealous and not vigilant about stretching. Here are some common weightlifting injuries: 

  • Knee Tendonitis 
  • Shoulder Strain
  • Herniated Disc
  • Hip Impingement
  • Elbow Tendonitis
  • Pulled Muscles 

How to Prevent Injuries from Weightlifting 

Stretching before and after strength training is often overlooked when it comes to weight lifting, but properly warming up and cooling down your muscles with the right stretches is the best way to prevent injuries from weightlifting. 


In addition to integrating a stretching routine, foam rolling with a Yoga Strong Roller can help reduce muscle tightness that often precedes an injury, as well as making your stretching routine more productive. 

Best Weightlifting Stretches

10. Deep Squat

Deep squats help prepare your hip and groin muscles for any loaded squats by challenging your range of motion. By performing deep squats, you can also free up any tightness that may hinder your movement.


Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and toes externally rotated to point slightly outward.
  2. Then, slowly squat down so your hips drop below your knees or as deep as you can manage. 
  3. Now, take your elbows and anchor them to the inside of each thigh to help keep your hips open and knees out wide. 
  4. Breathe and hold for 20-30 seconds. 

 

9. Forearms Stretch

The forearms can be a common cause of wrist or elbow pain because of the amount of time we spend in a flexed position. Therefore, a forearm stretch that loosens up your extensors can be beneficial.

How to Do

  1. Stand in front of a table or bed about waist height
  2. Then, flex your wrists downward and place the back of your hands on the table/bed 
  3. Next, lean forward into your hands to create more tension in the forearm extensors
  4. If you feel discomfort, back off slightly. 

 

8. Arm Swings

Protecting your shoulders through full range of motion will help keep your upper body functional for strength training. Also one of our recommended boxing stretches, using arm swings as a dynamic warm-up is a great tool to encourage mobility and build shoulder strength.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing with your arms by your sides.
  2. When ready, raise your arms in front of you and start to make big circles going clockwise with your arms. 
  3. With control, pretend like you’re touching every digit on the clock (12,1,2,etc.) 
  4. Repeat clockwise 5x through, then switch directions and perform the arm circles counterclockwise. 

 

7. Superman

Your mid back and lower back can sometimes take a beating due to compromised form when weightlifting. With the Superman exercise, you will perform dynamic back stretches so that your spine is no longer vulnerable when lifting medium to heavy weights. 

  1. Start lying prone (face down) on your Yoga Strong Mat, with your legs straight and arms extended straight in front of you. 
  2. Now, while maintaining a neutral neck/head position, slowly raise both arms and both legs about 6-12 inches off the ground. 
  3. With control, hold for 2-3 seconds in the air with your glutes and engaged. 
  4. Repeat 15x.

 

6. Toe Touches

Toe touches aim to work your posterior chain, from your lower back, through your hamstrings, to your calves and achilles tendon. 

  1. Start standing feet shoulder width apart
  2. Then, hinge at your hips and move your spine parallel to the ground while in a neutral position.
  3. Next, slide your arms down the front of your legs to reach for your toes while keeping the straight spine. 
  4. After that, when you reach your limit, breathe and hold for 30 seconds. 

 

5. Hanging Lat Stretch

You need a firm doorway or a pull-up bar to perform the hanging lat stretch, as well as a strong grip. Yet, this is one of the few lat stretches that can help decompress the shoulders, lats, and spine, as well as stretch your ribs and promote length and mobility for strength training. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Start by grabbing a pull up bar with both hands and hang, feet off the floor and arms straight.
  2. While breathing, hold this hanging position with relaxed shoulders and hips.
  3. Hold for 20-30 seconds

 

4. Side Bends

Many abdominal and spinal stretches target extending your spine. However, improving lateral flexion with side bends can increase flexibility and build strength in the obliques, QL, and lateral hip.

Here are the steps:

  1. While standing upright with your arms at each side, start to reach your right hand down your side body towards the outside of your right foot. 
  2. At the same time, bump your hips to the left to increase the range of motion. Make sure you are bending to the side (laterally), and not forward or rotation. 
  3. To increase the stretch, raise your left arm up and over your head and reach to the right side and hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side. 

 

3. Hip Circles

Hip circles work your hip dynamically through every angle of motion. You want to ensure you do not have any compensatory habits when weightlifting, so hip circles will help prepare your body for all weight training exercises. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing, feet shoulder width apart, and raise your right leg up to hip height so it’s at a 90 degree angle.
  2. Slowly, rotate your right hip out to the right side, so it is now parallel to your hip.
  3. Then, rotate your hip again, this time backwards, so your right hip and knee are now behind you. Toes should be facing down. 
  4. That makes 1 hip circle in a clockwise direction. Repeat 10x and switch sides. 

 

2. Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose is both a warm-up exercise for your glutes and lower back, as well as a flexibility exercise that stretches your abs

Here are the steps:

  1. Lay on your back on your Yoga Strong Mat and place your feet on the ground, shoulders distance apart, directly underneath your knees. 
  2. When in place, pull the belly button towards the spine and on an inhale, press into your feet to lift your hips up and off the mat, pulling your chest towards your chin.
  3. Hold for 5 breaths

 

 

1. Leg Swings

Leg swings are both a dynamic stretch and compound movement that promotes active flexibility in the front hip and hamstring. Due to their compatibility in movement, both kickboxing stretches and weightlifting stretches share similar stretches.


Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing on the left side of a chair, wall, or other support. Use your right hand for support.
  2. When ready, begin to swing your right leg forward and up towards your hip height, while keeping the leg straight. 
  3. Then, once you hit your maximum point, swing back down and behind you, bringing your right leg as far back into hip extension as you can go.
  4. Repeat 10 swings each leg.

References:


Nicole, R. (n.d.). 12 best warm up exercises & stretches to do before workout. For Care Education and Research. https://fcer.org/warm-up-exercises/ 

Staff, F. E. (2022, April 22). Weight-training and weight-lifting safety. familydoctor.org. https://familydoctor.org/weight-training-and-weight-lifting-safety/