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We live in a world where our physical appearance matters to us greatly. We frequent the gym and constantly post on social media regarding our progress in our workouts, mostly displaying our bodies to the world. The subconscious (or conscious) need of approval plagues the human kind and we always seem to succumb to the secret temptation of having more gorgeous and leaner body than our friends. And so we smile and spend hours in the gym. Without realizing it, we are pushing for a fitter and leaner body for aesthetics, but we are actually gaining a lot of health benefits as well. Having lean muscles is important for our physique, and we often ask people who work out: Does stretching give you lean muscles?
Firstly, we would like to break the news to you: there is no such thing as lean muscle as muscle is always lean. When people talk about becoming lean, they are referring to having low fat in their body and some muscle.
Stretching and lean muscles
Stretching is a valuable exercise that contributes to a leaner physique. Please focus on the ‘contribute’ word in the previous sentence. A workout fitness routine is never complete without stretching, and exercising without stretching is never a good idea. Stretching is divided into two categories, namely dynamic stretching and static stretching. Dynamic stretching is a warming up exercise, and static stretching is a cooling off exercise.
Let us take a look at the different dynamic stretches that are great for your warm-up routine.
The target of this stretch is the hamstrings, core, and shoulder muscles.
- Stand with feet apart consistent to the width of your hip.
- Gradually bring your hand to lay flat on the ground. Bend your knees if you are having difficulty.
- Bring your hands away slowly from your feet to form a high plank position. Your hands must be beneath your shoulders, feel the tightness in your glutes, and engage you core.
- Slowly walk your feet towards your hand.
- Repeat this position six times.
This stretch targets your hips and lower back muscles.
- Lie down with your stomach to the floor, and spread your arms at your sides, with your palms facing down on the ground.
- Kick towards your left arm using your right foot, and then resume the previous position.
- Using your left foot, kick in the direction of your right arm, and then return to the original position.
- Repeat this stretch slowly 10 times for each foot.
This exercises focuses on the shoulders and chest muscles.
- Stand up straight and start swinging your arms in a side to side motion diagonally to your body. Make sure that your arms are at the same height as your shoulder the whole time.
- Turn on your core switch.
- Repeat this process for 30 to 60 seconds.
Open the gate
This dynamic exercise focuses on toning the muscles on your groin, hamstrings, and hips.
- Walk onwards, and then lift one of your knees. Turn your knee in an outward angle to the direction of your hip, and then lower down your knee to the floor.
- Keep a tight core, but let your body relax.
- Repeat the process 10 times on each knee.
Lunge with rotation
This type of stretch is for the hips and glutes muscles.
- Extend your arms forward as you take a lounge position. But make sure that your knee does not go beyond the level of your toes.
- Revolve your trunk and arms around your front leg while your spine is straight up.
- Step back and go back to your original position. Do the same thing to your other knee.
- Repeat this stretch at least 3 times for each knee.
Here are the top static stretches to achieve leaner muscles.
This static stretch is intended to tone the glutes muscles.
- Start this stretch with a position of high plank (toes and hands).
- Glide your left knee in the direction of your left hand, and thrust your left foot a little, headed to your right hand.
- Gently pull yourself downwards while your right leg is stretched long.
- If you prefer a deeper stretch, you should shove your left foot more towards your right hand.
- Repeat the same process to your other side.
This exercise focuses on your stomach, chest, and lower back muscles.
- Position your hand beneath your shoulders as you lie on your stomach to the ground, and your feet on the floor.
- Tighten your glutes as you support your core.
- Bring your chest up and down by pushing your hands.
- Relax your shoulders and then repeat.
Wall chest stretch
The focal point of this stretch is your chest muscles.
- Stand with your body fronting a wall, and lift your left arm towards the level of your shoulder. Keep your elbow at a 90 degrees angle, making your hand and elbow rest on the wall.
- Gently rotate your upper body away, while your hand and elbow is touching the wall.
- When you feel a stretch in your chest, stop. And hold this position for 30 seconds.
- Relax, and then repeat the same process on your right side.
Straight arm lat stretch
This form of stretching focuses on the muscles of your arms, shoulders, and back.
- Hold on to a chest-level bar, rail, or ledge.
- Position your palms face down and let your thumbs face each other.
- Bend your knees a bit as you thrust your hips backwards.
- As you shove your hips more, allow your head to face the floor while it stays between your arms. And then push your chest to the direction of the ground.
- Keep your spine neutral throughout the whole stretch.
- Hold the position for about 30 seconds, and then repeat the same process for 3 times.
Lying hamstrings stretch
This form of stretch is focusing on your hips and hamstrings muscles.
- Lie on your back with your body straight. Lift your left leg, pointing to the ceiling, while your right leg is on the ground.
- Use your hands to reach the back of your left leg and locate your ankle, calf, or hamstrings, and pull your leg in the direction of your chest.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other leg.
You will see a number of workout videos online that promise to give you lean muscles. It has become a very popular marketing tactic to get ‘longer and leaner’ muscles. Of course stretching contributes in giving you lean muscles, but that is not the only activity that is responsible. Long and lean muscles became a way to lure women because they were too afraid that they were going to bulk up.
Focus on losing weight and building some muscle as that would make you look lean and trim. Most importantly, follow the above-mentioned stretches and combine them with cardio and other form of exercises. No matter what workout you choose, enjoy it and be patient with the results.