Let’s face it: Trying to lose weight can feel overwhelming, exhausting, and daunting, especially when you’ve put in weeks (or months) of effort only to find that the number on the scale hasn’t budged. So whether you’re about to kick-start your weight-loss journey or have been trying to crack the fat-loss code for a while, we’re here to support you with sound advice from an expert trainer. We talked to Dan Johnston, CPTcertified personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach, sharing five of the all-time best stretches for weight loss.
Instead of losing faith in your quest for a healthier weight, keep your chin up and add these stretches to your daily routine. Plus, check out these exercise habits for weight loss that science says actually work.
Stretching for weight loss
You’ve probably heard that a combination of regular exercise including cardio and resistance training, along with a well-balanced, nutritious diet (enjoyed while in a calorie deficit) is critical to achieving your weight loss goals. However, incorporating other aspects of fitness into your exercise routine, such as stretching to improve flexibility and range of motion, is also a wise decision. Stretching supports weight loss by increasing the number of calories you burn daily, according to Health line. Also, a study published in Clinical physiology and functional imaging found that stretching can improve muscle hypertrophy, another factor in increasing fat loss.
Two main types of stretching can promote weight loss: static and dynamic stretching. Static stretching is the image you probably have when you think of stretching. According to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, it requires you to stretch a muscle and stay in that position for a minimum of 15 to 20 seconds. Static stretching targets a single muscle group during each stretch. In contrast, dynamic stretching involves active movements in which the joints and muscles perform a full range of motion (ROM), burning more calories than its static counterpart.
While stretching doesn’t burn as many calories as aerobic exercise and resistance training, every little bit helps. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 154-pound person will burn about 90 calories during 30 minutes of static stretching. However, the heavier you are and the more dynamic the stretch, the more calories you will burn. “Stretching alone doesn’t promote weight loss, but a combination of diet and exercise that increases flexibility while strength training can be helpful on your weight loss journey,” says Johnston.
Now, let’s dive into Johnston’s recommended best stretches for weight loss.
Bulgarian Split Squats
“The bottom position of the Bulgarian split squat is similar to what you would see if you were doing a classic couch stretch. However, add some resistance and you’ll get a better stretch in the hip flexors,” says Johnston.
This movement opens up the hips while targeting the hip flexors (muscles at the front of the hips) and improves hip mobility. Improved hip mobility improves exercise performance and allows you to perform everyday activities such as squatting to lift objects, both of which promote weight loss. During Bulgarian split squats, your quads, glutes, and hamstrings also get a solid stretch, according to research published in PLOS One. Since this is a single leg exercise, make sure you are performing the movement with both legs for a balanced stretch.
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The deep squat effectively stretches different parts of the lower body, including the hip flexors, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves, while engaging the core. Deep squats can also improve the range of motion in the hip, knee and ankle joints, improving overall range of motion and stretching for weight loss.
“Lift your heels to squat lower and stand more upright,” explains Johnston. “This will stretch your adductors (groin area), which tends to be a stiff area for many people. Also, deep squats allow your glutes and quads to experience the load in a more stretched position.”
Hanging leg raises
The third stretch to enhance weight loss is the hanging leg raise. “This is a great exercise with the combined effect of not only training your core, but also allowing your lower back and pelvic area to experience flexion and extension, movements you may not be exposed to often throughout the day if you’re stationary.” at work,” says Johnston.
According to the experts of Health line, performing a dead hang can stretch and strengthen muscles in the shoulders, upper back, core, forearms, and hand and wrist flexors. It also stretches and decompresses the spine, which is essential for optimizing physical performance and calorie burn.
Side bends with elbows and feet raised (or side bends with dumbbells)
“Most movement is in the sagittal plane (straight up and down), so this is a good movement that not only works the core, but can also get your body moving in the frontal plane while providing a great stretch to the knee area.” trunk and pelvis,” explains Johnston.
If this movement is too difficult, try lateral bends with a dumbbell or kettlebell, making sure you push your hip out to the side and move the resistance along your side for an optimal stretch.
Single arm lat pulldown with twist
Last but not least of these stretches for weight loss is another excellent combination movement that offers the benefits of stretching your muscles while working towards your weight loss and resistance training goals. “The lats are another area that tends to be tight for a lot of people for various reasons,” says Johnston. “Adding a twist at the bottom of the movement allows you to stretch the lat to its bottom-out position.”
So, if you spend most of your day in front of a computer screen, consider trying this to loosen up your back muscles and get you one step closer to reaching a healthier weight.