Not sure why, but flexibility training is probably the most neglected part of fitness. I guess people are not motivated to work on their flexibility exercises, in particular for beginners, because the results are somewhat vague and slow. It might not seem like a good investment of your time when compared to cardio or weight lifting.
But in many cases, flexibility training programs are more important than relentlessly working on your muscle building exercises. Improved limberness is crucial to preventing muscle injuries in training and in everyday life. It also reduces the discomfort in many daily activities and promotes good posture.
Before You Start
There are some general rules for flexibility workouts for beginners.
- Stretch at the end of your workout or after a warm bath, shower, or sauna. Warm muscles are more flexible and less susceptible to injuries;
- Breath steadily, smoothly, and deeply throughout your stretching. Breath into the area where you feel slight discomfort;
- Mild discomfort is all you need to feel. If there's pain, draw yourself back a notch;
- Keep your whole body engaged;
- Stretch slowly, with balance and ease;
- Hold your stretch at the final point for up to 10-30 seconds.
Flexibility Stretches For Beginners
Starting position – standing or sitting tall. Place your left hand on your lower back. With your right hand reach overhead and place the palm on the opposite side of your head, just above your ear. Then gently and slowly pull your head to the right side.
Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Repeat the cycle 2-4 times.
Start on all fours: hands under your shoulders, hips over your knees. Let your left arm bend while you're reaching your right arm across your body in between your left arm and your hips, right palm facing up.
Reach as far as you can or as soon as your right shoulder kisses the mat. Hold for a few seconds, return to the starting position, and repeat. Aim for 10 reps and continue with your left arm.
Start sitting tall with your knees bent and feet firmly on the ground. Reach behind you with your palms facing down and fingers reaching outwards. With your palms firmly on the ground, start sliding your buttocks away from your arms.
You should feel a stretch in your biceps, chest, and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds, come back, rest for a few moments, and stretch again. Repeat for 2-4 cycles.
Stand or sit tall. Extend your left arm straight and forward in front of you at shoulder height. With your right hand grab onto the left hand's fingers and pull them to bend your wrist upwards. Bend until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.
Then press your left-hand's fingers downwards until you feel a stretch. Hold for another 30 seconds. Repeat with your right arm.
Start on all fours: hands under your shoulders, hips over your knees, toes curled under.
Imagine your spine as a straight line. Inhale and start lowering your belly while stretching your neck upwards. Keep your abdomen engaged, though, as if it's hugging your spine. Imagine your spine making this U form bend, with your head on one end and your tailbone on the other.
Then, on your exhale, slowly start the reverse U form bend. Relax your toes and place the tops of your feet to the ground. Repeat the whole cycle for 5-10 times.
Start standing tall. Step your left foot forward and lower into a lunge with your knee creating a 90-degree angle. Keeping your back and your neck straight, try to reach the floor on both sides of your left foot. If you can't reach the floor, place a cushion on both sides of your foot.
Breathe in and, while exhaling, straighten your left leg. Keep your palms on the floor or on the cushions and your back and neck maintaining a straight line. Repeat for 3-5 cycles, then switch to the other leg.
Sit on a chair or on the floor. Place your left foot on your right knee. With your left ankle, make 5 circles to the left and 5 circles to the right. Repeat with your right ankle.
Then sit on the floor, back straight and your legs extended in front of you. Wrap a towel, a scarf, or a headband around the balls of your feet. Pull the feet towards you until you feel the stretch and hold for 10-15 seconds, and then release them back. Repeat for 5-10 times.