One of the biggest problems in America today is lack of
activity. We know it's good for us but avoid it like the
plague either because we're used to being sedentary or
afraid that exercise has to be vigorous to be worth our
time. The truth is, movement is movement and the more you
do, the healthier you'll be. Even moderate activities like
chores, gardening and walking can make a difference.
Just adding a little movement to your life can:
So, even if you opt for small changes and a more modest
weight loss, you can see the benefits are still pretty good.
Warming up before any form of weight loss exercise
Before starting any exercise to lose weight you need to warm
the body up thoroughly. There are three reasons for this:
To reduce the chance of the injury.
To increase blood flow to the working muscles and boost
activity of neuromuscular pathways allowing them to be fully
prepared for exercise.
To enable your joints to move more freely and prepare them
for any stressful impacts.
A good warm up can help limit any discomfort or anxiety
associated with long exercise sessions. It also enables the
energy system to be “revved up” and “activated” to keep up
with the pace of energy requirements.
Hamstring Stretch - Warm up Upper Legs
This stretch targets the hamstring muscles which are located
at the back of the thighs. A hamstring stretch is
particularly important if you intend to run to lose weight.
If you start running three times per week then you'll need
to make sure you are warmed up thoroughly before starting,
for this reason you'll definitely need to do lots of
hamstring stretches. Another version of the hamstring
stretch is one where you bend over to touch the toes, this
is a much more common stretch. I like this version as it
allows you to wiggle the foot around at the same time
helping to loosen up the ankle joint.
Be careful not to overstretch when warming up the hamstring
muscles. Overstretching can put too much stress on the back
of the knee.
How to do the Alternate Hamstring Stretch*
Start by lying on an exercise mat with your knees bent, your
feet together and flat on the floor. Lift your right leg so
that it is almost perpendicular to the floor. If possible
try to slowly lock the knee joint at this point, if that is
easy then reach up with both hands and hold the leg in
position for 20 seconds. If that is also easy, slowly pull
the leg an inch further towards your head and hold. Do this
until you feel a slight stretch at the back of the
hamstrings or knee joint then stop. As soon as you feel any
stretch stop and hold for the count, unless you feel pain at
any time, in this case stop the stretch immediately. After
the right leg repeat the same technique for the left leg.
Chest Stretch - Hands behind the back
This is a great stretch for the chest, front shoulder and
bicep muscles. It can help warm up most of the upper body in
one, thus if short on time then the chest stretch is one
with should be performed more than any other upper body
stretch. Use this stretch as part of a warm up routine
rather than trying to increase flexibility.
You should not try to push this stretch too far, too soon.
Start off with the hands closer to the buttocks, as it
becomes easier over the weeks you can slowly try to move the
hands up a little at a time. Remember though, always remain
within a comfortable stretch area for the chest stretch.
How to do the Chest Stretch*
Start in a seated or standing position. Using both hands
reach around to your back until the hands meet in the
middle. Grasp both hands together by interlocking the
fingers, at this point the elbows should be unlocked. Now
slowly push the shoulders back and straighten the arms until
the elbows lock out - stop the stretch completely if you
feel pain at any time! You should feel it pull slightly in
the chest and maybe the arms. Hold the stretch for 20 - 30
seconds. Now gently unlock the elbows before releasing the
If this stretch is easy then try to gently lift the hands
upwards until you feel a slight stretch in the chest,
shoulders or arms. The chest stretch can be tough so I would
advise you perform this one under the guidance of a
Ankle Stretch - warm up
This is less of a stretch and more of a movement to help
loosen up the ankle joint. The ankle joint is subjected to a
large number of impacts during many weight-bearing
exercises, therefore this warm up technique is ideal if you
intend to run or jog for an aerobic or cardio workout.
How to do the Ankle Joint Stretch*
Sit down on a comfortable, sturdy chair and lift the right
leg up with the knee pointing outwards. Grab hold of your
leg with your right hand just above the ankle joint. Using
your left hand hold the bottom of your right foot firmly.
Now pull the foot slowly towards your stomach area while
relaxing the right ankle joint and foot, hold for 5 seconds.
Now gently push the foot the opposite way, again hold for 5
seconds. Now rotate the ankle around clockwise in a slow and
gentle manner. Repeat for the left ankle joint.
Lower Back Stretch - Sitting lean over
This is a stretch for the lower back, although it does help
stretch all the other back muscles and the spine. Some may
call it the spine stretch. It is a good stretch for warming
up for the lower back when it's about to be put under
strain; such as doing heavy weight exercises like squats or
dead lifts. Some people may not even feel a stretch when
doing this, however, it is still good for the circulation
and to take the strain off the lower back.
How to do the Lower Back Spine Stretch*
Start by sitting on a strong, secure chair. Lift your arms
up in front of you and slowly bend down and gradually reach
for your feet. Try to feel for the stretch in the lower back
area while holding this position for about 20 seconds. If
this is easy you can try positioning the feet further away
at the start of the stretch. Bending over with your feet
further away will cause more stretch in the whole back.
Take care if you have problems with your back, if in doubt
don't try this stretch!
Thigh Stretch - Upper Legs or Quadriceps Warm Up
This is a popular stretch for the thighs / quadriceps
muscles of the upper legs. It also helps loosen up the knee
joint increasing its range of motion. In fact this stretch
is often used to help people with knee problems. The
Quadriceps muscles are used heavily during weight-bearing
exercise so the thigh stretch should be performed before any
walking or jogging exercise to lose weight.
