Workout of the Day

Two-Minute Myths: You Need To Stretch Before You Work Out


The world of fitness is full of myths, over-simplifications, and sales pitches presented as fact, and we’re only hurting ourselves if we base our decisions off of these falsities and misrepresentations. That being said, we don’t all have time to bury our noses in physiology textbooks to figure out what’s fact and what’s fiction. I get it.

Enter: two-minute myths. Two minutes (or less) of reading, one common fitness myth simplified and clarified. I think we’ve all got two minutes to better inform our decision-making, right?

(Start your timers…)

Today’s myth: you need to stretch before you workout.

Let’s start with a little example. When’s the last time you saw a lion spend 10 minutes stretching out its legs, back, and shoulders before it took down a zebra?

Now, you and a lion differ considerably in anatomy, and even more so in lifestyle, but the point still stands: the idea of stretching as a precursor to activity is not something inherent in nature. Somewhere along the way, the exercise world got the idea into everyone’s collective heads that stretching before training was essential to prevent injury, and people generally complied, dedicating a few minutes before running or lifting to half-assedly bending over to reach their toes and pulling on their arms at a few angles to loosen up the ol’ shoulders. Seems reasonable, right?

Not so fast, enthusiastic 1980s exercise instruction video. Current research is finding that not only does pre-exercise stretching do very little to prevent injury, it can actually diminish performance, particularly in high-intensity exercise.

Now, before you go and tell the world that your coach told you never to coach before you train, let’s clarify a few things. First, static stretching is the culprit here. Think of your traditional type of stretching: get into some position that pulls on a muscle or muscles and hang out there for 30 seconds to a few minutes (sit and reach, for example). On the other hand, dynamic stretching (movement that brings you into and out of end ranges of motion) has been shown to be quite beneficial as part of a movement prep routine, and will positively contribute to your performance. Second, it’s important to note that while static stretching may be detrimental as part of a warm-up, it can absolutely be an effective tool for improving your movement and range of motion; it’s just better placed after your workout or at some other time of day. Finally, you need to remember that lions don’t have office jobs. Because so many folks spend 10+ hours every day sitting slumped over in an office chair or in the car, there are times when the general rule (don’t static stretch before training) needs to be broken. In other words, spending a few minutes static stretching to open up your stiff hips so you can actually get into a squat position will likely do a lot more to help your performance than it will to hurt it if you’ve spent the last 9 hours hunched over your desk. Things are never black and white.

The moral of the story: static stretching has its place, but it’s generally not before you move. Warm-up better to move better!

- PS


  • Back squat - 3,3,3,3,3


  • For time:

    • 150 kettlebell swings (53/35)