A few misconceptions amongst women are that you can only lose weight by doing hours of cardio, that lifting weights will make you bulky, and that you need to do crunches daily for flat abs. This is obviously not the case, which I explain more in detail in my F.I.T. programs. Resistance training and cardio should both be part of a healthy lifestyle, but they are not the only ways for you to tone up, and even stretching can help you get rid of the belly pooch.
Stretching is one of those things that people often overlook, and I was one of these people. I couldn’t wait to get out of the gym after I finished a workout. Nowadays, I ensure that I stretch after every workout, and even on my ‘rest days’. I have realised that health is not all about how you look, but also about how you feel. And I promise you that you will feel better if you ensure to stretch. So, what about getting rid of that belly pooch I was talking about before?
Although, stretching does not burn as many calories like other forms of training, such as lifting weights and cardio, it burns about the same amount of calories as gentle yoga. It might not be a huge amount, but it is still better than sitting around doing nothing. A full-body stretching session on your rest days is great, and something I recommend in my programs.
Another way that stretching can help you burn more calories is through restoring the length of your muscles and the range of motion (ROM). When a muscle’s ROM is restored, it is able to work at its full potential, and you are able to recruit more muscle fibres. This will allow you to perform better, lift heavier and increase the rate of recovery. You can train harder, whilst recovering faster. Sounds pretty good to me. Not to forget, that you minimise your risk of getting injured.
As you can see, there are so many reasons why you should make stretching part of your healthy lifestyle. Not only does it have a great effect on your body, but your mind too. It is a great way to relax and calm you down. Reducing your stress levels will have a positive effect on your cortisol level, a stress hormone often associated with fat around your belly. If you are under a lot of stress and simply can’t get to the gym, you might want to ensure that you at least spend a few minutes daily stretching.
Below are some of my favourite stretches to shape your waist.
Laying flat on you stomach. Place your hands underneath your shoulders. Gently push your upper body off the floor. You should feel a nice stretch in your abdominals, and even your quads.
Laying flat on your back place your hands by your ears and your feet close to your buttocks. Push up through your hands and feet until you form a ‘bridge’.
Swiss ball bridge stretch
Place your upper body on the ball with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Roll over the ball until it is in the middle of you body. Bring the arms over your head and down towards the floor behind you.
Gently twist your upper body from side to side while keeping your hips and legs still.
Lats & Obliques
Stretch up tall and then lean to your side, gently pulling your opposite arm. You should feel this down your sides.
Back & Glutes
Put one foot over the your knee and twist around to look over your shoulder. Use your upper arm to push your leg across your body. You should feel this across your glute and back.
Are you stretching enough? Let me know in the comments below!