Do you ever stop to think about all the things in life you know you should be doing more of, but for whatever the reason, you just aren’t? Things like flossing, taking the dog to the dog park more, cooking your own dinners instead of eating….sound familiar? Well, if you’re like most people, we could probably add flexibility training to the list of things you know you should be trying to improve, but just aren’t. To most people, flexibility training involves bending over, making a futile attempt to touch their toes, holding for a handful of seconds, and moving on. C’mon…let’s get real – you know that’s not the kind of flexibility training I’ve been trying for year to get you to do. But on the flip side, devoting 20 or so minutes to simply holding static stretch poses isn’t very practical for a large majority of you…..that, or you’re just too ADD to sit doing “nothing” for that long.
But of course, you still want those long, lean muscles, kind of like the body of your yoga or pilates instructor. The kind of body that stops people in their tracks and makes them say “WOW!”. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, certain types of fitness training will lead to different body types, and yoga/pilates is a great way to lengthen the muscle fascia, thereby allowing muscle room to grow long ways instead of side ways (long and lean vs. bulky). Prescribing loads of yoga and pilates is one such way to get this done, but it’s certainly not the only way. If you like the idea of yoga on paper but just can’t get yourself to commit to the a consistent practice and/or can’t pull yourself away from the gym environment (that’d be me), today’s workout is perfect for you. I’m going to give you a workout that incorporates a full body stretch routine into the strength/cardio exercises, making this the perfect workout for leaning out, lengthening muscles, and improving your overall flexibility.
The basis behind today’s workout is about mixing in opposing muscle stretching movements during the rest periods between your strength/cardio training exercises. Did you notice I said “opposing muscle” stretching movements there? What does that mean? Well, that means you’re actively stretching muscle you AREN’T actively using during the current exercise. You see, when you stretch a muscle, you’re actually decreasing the power that muscle will be able to lift in the short-term. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but if you’re going for max benefit from your muscle-building workout, you want your muscles at full-strength, right?
By stretching opposing muscles, you’re going to take a calculated approach to building lean muscle, stretching lean muscle, and transforming your body into a long, lean, and athletically built, machine. You’re going to function better, you should experience less overall soreness, tightness, and discomfort. You’ll be better protected against injury, your range of motion on a whole series of exercises is going to increase, which means you’re going to be working more efficiently, thereby resulting in better long-term gains and overall health. Okay, so that was the full court press – have I convinced you of the benefits of adding a little flexibility training to your workouts?
Oh and best of all, since we’re doing these opposing muscle stretching movements during the workout, we’re not spending any more time working out. Instead of walking around, checking yourself out in the mirror, checking out that chick on the treadmill in the mirror, looking at the TV, browsing Tinder, or whatever else it is you’re doing during your rest breaks, you’re now going to do a little flexibility training. Two birds, one stone…get it? Good.
The Long and Lean Workout
This workout is going to be considered a full body, muscle-building workout with cardiovascular aspects to bump the total fat burn. As such, you should feel free to use this workout twice, maybe three times a week depending on how you space things out.
We’re using mini-circuits, with stretching poses as our “rest” intervals, so just follow along, stick to the rest/rep intervals, and you should be good to go.
Mini-Circuit #1 – Complete 3 rounds total. No rest between exercises.
- Dumbbell Bench Press – 8-10 reps
- Bent Over Dumbbell Row – 8-10 reps
- Curl and Press – 8-10 reps
- Hamstring stretch – 60 seconds. Keeping a FLAT back, bend from the waist with your hands extended in front of you as you lower, really feeling this stretch in the hamstrings and hips. Remember, you’re not bending over and rounding your back to grab your toes, we’re simply using this deep stretch to hit the hamstrings and loosen things up.
Mini-Circuit #2 – Complete 3 rounds total. No rest between exercises.
- Burpee + Front Swing – 10 reps
- Push Up/Dip Turnovers – 10 reps
- Super Climbers – 10 reps
- Forward Lunge Stretch – 90 seconds, going 45 seconds per side. Keeping your back foot fixed to the floor, lean forward and “in” to this stretch. Keep your hands on your hips for additional balance. Really feel this one in your hip flexors and IT bands.
Mini-Circuit #3 – Complete 3 rounds total. No rest between exercises.
- Squat Twists – 10 reps
- Dumbbell Skull Crushers – 10 reps
- Hindu Push Ups – 10 reps
- Overhead Side Bend Stretch – 90 seconds, 45 seconds per side. Really grasp those elbows and squeeze firmly as you slowly bend to one side. As your body becomes more limber, you’ll want to lean deeper into this stretch. You’ll loosen up the muscles in the back, shoulders, and hips with this one.
Mini-Circuit #4 – Complete 3 rounds total, no rest between exercises.
- Hang Snatch – 8-10 reps
- Bent Over Inverted Barbell Row – 8-10 reps
- Cement Mixers – 12-15 reps
- Chest Stretch – 90 seconds, 45 seconds per side. Use a wall, door frame, or other object you can hold on to for this one. Rotate your body away from the object as you plant or hold firmly, allowing a full stretch of the chest muscles, shoulders, and forearms/biceps.
Mini-Circuit #5 – Complete 3 rounds total, no rest between exercises.
- Flutter + Scissor Kick Combo – 30 seconds
- Vertical Crunch – 15-20 reps
- Crazy Planks – 30 seconds
- Upward Dog Stretch – 90 seconds, break up into two sets if needed. A great total body stretch to round out your training day. Limber up the lower back, hip flexors, and upper body with this one. Plant your hands firmly while doing your best to “pull” your shoulders back, feeling the stretch throughout your posterior chain (the back of your body, i.e. the side your butt is on!)
In order for this workout to make any noticeable differences, it’s going to take consistency. Increasingly flexibility and watching a physical transformation of your muscle shape is not a quick process. It’s going to take time, but over the long run, you will absolutely notice changes in your body and range of motion. Unlike strength training/cardio, in which certain routines work some of the time, for only some people, flexibility training is pretty consistent in its ability to work for ALL people. Sure, some of us are naturally more flexible, but if you put in the work as detailed in this workout, it’s going to work for you. And for all of you not counting at home, that’s 21 minutes of pure stretching. Do you know how much you’re going to change your body if you started doing 20+ minutes of pure stretching 3+ times a week? Just do it and see for yourself.
Have any comments, questions, or concerns? Leave a message below and I’ll get right back to you!