Yes, stretching can help you lose weight. Start with these 5 options

Sounds a lot better than hours of cardio, right?

If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to hone in on exercises that burn as many calories as possible. For many people, this means cardio, cardio, cardio. While it’s true that cardio can help burn calories and contribute to weight loss, trainers say it would be a mistake to make it your only goal. strength training and rest also play an important role in losing weight in a healthy way. And you know what else it does? Extension.

Many people don’t believe that stretching contributes to weight loss, but there are several ways it does exactly that. Here, the trainers explain exactly how and give five simple stretches to work into your routine.

Related: Do you want to lose weight? Here are 16 really doable ways to do it quickly and safely.

How is stretching related to weight loss?

“The reason stretching is so important in the weight loss process is the simple fact that stretching will keep your joints and muscles feeling better. well,” He says Coby Hopkins, CPT, a personal trainer and the corporate director of training and exercise at stretchU, a full body assisted stretching company providing one on one assisted stretching. “If your body feels good, you’ll be much more motivated to exercise and keep up with your program,” she adds.

This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. It can be tempting to jump into a new exercise routine and push yourself every day. But doing this does not allow the body to recover properly. And when you’re not feeling well, you’re more likely to give up on your training goals altogether. “Although there are many factors that contribute to how efficiently you burn calories, having strong and happy muscles can play a big role in this,” medical exercise specialist. Melissa McGuire, ME, He says. “Your muscles are happy when they have good flexibility and a healthy range of motion in each joint.”

Related: 12 Trainers Share Their Favorite Weight Loss Workouts, And Yes, Walking Counts!

In addition to keeping the body feeling great, both trainers say that stretching can help with muscle growth. “When we lift weights, we tear the muscles. To really build muscle, we need to recover from that exercise, and stretching helps enhance that process,” says Hopkins.

He adds that constantly stretching will allow someone to move through their exercises with a greater range of motion. “If you can lift the same weight with a greater range of motion over time, that will lead to more muscle growth,” she says.

Related: How much weight can you really lose in a week? Experts explain and give their best tips to do it safely

Different types of stretching to work into your routine

McGuire and Hopkins explain that there are different types of stretching, which have slightly different benefits: isometric-active stretching, active-dynamic stretching, passive stretching, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, which are explained in more detail below:

  • Isometric-active stretching: “This type of stretch is like when you are holding the hardest part of a yoga pose,” says McGuire. “Some of the muscles are training to relax, but the opposing muscles are clenching hard.” She explains that the benefit of this is that the stretched muscles loosen up, which increases the range of motion in the joint. In addition, the holding muscles are also strengthened. “It’s a win for both strength and flexibility, which helps keep the body in balance,” says McGuire.

  • Dynamic-active stretching: McGuire explains that dynamic active stretching is movement oriented. For example, doing 10 repetitions of deep exercises squats. This type of stretching, he says, stretches the muscles and loosens them.

  • Passive stretch: Passive stretching, McGuire explains, is when you hold a stretch. “Your muscles will eventually relax, but you don’t have to work to contract anything,” she says. While McGuire says passive stretching is the least effective for weight loss, she says it’s still beneficial for helping muscles recover from active workouts.

  • Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF): “PNF is stretching where you go through a series of contractions and releases to increase your range of motion over time,” Hopkins says, adding that it can be great before or after a workout. This type of stretch “tricks” the nervous system into resisting pressure, which helps the muscles relax for a deeper stretch.

5 stretches to incorporate into your routine

McGuire recommends doing some light stretching every day. It can be especially beneficial to stretch before and after exercising. “Normally, we recommend dynamic stretching before exercise and [passive] stretching afterwards,” says Hopkins. “Dynamic stretching is great for lubricating the joints and getting the blood flowing. [Passive] stretching involves holding a stretch for 30 to 60 seconds while focusing on long, deep breaths, which is great for recovering from intense exercise.”

Here are five stretches to try, linked to the different types of stretching that trainers say can help with weight loss:

1. Plank pose

Holding a plank is an example of an isometric active stretch that, as McGuire says, increases strength and flexibility. To do a plank, place your hands directly under your shoulders while placing your toes on the ground, a few inches apart. Hold for 20 seconds, gradually building up to one minute if you can.

2. Walking lunges

Walking lunges are a dynamic active stretch. Start in a standing position. Step forward with your right leg, bending the knee to 90 degrees. Pause in the lunge position for a couple of seconds. Bring your left leg forward to meet your right leg. Now, step forward with your left leg and move into a lunge position. Repeat doing 10 lunges per leg.

3. High kicks

This is another example of a dynamic active stretch. To do high kicks, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift one leg out, as high as you can. Reach for your toes with the opposite hand, while keeping your neck and back straight. Bring the leg back down and repeat with the other leg. Do 10 high kicks per leg.

4. Runner’s Lunge

For a passive stretch, try a runner’s lunge by starting in a standing position and stepping back one foot behind you. Keep the other leg bent at 90 degrees. Place your hands on either side of the front foot. Hold for a few breaths and then switch, bringing the opposite leg forward.

5. Hamstring Stretch

A hamstring stretch is a common PNF stretch. Lie on the floor with one foot on the ground. Stretch your other leg up toward the ceiling as you wrap both arms around your thigh. Hold for 20 seconds, then repeat on the other leg.

Then, experts share 13 reasons why people struggle with weight loss.


  • Cobi Hopkins, CPT, personal trainer and corporate director of training and exercise at stretchU

  • Melissa McGuire, ME, medical practice specialist

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