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Flexibility is more than just being able to touch your toes. Flexibility is about more than just preventing injuries or showing off how low you can stretch.

Flexibility is what gives us the ability to perform many muscle building exercises, like deadlifts and lunges. The more flexible we become, the better we are able to perform these exercises and the better we can show off that muscle we built. Flexibility also decreases with age so becoming more flexible while you can, only helps as you get older.

S.W.E.A.T. Fitness clients know that we always warm up at the beginning of each class and stretch and the end of each class. We do this to get the blood flowing and to help prevent injury. Of course this is a great habit to maintain, but it may not be enough to increase your flexibility.

If you are interested in improving your flexibility outside of what we do in classes, take a look at these steps.

Increase your flexibility to help improve your performance at the studio! Photo credit: Men's Fitness.

Increase your flexibility to help improve your performance at the studio! Photo credit: Men’s Fitness.

Do a dynamic stretch routine before starting your workout
The days of staying in one position and holding it for a certain amount of time before your workout are over. Research now shows that a dynamic stretch is more beneficial that a static stretch. Dynamic stretch routines often include body weight squats, push ups, side lunges, jumping jacks or regular lunges. Each movement should be done 20-30 times or just a enough to work up a light sweat.

Include some static stretches in your workout, after your warm up
Static stretching is not totally out. Find ways to work some static leg, back and arm stretches into your workout. This will help loosen up muscles that get tight from lifting. Along with any muscles hit hard during the workout, also focus on the chest, lats, and hip flexors, as they tend to be tight on most individuals due to daily posture.

Concentrate on full range of motion stretching
Before getting really into your lifting routine, practice the same motion with lighter weights. For example, if you are planning to max out on your deadlifts, chose light weights for your first few reps. Go through the motions like you generally would. This will help you concentrate on form and increase your flexibility.

Sneak a massage into your week
I know we would all LOVE a weekly massage, but that’s not realistic. Massaging muscles helps break up knots that restrict movements. When it’s not possible to get a professional massage, use a foam roller. Focus on hitting the main muscles like the calves, quads, upper back and lats.

Learn to breath properly
Many people struggle with this one. Learn to breathe correctly when exercising. Focus on belly breaths where the belly button moves in and out with each breath. Spend five minutes a day working on improving breathing for a more relaxed and stress-free posture.

Dance classes are great for flexibility (and coordination)
If you are a Zumba or Hip Hop junkie, that’s great! Those classes are already helping with your flexibility. Dance fitness forces you to do many full range of motion exercises, which will help you lift in TNT, RIPPED and Focus Fit. See all that bouncing around and shaking your butt are actually helpful for more than calorie burn so keep at it!

Take a class that focuses on flexibility
Classes like pilates, yoga and PiYo are great ways to increase flexibility, while getting a great workout. These classes allow you to work on your flexibility through different stretches, dance moves and poses with an instructor that knows what she or he is doing. Check out the schedule page and make a date to try out PiYo with Marisa!

Hope you enjoyed this story and you learned something! Look for another story soon!