Targeting your quadriceps during resistance training strengthens the legs and creates defined muscles that look great in shorts or provide you an athletic edge on your competition. While the actual lifting action of strength training requires specific technique for proper muscle development, stretching the quadriceps is also imperative to keep your legs flexible and loose.
Stretching before exercising has been touted in the past as a means of preventing injuries and “warming up” the muscles for a particular activity. While the American Council on Exercise states performing dynamic stretching exercises before a workout is beneficial, executing static stretches may actually be detrimental. Therefore, before you begin an exercise, it is suggested to perform dynamic quadriceps stretches. However, Mayo Clinic outlines information that suggests stretching before activities such as sprinting may actually hinder your athletic performance. Before using dynamic quadricep stretches, warm up the body by performing a low intensity exercise such as jogging for five to 10 minutes.
Stretching after you exercise allows your body to cool down and helps release tension from your now-tired muscles. While it is not advisable to perform static stretches before exercising, the American Council on Exercise says exercisers may stretch using static stretches after a workout. Use stretching as a part of your overall cool-down period. For example, lightly jog or briskly walk for five to 10 minutes highlighted by periods of static or dynamic stretches.
Dynamic and Static Stretching Examples
Examples of dynamic stretches for the quadriceps include the bear crawl, bird-dog as well as the standard lunge. Since dynamic stretches require movement, they will raise your heart rate due to their low intensity movements, which also works to warm muscles through an increase of use and circulation. Repeat each dynamic stretch for a series of six to 10 repetitions. Effective quadriceps static stretches include the standing quad stretch with a towel, lever quadriceps stretch and the lying side quadriceps stretch.
When performing static stretches, do not “bounce” at the peak of the stretch; rather, focus on extending into the stretch and hold each stretch for 30 seconds. Remember to breathe while performing static and dynamic stretches. Don’t fall into the “no pain, no gain” attitude. When stretching with dynamic or static movements, immediately stop the stretch if you feel pain. While muscle tension is to be expected, pain is not.
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