Lifting weights will increase your strength and muscle mass for a toned, tight physique. However, if you frequently lift with sore or tired muscles, your risks of incurring injury are increased. Decrease the risks of injury by performing warm-up stretches before working out. Avoid static stretching prior to exercising, since stretching cold muscles can result in pulls or tears. Instead, employ dynamic stretches that warm up the muscles through movement and gentle exercises that gradually enhance your range of motion.
For full range of motion, you should stretch your spine. Lie face-up on the floor, preferably on a mat or rug. With your palms facing up, stretch your arms at your sides to about shoulder height. Lift your left leg, with your knee bent at 90 degrees. Cross your left leg over your right leg, and turn your head to the left to increase the spinal stretch. Hold for approximately 20 to 30 seconds, and then return to your starting position. Repeat the exercise, only this time lift your right leg, cross it over the left and turn your head to the right.
Use the downward dog yoga pose to stretch your upper body, including your shoulders, arms and back, and your lower body, particularly your calves and hamstrings. Assume the pose by dropping to the floor on your hands and knees. Your hands should extend from underneath your shoulders. Your knees should extend from beneath your hips. Tuck your toes under as you lift your core up into the air until your body forms an inverted V. Your legs should straighten as you push your heels into the ground. Stretch your arms out in front of you to feel a deep stretch all the way up your back. Hold for five to 10 deep breaths.
This exercise can stretch your upper back, lats and arms. Stand tall with your abdominals engaged as you reach both arms up over your head with your elbows extended. Interlock your fingers as you reach towards the sky to intensify the stretch. Hold for approximately 20 seconds before lowering to start. Repeat two to three times.
Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch
Stand tall with your arms at your sides. Lift your left arm and stretch it across the front of your chest. Increase the stretch by hooking your left elbow in the crook of your right arm and pulling gently to the right. Hold for approximately 20 to 30 seconds before releasing. Repeat with the opposite arm.
Jennifer Andrews specializes in writing about health, wellness and nutrition. Andrews has a Master of Science in physical therapy from the University of Alberta as well as a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. She teaches yoga and pilates and is a recent graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.