How to do the Thigh Quadriceps Stretch*
Stand near a wall or secure structure for support while
performing this stretch. Stable yourself with the right hand
while lifting the right foot behind your back. Using the
left hand reach and grab the right foot, hold the foot
firmly. Stand straight with the thighs pointing down to the
floor, and gently push the foot further towards the lower
back until you feel the slight stretch in the quadriceps or
thigh muscles of the upper right leg. Hold the stretch for
20 - 30 seconds. Swap to the opposite side and repeat the
thigh stretch for the left leg. If you struggle with this
stretch then just try to hold the foot behind the back and
don't push any further. This should be a fairly easy stretch
but if it hurts at all stop doing it!
Shoulder and Triceps Stretch - Upper arm behind head
This is a great shoulder stretch that does two muscles at
the same time. It stretches the posterior deltoid muscle
(back head of shoulder), and the triceps muscles (back of
the arm) together. This stretch will really loosen up the
shoulder joint. It is ideal when doing heavy weight training
for the upper body. This is much the reverse stretch to the
chest stretch, which does the front shoulder head and the
biceps. This one does the back shoulder and triceps. For
this reason if you are pressed for time then they are
probably going to be best for upper body warm up before
How to do the Shoulder/Triceps Stretch*
Start by lifting your right arm up in the air but keep the
biceps close to the side of your head. Gently bend the right
arm until your hand is comfortably touching the back of the
neck. Using your left hand, hold the elbow of your right arm
and gently pull the elbow backwards, pretend you are trying
to get the elbow behind the head but you only want to pull a
tiny bit. Stop pulling as soon as you feel the stretch in
the shoulder or arms, hold this position for 20 - 30
seconds. Now repeat for the left arm.
This is a complicated and tough stretch so I would advise
you perform this stretch under the guidance of a qualified
instructor. If you are not very flexible in the shoulders
and struggle to get in the starting position the do the
other shoulder stretch instead.
Upper Back Lat Stretch - point hand upwards with fingers
Another great stretch for the lat muscles of the back. This
also helps loosen the shoulder joint preparing it for
exercise. Another good point to this stretch is that the
wrists get stretch a little as well. Good for when training
the back muscles such as a rowing movement.
How to do the Lat Back Stretch*
You can stand or sit to do this stretch. Start by
interlacing your fingers, then turn the palms upward above
your head as you slowly straighten your arms. I find it
easier to arch my lower back slightly as my arms are nearly
straight. Once you feel a slight stretch in the arms,
shoulders or upper back the hold the position for 20
Again don't force anything and try not to hold your breath
Groin Stretch - Exercise Warm Up
This is an easy stretch to do for warming up the groin area
before any weight loss exercise. It can be done in front of
the TV at home and will take less than a minute to complete.
The groin is one area many people forget to warm up before
exercising. It is important to warm up this area thoroughly
before exercise as any injury to the groin can be fairly
painful, and may cause you to stop training resulting in
less calories burned.
How to do the Groin Stretch*
Sit comfortably on a soft exercise mat or carpet. With your
knees pointing outwards put the soles of your feet together
and hold onto your toes. Rest your elbows around the shin
area in line with the lower legs and make sure you feel
stable. Gently pull yourself forward, bending from the hips
until you feel a little stretch in the groin area. Do not
bounce to stretch and try to keep the back straight at all
times. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
If you find it difficult or painful just to put your soles
together then don't do this groin stretch!
Hip Flexor stretch
This is a very good stretch for the muscles around the hip
area. The hip joint is involved in many different exercises
and it's important that this area is fully warmed up and
ready for any stress. This is a great stretch to do if you
wish to perform squats in order to increase the metabolism
to burn fat. Although it is a complicated stretch so you
should perform this for the first time under the guidance of
a qualified instructor.
You should start off stretching by only doing the basic,
easy stretches. Once you have gained confidence, experience
and lost weight then it may be the best time to try out more
complex stretches like the hip stretch shown below.
How to do the Hip Joint Stretch*
From a standing point start this stretch by taking a long,
single stride with your right leg. Slowly lower your upper
body by using the right thigh to take most of the strain,
place your hands on your right knee before lowering. As you
lower keep the left leg lagged behind and feel for a slight
stretch at the front above the quadriceps muscles. Once you
feel the stretch hols the position for 10 - 20 seconds.
Finish by drawing the left leg towards you so you can
balance your body weight using both legs. Repeat the process
to stretch the left hip side.
This stretch loosens the buttocks, lower back muscles and
hamstrings. It can be completed within a minute so fairly
good to do if you're in a hurry. Do not strain during this
stretch, and don't hold your breath. Try to relax all leg
and back muscles and this stretch will feel easier.
Warm ups and stretching should be completed before
attempting any exercise to lose weight or gain fitness. Take
the time to warm up thoroughly and you should have a more
How to do the Buttock Lower Back Stretch*
Using a soft mat or carpet lie down on your back and gently
pull your left leg towards your chest. Keep the right leg
straight. Grasp your hands together and hold the knee in
this position for 20 - 30 seconds. Repeat for the right leg.
Neck Stretch and relax technique
The neck stretch can be done before exercise but could also
be done every day, especially if working on a computer all
day. This stretch can help relieve everyday stresses and
strains, and help through headaches. Although you should be
careful if you have any neck problems at all.
How to do the Neck Stretch*
Sit down on a comfortable chair and relax the shoulders.
While breathing deeply let your head drop down slowly
forwards until you feel the muscles in the back of the neck
pull slightly. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then
return back to the start. Push your head backwards slowly
until you feel a slight stretch in the front of the neck,
again hold for a count of 10. Return back to the start. Now
repeat the process for the sides of the neck. Once completed
you can try lowering the head again but this time roll the
head around slowly three times, keep a straight back and
breath deeply at all times.
Do not strain and be careful not to force the stretches in
the neck, make sure this stretch is easy!